SIX EASY STEPS TO MAKING THE BEST STEAK
If you’re not a vegetarian, then you’re a fan of steaks, right? Well, if you’re not then there’s a lot you’re missing. I’m bold to say anyone who doesn’t love steaks have never really had a well-prepared steak. It’s great taste, tenderness and juiciness is unparalleled you can’t help but love.
Whether you’re looking to treat yourself to your first great steak, or trying to impress friends and family with your culinary skills, this piece can help you achieve that and even more. I’ve outlined the entire process from selecting the best steak to crunching those tasty chunks of beef.
One warning though, if you impress friends with this recipe, be ready to make more of it as they will sure crave for more every now and then. So, let’s dive right in.
Step 1: Select Your Steak
Your choice of steak largely depends on your personal preference and budget. Different cuts of steak offers varying levels of tenderness, flavor and are sold for different prices. Just in case you’re a newbie to the steak industry, here’s what you should expect from several types of steaks.
- Rib-eye: There are two cuts you need to note: rib on the bone, also known as côte de boeuf. Unlike most other steaks, this cut comes with the bone. Bones have a knack for adding an extra flavor and letting the meat cook more evenly. The other cut is the boneless kind. It’s one of the most loved variants of steak.
- Fillet: Generously marbled beef. It’s the most tender and most expensive as it is characterized as Prime grade steak. So, you may want to go all out for this one if you live them really tender.
- Sirloin: Much like Fillet, it is considered Prime grade. It has a slight edge though, it boasts of even more flavor and usually turns out tastier if well prepared.
- T-bone: Contains a T-shaped bone, hence the name. This makes it cook more evenly. Ideal for cooking in larger amounts as it is more resistant to getting overcooked. It is best finished in the oven.
- Baveatte: Cheap cut of steak that’s just great for barbecuing. Best served medium-cooked. It’s quite lean and not so tender.
- Strip Steak: Also known as New York Strip, it’s a classic choice. It’s renowned for it’s marbling, flavor and tenderness. It’s a great choice for summer grilling. In terms of sheer tenderness, it’s only less tender than Fillet. However, with a large arsenal of natural flavors, strip Steak stands out as one of the most scrumptious to eat.
In case you’re seeking professional advise on which to pick, my personal top 3 are Sirloin, rib eye and the mouthwatering New York strip. You can’t go wrong with these.
You may need to understand the difference between these three options to aid your decision making.
Your favorite supermarket probably offers three grades of streaks which you can choose from. Many people don’t know the differences and may just pick anyone at random or based on their budget.
What are the Differences?
Select: Select beef steak is the lowest grade and, of course, the most inexpensive. The meat is leaner and not quite tender. Tenderness is an attribute of a great steak that’s why I discourage using Select beef if you wish to have a great experience. However, we all have our preferences.
Choice: They are tender and nice. It’s largely regarded as the ideal steak based on the fact that it’s not quite as expensive as Prime, yet tender. The difference is that it doesn’t have as much marbling as Prime.
Prime: This comes from young cattle. Prime has an amazing amount of marbling (this means the steaks are very tender). They’re unarguably the best and most expensive grade of beef.
Professional chef advise is that you use anywhere between Choice and Prime to prepare your steaks. It may cost a few extra bucks but it’s sure worth the investment. Personal preference also play a role here, if you love it less tender and a tad tough, select grade may do it just fine.
Step 2: Prepare Your Meat
Ideally, after you have procured your desired grade of beef, it’s been stored in the refrigerator to maintain quality. Now when you’re ready to get things done, you need to take it out of the fridge for a while. This allows it absorb surrounding heat and attain room temperature. It’s a blunder to jerk it from negative temperatures to superhot pans or grills.
As part of your meat preparation, you may need to trim off excess fat. While fats are great and offer extra flavor, excess fat may ruin the party. So the trick is to trick some, not all fats on your meat.
