You may think that you need to eat out at a fancy steakhouse to enjoy a perfect steak. However, this is a common misconception. Of course, restaurant chefs know all the tricks and tips that lead to a perfect steak, and we look forward to sharing those with you here. It is time to start channeling your inner chef and get cooking.
Gather Your Materials
Every good chef knows that the first step in creating a meal is to have all equipment and ingredients within reach. The culinary term for this is mise en place. To create a perfect steak, you will need the following:
- A high-quality cut of steak
- A cast iron skillet
- A heavy-duty cooking mitt
- An instant-read thermometer (optional, but highly recommended)
Choosing Your Steak
For a truly indulgent experience, skip the grocery store and go straight to the butcher counter. Boneless rib eye is an ideal choice, as bone-in could hinder the caramelization process. Both “choice,” and “prime,” grade steaks are great choices, though prime will be quite a bit more expensive.
Preparing Your Steak
Seasoning is essential to cooking the perfect steak, but you do not want to go overboard. The goal of seasoning is to bring out the natural flavor of the steak; you are not trying to change the flavor of the steak. For this reason, you should season the meat very simply with only salt and pepper. Allow the steak to sit, seasoned, at room temperature, for at least 15 minutes to let the salt do its job.
You are going to use both your stove top and your oven for this cooking process. The stove top is where you will begin the process then you will finish it in the oven. To this end, start by preheating your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, take your cast iron skillet and put it on the stove top. Turn the burner on high. Before anything touches the skillet, it needs to be smoking hot. This may sound obvious, but it must be said that smoking hot means that the pan should literally be smoking. You may want to open your windows.
Once the skillet is smoking hot, it is time to start the cooking process. Make sure that your steak is no bigger than your skillet; full surface contact is crucial. Place the steak in the skillet, and it will begin to make sizzling noises. You will also notice a significant amount of smoke. This is a good sign. Do not touch the steak until it has been on the pan for two minutes. Once two minutes has elapsed, use your tongs to flip the steak to the other side. Allow it to cook on that side for another two minutes. While waiting for those two minutes to pass, get your oven mitt on and prepare for the next step.
Now that the steak was cooked at a high temperature for two minutes per side take a big slab of butter and put it on the steak. If you like your steak very rare, you are ready to eat it at this point. Most people, however, prefer rare or medium rare. If you are one of these people, carefully take your skillet with the steak and place it in your preheated oven. It won’t need to be in the oven for very long, so don’t wander off.
The Perfect Temperature
For a medium rare steak, the ideal finished temperature is 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Instead of taking it off the heat at this temperature, you want to remove it at 125 degrees. The steak continues to cook after being removed from the heat, so always remove it when it is five degrees below your ideal temperature.
Take Time to Rest
Before serving (or eating) the steak, it is important to let it rest for five minutes. This is an important step when cooking nearly any meat. Cover it with a piece of foil and get any side dishes ready. In five minutes, all of the juices will have soaked entirely through the meat, and the steak will be as tender as possible.