How to Cook the Perfect Steak

Posted by Anne Alajar

Summer is here and so is patio season! It's always fun to have guests over to enjoy the weather, so why not impress them with a steak dinner! Whether you choose to use the grill or a skillet, here are some tips and tricks on how to cook the perfect steak.
 
CHOOSING THE RIGHT CUT
 
 
The right cut depends on how you want to prepare your steak. From Chuck steaks to NY Strip steak, any and most cuts cook great on the pan and skillet - although thick cuts like the Flat Iron Steak and Tenderloin/Filet Mignon are best starting in the pan, then finishing in the oven. 
If you're going to be using the grill, we recommend going for cuts like the Ranch Steak, the Flat Iron Steak, and the Porterhouse Steak. But if you were hoping to marinate your steak before cooking, look for Skirt and Flank steaks since they're pretty porous and take on flavours faster than about any other cut.
No matter what steak you choose, you want to keep a couple of things in mind when you're in the grocery store:
  • The steak should have fresh colour and appear moist but not wet - avoid dried out steaks with any grey around the edges and in the centre.
  • Look for clean and even cut steaks, not ragged.
  • For prepackaged steaks, avoid those with tears or with liquid in the bottom of the tray.
  • The meat should also feel firm and cold to the touch.
  • Be wary of the thickness of the steak - if the steak's too thick, it'll take longer to cook; if it's too thin, it might cook a lot faster than anticipated. You might risk under or overcooking your steak and jeopardizing flavour and juiciness. 
Don't be shy to ask your butcher for the best cut!
 
USING THE SKILLET VS. THE GRILL
 
 
Cooking steaks in the skillet is great because it builds flavour and texture. The skillet offers a nice hot surface for a crisp, golden-brown, and flavourful crust. Not to mention, the excess left from your steak can be used to make a complimentary gravy/sauce.
Although the grill  won't be able to achieve the same crust, there are a number of benefits that come from using a grill. For instance, using the grill to cook any food is generally lower in fat and calories compared to the skillet. This is because the steak wouldn't be soaking in it's own and added fats like it would in the skillet, on the grill, the fat seeps off the meat. In addition, the grill will cook your steak a lot  faster than on the skillet, so be aware of your cook time, especially if you're used to cooking  steaks on the pan. Our favourite benefit of booking on the grill is that nice, smokey flavour that only the grill can provide (especially if you use charcoal or grilling wood).
 
STEAK PREP
 
 
There are a couple things you should keep in mind before actually cooking your steak. To start,  you would want to take your steak out of the fridge and wait until it comes up to room temperature before cooking, depending on how thick the cut is, this would usually take 30 minutes to an hour. Cooking your steak when it's directly removed from the fridge will stop the heat from cooking the middle as efficiently. 
Once you've had your steak rest out of the fridge, rub your steak all over with a generous amount of olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. 
You would also want to make sure your skillet or grill is super hot before you begin, doing so will help caramelize the meat for a delicious crust.
 
THE PERFECT COOK
During cooking, always aim to have your steak as medium-rare to medium. If you aim for any more, you’ll be left with a pretty tough steak. Turning it every minute or so will make sure you get an even cook.
 
 
The thickness of the cut has a lot to do with how your steak will cook. Because the cook time varies, we have to go by temperature to determine when it's ready: 

 

Rare: 120°F + 3 minute rest off the heat

Medium-Rare: 130 to 135°F

Medium: 135 to 140°F

Medium-Well: 140 to 150°F

Well-Done: 150°F +

And if you don't have an instant-read thermometer, go by using the finger test to determine when your steak is ready. When using this method, remember to relax your hand. 

Rare: Press the tip of your index finger to the tip of your thumb. The fleshy area below the thumb is what meat cooked rare feels like.

Medium-Rare: Gently press the tip of your middle finger to the tip of your thumb. The area below you thumb is how medium-rare would feel.

Medium: The area below your thumb when you press the tip of your ring finger to your thumb is what meat cooked to medium feels like.

Well-Done: And when you gently press the tip of your pinky and your thumb together, the space below your thumb should feel quite firm. This is what a steak cooked well done feels like when you press on it.

To add more flavour as your steak cooks, try one or all of the following:

  • Grab half a garlic clove and rub it over your steak every time you turn it
  • Add butter as you cook/grill - not only does the butter add some flavour, but it also helps attain a juicy steak
  • Add herbs such as rosemary and thyme and braise your steak with it as it cooks - like the garlic, brush the herbs over your steak every time you turn it. 

Once your steak is cooked to your liking, remove it from the heat and let it rest on a chopping board with some butter (preferably compound butter for extra flavour) or extra virgin olive oil for an extra succulent steak. 
Let you steak rest for 1-2 minutes before cutting into it and serving with your side of choice - from mashed potatoes to fresh veggies. 

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