Step 3: Marinate and Season your Steak
It’s quite unbelievable that a friend once told me she thought steaks were dry, tough and flavorless and that’s why she never ate them while growing up. It was in her young adult years that she realized the outcome of the steak was almost always a result of the marinade. Steaks can be either be dry and flavorless or super-delicious, juicy and flavorful. It’s all in the marinade. That’s why the rest of the journey will be downhill, if you get this step wrong
If you’ve ever made any research on steak marinades, you must have come across a plethora of marinade recipes. This isn’t just one other recipe you should file or read for fun. It’s a tried and true, fail-proof recipe. You’ll surely be glad you came across it. Another great thing about this recipe is that people of all ages will love it. Granny’s, teenagers, kids and adults will crave it once they have a bite. Without engaging in aggrandizement, let’s get straight to business.
Here are what you need to get this done.
- Balsamic Vinegar: Dark balsamic vinegar precisely. The white balsamic vinegar isn’t quite as strong as the black and may not offer that great flavor. On this ingredient, I recommend no substitutes.
- Soy Sauce: A common ingredient. However, in the sad event that you abruptly run out of soy sauce, or just don’t like it’s taste or smell, there are options. However substitutes are never exact and may result in a change in flavor. If you add it to taste, though, you will still have a great marinade. So you may consider tamari, coconut amino, or Maggi seasoning.
- Worcestershire Sauce: Definitely one of the most pivotal ingredients in this recipe. It’s a great ingredient for steak marinades. Some people skip using soy sauce and all listed substitutes and just make do with Worcestershire sauce.
- Dijon Mustard: Brings extra flavor to the mix. Regular mustard can’t effectively suffice if you want to get it spot on.
- Olive Oil: Regular refined olive oil is also a key constituent. Avoid using extra virgin olive oil as it has a low smoke point.
- Dried Rosemary: Fresh rosemary may work but should be applied in lesser quantity. Dried rosemary is recommended.
- Garlic: Use fresh garlic for optimum results. You’re setting up for a burst of big and bold flavors.
- Honey: This helps time down the acidity of the vinegar and retains the brown color of the steaks to make it more aesthetically pleasing. Just a light amount is all that’s required.
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper: Fresh ground pepper is a lot better. Hot and spicy. Without this piece, the puzzle remains incomplete.
- Steaks: The most essential of them all. I mean, all these ingredients are for the steaks. So without it, there’s no party.
Now you’ve actually got your ingredients all set. The next step is to whisk all the marinade ingredients in a mixing bowl. Balsamic vinegar, garlic, pepper, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, garlic, honey, Dijon mustard and olive oil until they are properly blended.
After which you pour the mixture of the steaks to marinate. That is, you place steak in a gallon-sized re-sealable bag. Then pour marinade over steaks, seal bag while removing excess air.
How Long Should Steaks Marinate?
This is a popular question among steak lovers. Amazingly, you don’t have to spend days preparing to make the perfect steak. Within as little as 30 minutes, your steak must have absorbed enough of the marinade solution to be as delicious as you want it. Depending on the amount of time you have at hand though, you may rest the marinade in the refrigerator for even longer. However, I recommend a maximum of 8 hours because the acidity of the marinade starts to break down the constituent proteins after 8 hours. As a result, the outer layer of the steak which the marinade penetrates becomes undesirably squishy.
Step 4: Cooking the Steak
After your steak cuts have been satisfactorily marinated, the next step is to get cooking.
If you’re using an oven, the first step is to preheat the oven to about 375 degrees. You can observe if the grill is evenly heated by carefully placing your hand six feet above it. Then preheat an oven-safe skillet over high heat till it gets very hot. Then use tongs to transfer steaks from the marinade into the pan and then sear for about 3 minutes per side. If the steak has a chunk of fat, turn the steak onto that side and render the fat by searing for about 3 minutes as well.
If you’re stove-cooking your steaks (ideal for tender cuts like New Your strips, Sirloin and Fillet), you may need to tap it dry with a towel. Heat the pan till it’s very hot. The pan must be heavy and should ideally be made of stainless steel or cast iron. Then add oil to the hot pan. When it’s hot enough, the oil begins to shimmer and move more fluidly around the pan. Please note that when cooking cuts like T-bone, you maybe need to finish it off in an oven for best results.
