Most people love a juicy, tender and perfectly cooked steak. But if you've ever tried to cook one until it’s just so, you know it's not as easy as it looks.
Cooking the perfect steak depends on many things—the quality of your chosen meat, the cooking method you choose and the amount of seasoning you use, just to name a few—and you've got to do it all right, to get it right (if you know what we mean). So, whether you fancy a rib eye, a hanger steak or—the king of all steaks—the T-bone, we're going to share a few of our secrets with you today. Are you ready to take some notes?
→ Not sure what steak is best? Check out our handy Grilling Steaks 101 Guide.
A few common mistakes people make:
Before we move on to the things you should be doing to make that perfect steak, we need to cover a few things you should not be doing. There are a few common mistakes that people make when trying to cook steak, and simply fixing these can make a huge difference.
1. Purchasing beef from just about anywhere – If you are on a quest to cook a damn good steak, the first thing you need to do is purchase damn good beef. So basically…do not purchase your beef from your local budget grocery store. Instead, we recommend that you head over to your local butcher shop and buy a good cut of meat. Sure, it may cost a little more, but we can guarantee that if the quality of the meat is superior, so too will be the end product.
2. Cooking cold meat – One of the most important rules to follow when cooking steak is to bring the meat to room temperature before cooking it. You need to plan in advance and take your meat out of the fridge at least half an hour before you actually cook it (for thicker cuts an hour will do). Meat that starts at room temperature will result in more evenly cooked steak.
3. Under seasoning – Stop skimping on seasoning. When it comes to seasoning a steak, you need to be bold. You need to sprinkle enough sea salt and pepper on the exterior of the steak so that you can actually see a layer of it. A tiny pinch will not do. That layer of seasoning will not only flavour your steak from the outside in, but will aid in the formation of that gorgeous crust. And simple is better. Coarse kosher salt or flaked sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper is ideal.
4. Over fussing – Once in the pan, your steak does not need to be constantly fussed over, so for goodness sake put down the tongs! To get that gorgeous crust that we previously mentioned, your steak needs time to sear—untouched. So, add a tablespoon of oil with a high smoke point to the pan (we like vegetable or grapeseed oil,) get your pan good and hot and then put your steak in and just let it sit for 2 to 4 minutes (depending on the thickness). Turn it over and repeat. If your steak is very thick, you can pop it into a 400 F oven to finish it. No constant fussing necessary.
5. Not letting your steak rest – You've done everything right to prepare and cook the perfect steak and then you plate it immediately and get busy eating. Right? Wrong. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make, and it will ruin all of the careful preparation and cooking you have done. Your steak needs time to rest, untouched, to let the juices redistribute and let the meat settle. So pop it onto a cutting board (you don't want to leave it in the hot pan, where it will continue cooking,) and give it 10 minutes. Then you can get busy eating.
6 steps to a perfectly cooked steak:
Now that we've covered of all the things you should not be doing, let's move on to our 6 simple steps to create the perfect steak.
1. Buy your beef from the best possible source – Whether you're looking for grass-fed, organic or regular, purchase your beef from a reputable butcher and buy the best possible cut of meat you can afford. Check out our 5 favourite T.O. butchers here.
2. Take the chill off – About 1/2 an hour to 1 hour before cooking, bring your steak out of the fridge to take the chill off.
3. Pat your meat dry – Just before you are ready to season your meat, pat it very dry using clean paper towels. This step will ensure your steak does not stick to the pan, start to steam (yuck!) and it will ensure you get that glorious sear and gorgeous crust.
4. Season, season, season – Season your steak generously with your choice of coarse kosher salt or flaked sea salt (we like Maldon) and freshly cracked black pepper.
5. Use high heat and don't fuss – Fact is, you need a HOT pan to properly sear meat. The hotter the pan, the more the caramelization, colour and crust you will achieve. And, as we eluded to above, stop fussing as your steak cooks. Let it cook—untouched— on the first side, and the repeat on the second.
6. Rest, rest, rest – Once your steak is cooked to your liking, transfer it to a clean cutting board and let it hang out for at least 10 minutes before carving.