The perfect steak is something you might all have dreamed of on a hungry night. Remembering this night out at that steak house in Chicago, where they brought you a perfect piece of grilled meat on a sizzling plate made out of cast iron. With Macaroni and Cheese, and some of the best creamed spinach that you ever had.
We all have those dreams, because we all have eaten in good steak houses. And if you are like me, you always think “how the hell do they cook them so perfectly”?
I’ve spent years trying, learning and perfecting the art of doing that perfect steak. It cost me a lot of time and money, and I had some serious fun with it. Today, I’m sharing all of this knowledge with you. And you will see that very easily you, too, can cook that perfect steak.
Let’s start out with the basics. Steak aficionados always debate about two things: One is the question grain-fed or grass-fed beef. The other is the cooking method: Wood-fire grill, gas grill, pan-seared or something else?
Well, when it comes to meat choice the question is easily answered. Beef changes its texture and flavor depending on the type of feed it eats while fattening. Generally spoken, grain-fed gives you more flavor but a lot of trans fat. Grass-fed gives you less fat but also less taste and tenderness. So apart from the health question, I will always go for grain-fed. It’s not like I eat steak every day.
For cooking steak, the debate among professionals is heated. I’ve tried all of the methods, and I talked to star chefs about their experience. Unanimously, we came to the same conclusion: The best results for cooking perfect steak is to sear the steak in a very hot cast-iron grilling pan (such as the Lodge L8SGP3), and then cook it in the oven to the point of doneness you like. This is good news, because it’s one of the simplest methods, and it is probably the cheapest. Of course, some people like the flair of doing a big BBQ out on the patio, but when it comes to steak flavor, the choice is clear.
So, are we all set to get started? Okay, here we go.
1. First step of preparation: We go meat shopping. Look for a nice cut of well-aged beef. I prefer wet-aged for at least 28 days. As for the cut, you may go for a super-tender tenderloin, which is the most expensive one. I like the more fatty and flavorful Ribeye or NY strip cut, which is essentially from the same muscle string in the back. Whatever you do, go for center-cut pieces, they are more tender.
2. If you have bought an entire piece, which I recommend, then we need to cut the steak. Steaks should be at least 4-5 cm thick, which makes for about a 10-12 oz Tenderloin or a 14-16 oz Ribeye or Strip. Thicker meat means more juices and better crust.
3. If you had the meat in the fridge, you should take it out and let warm to room temperature. Everything else will spoil the cooking process and make for a raw, undercooked center and a burnt surface. Good cooking takes time!
4. Now, about 10 minutes, but no more, before searing rub the steaks with plenty of sea salt and a bit of ground pepper. It is important to salt the steak before grilling because the salt forms a bond with the protein, giving the steak more flavor.
5. Pre-heat the oven to about 350F and prepare some aluminum foil.
1. Heat up a heavy duty cast-iron grilling pan. And I mean really hot. Give it 20 minutes at full heat and do not add any oil! The pan is hot enough when it starts smoking by itself like crazy and you can’t hold your bare hand a few inches above without getting burnt.
2. Place the steak right in the center of the pan. I, personally, like to add some steak weights on top. It is not a must, but makes for a better brown crust. In any case, be prepared for a hell lot of smoke!
3. After about a minute and a half, turn the steak with tongs. Never stick anything into the steak as it will cause the juices to flow out and make the steak dry as a piece of wood.
4. When the other side is nicely brown, place the steak on aluminum foil and place inside the pre-heated oven at 350 F. Cook until the point of desired done-ness. This is a process which needs a lot of experience. Remember that a medium steak should be still nice and soft, but not wobbly. Once it feels hard, it is exactly that: dry and well done.
5. Remove the steaks and let them sit at room temperature for another 3-4 minutes. This is important for the juices to re-distribute inside the steak. Cut a clove of garlic in half and rub the steak with the freshly cut side. Add a sprinkle of lemon juice on top.
6. Serve the perfect steak on a warmed plate and enjoy!
The key points to the perfect restaurant-style steak are good meat quality, high heat and enough time in the oven. If you do all that right, you’ll have exactly what you’ve been waiting for: The best steak you ever cooked.