The million-dollar question
The perfect prep
Not that there is one.
There are so many techniques and chef-y secrets out there, it’s a mind-field.
From salting to resting, there is an opinion on each step on what makes the perfect steak.
But is there actually the perfect way to prep and cook a steak?
Well, it depends.
You have to put into play your own personal preferences, such as:
- What cut of steak are you cooking?
- Is it dry-aged?
- Do you like a nice crust on the outside or is an even cook throughout more important to you?
- Do you prefer a buttery flavour or a smokey flavour?
- How many people are you cooking for?
These can all impact your preparation and cooking technique.
But below are some quick tips to cooking a steak (Based on something like a thick ribeye steak)
Quick tips to cooking steak
- Thickish cut steak – no more than 2.5cm/1″ thick, if you want to cook entirely on the stove (*thicker cuts need to be finished in the oven – see Restaurant Method, below).
- Bring to room temp: At least an hour before cooking. This makes an amazing difference to cooking through evenly.
- Pat dry and season: I personally adhere to 3 Michelin star chef, Marcus Waring’s method, which is to season the meat on one side and place this side down onto the hot pan.
- Get a heavy-based pan smoking hot (with a tiny amount of oil) before putting the steak in – it should sizzle when you place it in.
- Don’t be tempted to add butter (yet).
- After a couple of minutes of cooking, season the top of the meat and flip it over to cook for six to eight minutes on the other side (depending on thickness).
- Add flavour: Now, you can add butter, along with a garlic clove, fresh rosemary or thyme sprigs.
- Baste – baste the steak with the butter and herbs – it will come out deliciously buttery with a golden caramelization and char.
- Rest your steak for 10 minutes so it sucks its own juices back in and the fibres relax.
- If you’re using a meat thermometer, take the steak off the stove before your it reaches your preferred cook i.e. rare, medium-rare, well or the correct internal temperature (see below) as it will continue to cook as it rests.
- For the perfect home-cooked steak you’ll need a quality, heavy-based pan – cast iron is best. (A light, flimsy pan, just won’t hold the heat).
- Buy your meat from a butcher instead of a grocery store.
- Don’t be afraid of the fat; fat equals flavour
Internal temperature for your desired steak
- 55°C (131°F) for rare
- 60°C (140°F) for medium-rare
- 65°C (149°F) for medium
- 75°C (167°F) for well done
The restaurant method
It’s not anything tricky.
And is great for thicker, larger pieces of meat.
- Sear the outside of the steak in a pan to get a nice colouring i..e the maillard reaction
- Finish off in the oven at 120 C / 220 F for approx. 8 to 10 minutes or until it’s reached the desired internal temp (see above)
- Rest and serve by cutting (against the grain) into thick slices.