Using tongs, carefully place the steak in pan releasing it away from you so the oil doesn’t splatter on your delicate skin. Then leave it to cook for a while. The initial temptation is that you tube it around every other minutes, don’t do it. Let it cook for a few minutes to develop a brown crust before you turn. And, oh, don’t worry about sticking. Steaks will release easily once they’ve formed a brown crust.
After about 3 minutes when the crust is formed, flip the steaks on the other side and allow to cook for another 3 minutes. You may add one tablespoon of butter and some fresh thyme. This tends to make it more delicious. You may flip a few more times till it’s done.
How Do I Know My Steak is Done?
Undercooked or overcooked steaks don’t taste so great. Undercooked steaks may also be harmful so it is highly important to know when your steak is properly cooked.
Some people use steak color as an indicator. “It’s done once it’s reddish-brown.” While this may be true for some steaks, it may be largely erroneous and misleading. This is because some steaks are naturally brighter than others, while others have a darker tint.
Another false indicator may be time of cooking. Some advisers may say: “Cook each side for 4 minutes and it’s done.” Again, this can be misleading. Much because some steaks are cut thicker than others. Some are also tougher or less tender. Another reason why this advise bring a bad out one is that boneless steaks require a shorter cooking time than their bony counterparts. The bone serves as an insulator and doesn’t allow the heat penetrate as quickly as it does in boneless steaks.
Having debunked these false advises, the best way to know your steak is ready is by ascertaining the temperature. Whether you’re cooking on an electric oven, a wood-fired grill or a stove, you can check the temperature.
USDA recommends a safe temperature of 145° to kill off bacteria that may pose a threat to health. However, personal preference plays a role here. While some folks love their steaks deeply cooked, some prefer shallow heating.
Using an Instant read thermometer is the best way to tell when it’s done to your likeness. Insert the thermometer through the side of the steak horizontally. After which you insert the thermometer at the thickest portion of the center. If there are cold spots that are yet to attain a uniform temperature, you may need to realign your steak so that that portion gets enough heat.
Here’s a list indicating the various ranges of steak doneness:
- Rare: 125 – 130 (not recommended by USDA).
- Medium rare: 130 – 135 degrees
- Medium: 135 – 145 degrees
- Medium well: 145 – 150 degrees
- Well: 150 – 160 degrees
Based on your preferences, this list can help you know when to take your steak off the heat. Some cuts, like Hanger steak, get tough at higher temperatures. So unless you love it tough, you need to not cook it past 130°. Also note that you steak keeps cooking about five minutes after taking off the heat.
Step 5: Let the Steak Rest off Heat
After you must have taken your steak off the heat, you need to give it some time to cool off. Sure enough it looks great and inviting but don’t give into the temptation of slicing it just yet.
Why? Well the steak needs about 5-10 minutes to rest, reabsorb its juices, and evenly distribute them. It’s a standard requirement for any protein cooked hard and fast. If you cut into it too soon, the juices will end up on the plate instead of in the steak. Now that’s not what you want as by then you’d have lost some succulent and sweet-tasting juice.
Step 6: Slice and Serve
Yaaas!!! Isn’t this what you’ve been waiting for? To finally slice through the mouthwatering steaks and have a taste of all your hard work? By now the juice must have seeped into the steaks, so you can slice it to desirable sizes and enjoy with friends and family.
Whether it’s dinner on a summer evening or on a winter evening where you had to wear 5 layers of clothing to cook this outside the house, you can see it’s worthwhile.
You can serve your steaks with a wide range of garnishments depending on your preferences. If you’re looking for a luxurious experience you can serve with a marshes potato counterpart and Garlic Sautéed Spinach. Creamy mashed cauliflower is another great option is you’re keen on low carbs.
Other options are crispy smashed potatoes, potato dauphinoise, sweet potato stacks brown sugar glazed carrots and roasted broccoli. Grilled corn on the cob, coleslaw, macaroni salad and roasted vegetables are some other cool options you’ve got.
So there you have it guys, everything you need to know about making the very best of steaks. Try it out and enjoy with friends and family.