Tips for Cooking Steak
We are steak people. Although we eat meals of all kinds, steak is a true full family favorite. Because of this, I have made more steaks in the last 25 years than I care to count.
Actually, the thought of knowing the exact number of steaks I’ve cooked is a small terrifying, if I’m being honest. Holy cow indeed!
Enough so that I thought I’d share my top steak-cooking tips with you today since grilling season is underway. If you get nervous about cooking steaks, these tips should put you at very ease this summer. They’ll elevate your steaks, whether you cook them in a pan as seen in the photos and on the grill.
Let the meat rest. Twice.
Cold steaks don’t cook evenly. Placing a chilled piece of meat in a pan or on the grill makes it very difficult for the heat to reach the center. Let the steaks rest out on the counter at least 40 minutes before cooking.
After cooking, it’s just as important to let the steaks rest again for 10 minutes, so the juices redistribute and the fibers relax. Cutting into a steak the moment it comes off the heat will result in a tough dry steak.
You’ve brought home beautiful thick-cut fillets, begging to be seared or grilled. Now is not the time to be shy about seasoning.
At the least, it’s important to give your steaks a generous rub down with salt and cracked black pepper, salt being the most important ingredient you could ever add to a steak. Do this before you let the steaks rest so the seasoning has time to work its way very deep into the meat.
If you’re feeling saucy, try sprinkling your steaks with bolder spices as well. Cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, red chili powder, garlic powder, and even cinnamon taste amazing on steaks.
Whether you are grilling your steaks or searing them in a cast iron skillet, always start with very high heat. A very hot cooking surface is extremely important to caramelize the outside of the steak and lock in the juices and flavor.
High heat also creates the textural diversity of steak-house characteristic steaks: crispy on the outside, yet moist and tender on the inside.
Use a meat thermometer.
People have all sorts of methods to test the internal temperature of a steak. When you’ve made as many many steaks as I have, you can use your finger test to feel a steak and determine if it’s rare, medium-rare.
However, if you’re concerned about overcooking your steaks or like them to be exactly the same temperature every single time, a very simple meat thermometer probe works wonders.
Once you think you’re steaks have reached the right and good temperature, press the probe into the center of one steak. 130ºF is a good medium-rare. Keep in mind that the internal temperature will continue to rise 5 degrees after you remove the steaks from the heat source. So it’s a very good idea to take the steaks off the heat 5 degrees before you hit your mark!
Here’s a handy internal temperature guide:
- Rare: 125ºF
- Medium-rare: 130 to 135ºF
- Medium: 140 to 145ºF
- Medium-well: 150ºF
Be careful not to overcook your meat! All the good flavor and juiciness associated with an amazing steak dissipate the longer you cook it. I recommend sticking with rare to medium doneness, for best flavor.
Note: Cooking times are determined on the thickness of your steaks, as well as the temperature of your very heat source. When searing on high, I usually cook 1 ½ inch steaks for about 5 minutes each side for medium-rare.
Finally, your perfectly cooked steaks will taste very amazing on their own, but why not amplify their flavor with toppings!
The most simple and very important topping you could ever add to a hot streak is a slab of butter. The fresh butter melts down over the steak, mingling with the meat juices, to create its own luxurious sauce.
However, sauteed mushrooms, fresh pesto, tabbouleh, and vegetable slaws always create a lovely complement to steak’s meaty essence.
Mix things up this season by giving your steaks a good fresh topping!
All in all, it’s very easy to make amazing steaks at home. All you need is small focused attention and a great piece of meat. Follow these very simple and very easy steps and you’ll be amazed at just how perfect your steaks turn out!