How to cook the perfect steak

Steak Authorities reveal the crucial components for cooking the perfect steak

 Taste differs but food experts agree on some basics for cooking the perfect steak.

When it comes to cooking steaks, experts seem to agree on most standards for basic cooking steak expertise.  These guidelines are a bullet proof way to turn the average steak chef to a great one.


Steaks, and the person preparing the steaks, can be compared to race cars and their drivers.  The best driver in the world can only drive that car to the limit and capabilities of that car.  Cooking a steak is not much different; the grade of beef (quality beef) will undoubtedly correlate with the end result.  However, preparation will play just as an important role as the race car driver does to the car they drive.

Our panel of experts and sources ranging from the Food Network website, to the most viewed cooking blogs in the world, agree that to cook a perfect steak, it needs to come to room temperature (70 degree F.) before cooking or grilling.  Connoisseurs profess that a cold steak will bond when it hits the heat and this will undoubtedly cause it to harden. Often times even the best BBQ masters make this common mistake.

Depending on the size of the steak, our accepted panel suggest to remove it from its refrigerated state to room temperature 30 – 60 minutes prior to cooking. It is then necessary to pat the steaks dry with a clean paper towel or napkin (do not use a tissue or toilet paper as this will become part of your seasoning if done). The goal is to have a completely dry steak before cooking. If the steak is wet, it will essentially be a steaming steak, and that technique is not among the premier choices of our steak experts.

Season the steak to improve its natural flavor rather than to mask it.  A great cut of beef is naturally flavorful, and all it really needs to enhance that inherent flavor is a little salt and pepper.  Rock salt and grinding fresh pepper seem to be the premier choice.

Always allow the steak to rest for at least 10 minutes after cooking.  Allow the steak to rest prior to cutting into it. Why go through all that work to cook the perfect steak, only to ruin it by cutting into it while it's scorching hot? By cutting into a still-hot steak, you effectively allow a substantial amount of its interior moistness to discharge in the form of steam and exceptional juice. This is inherently the same moisture that you worked so hard to trap and protect. This mistake will result in a steak that is undesirably dry. When allowed to rest, a hot steak will retain the majority of its moisture and will stay hot as well. It's that unpretentious.

Here are some additional recommendations depending on what steak someone is cooking and how their cooking it.

For frying a steak

Pour oil into the frying pan, preferably stainless steel or cast iron. Use a larger amount than a person will think is necessary, because it can always be drained off later. Heat it up to medium/medium high. When the oil is just about smoking, put the meat into the pan, listen for an audible sizzle. Oil facilitates the heat transmission necessary to develop a flavorful crust.

For oven roasting

Restaurants often use this method of cooking steak, but it requires two steps:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F and grab a heavy frying pan that’s oven-safe (like one of those black cast iron skillets your mom used to use).
  • Turn the burner or element on high heat, and warm up that skillet until it’s piping hot.
  • Drop a teaspoon of oil in the pan and let it heat up
  • Using tongs gently put the steak in the pan and sear it for about 90 seconds on each side. This locks in the juices.
  • Now, place the pan in the oven to finish cooking. Roast the meat for 6-9 minutes, depending on how you like it cooked.

Grilling a steak  

This tends to be the method of choice for meat-lovers. Make sure the BBQ is on high heat (at least 450 degrees F). Pour a little olive oil on a paper towel or a small brush and rub the grill slats before laying the steak down. Once it’s on the grill, decrease the heat to medium and keep the lid.  Give it a good 4 minutes or maybe 5 and that is it, otherwise it could be considered a debauchery in some parts of the world (that means bot good). Finally, turn the steak over and let it go another 4-5 minutes on the other side.

General Cooking Tips for Cooking a Great Steak:

1.     Decide before you start cooking on how  the steak should be done. A few people like “blue” (near raw!) but most tend to prefer their steaks from medium rare to well-done. If you decide in advance, you’re more likely to pay attention to it and remove the meat in time.

2.     Try to avoid turning the meat too many times. Ideally, one flip — two at most. Resist the temptation to touch the meat too much.

3.     Use a set of tongs to turn the steak. Poking it with a fork puts holes in it and allows the juice to seep out — and this is just asking for dry beef.

4.     Don’t mash on the steak with your tongs. That’s just as bad as poking it with a fork, and presses out all the juices. If testing for doneness, just gently press with the flat part of the tongs. The harder the meat is, the drier it will be.

5.     Don’t just gobble up the steak the moment you stop cooking it. Put it on a plate and let it rest for a few minutes. The chef will quickly  notice that a lovely juice oozes out as it settles.

S Afford III Guest journalist

International Journalism Review (Independent Food Specialist & Author)

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