originally from thepioneerwoman.com
We are steak people. Although we eat meals of all kinds, steak is a true family favorite. Because of this, I have made more steaks in the last twenty years than I care to count.
Actually, the thought of knowing the exact number of steaks I’ve cooked is a little terrifying, if I’m being totally honest. Holy cow indeed!
Needless to say, I know my way around a slab of red meat. Enough so that I thought I’d share my top 5 steak-cooking tips with you today, since grilling season in underway.
If you get nervous about cooking steaks, these tips should put you at ease this summer. They’ll elevate your steaks, whether you cook them in a pan as seen in the photos, or on the grill.
1. 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 difficult for the heat to reach the center. Let the steaks rest out on the counter at least 30 minutes before cooking.
After cooking, it’s just as important to let the steaks rest again for 5–10 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.
2. Season well.
You’ve brought home gorgeous thick-cut fillets, begging to be seared or grilled. Now is not the time to be shy about seasoning.
At the very 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 deep into the meat.
If you’re feeling saucy, try sprinkling your steaks with bolder spices as well. Cumin, smoked paprika, sumac, cayenne pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, and even cinnamon taste amazing on steaks.
3. Sear hot.
Whether you are grilling your steaks or searing them in a cast iron skillet, always start with high heat. A 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 quality steaks: crispy on the outside, yet moist and tender on the inside.
4. Use a meat thermometer.
People have all sorts of methods to test the internal temperature or “doneness” of a steak. When you’ve made as many steaks as I have, you can use the finger test to feel a steak and determine if it’s rare, medium-rare, or medium.
However, if you’re concerned about overcooking your steaks or just like them to be exactly the same temperature every single time, a simple meat thermometer probe works wonders.
Once you think you’re steaks have reached the right temperature, press the probe into the center of one steak. 130ºF is a perfect medium-rare. Keep in mind that the internal temperature will continue to rise 3-5 degrees after you remove the steaks from the heat source. So it’s a good idea to take the steaks off the heat 3-5 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 flavor and juiciness associated with an amazing steak dissipate the longer you cook it. I always 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 heat source. When searing on high, I usually cook 1 ½ inch steaks for about 3 minutes each side for medium-rare.
5. Add toppings.
Finally, your perfectly cooked steaks will taste amazing on their own, but why not amplify their flavor with toppings!
The most simple (and important) topping you could ever add to a hot steak is a slab of butter. The butter melts down over the steak, mingling with the meat juices, to create its own luxurious sauce.
However, sautéed mushrooms, gremolata, 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 fresh topping!
All in all, it’s easy to make amazing steaks at home. All you need is a little focused attention and a great piece of meat. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be amazed at just how perfect your steaks turn out!