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When it comes to cooking the perfect steak, we’re all tempted to soak it in marinade or apply a thick, spicy rub. That’s all fine, but how do five-star restaurants do it? They keep it simple, cook it to perfection, and if necessary, top it with out-of-this-world flavors.
Step 1: Choose a steak
The best way to serve a delectable steak is to choose a quality steak from a butcher. The grade and cut affect the flavor, so consider this when purchasing.
Grade is determined by a third party or government association, such as the USDA. Prime grade is difficult to find because it's scarce and usually pre-ordered by restaurants , so you'll probably have to choose between choice and select. If you're preparing the steak as a standalone entree, go with choice grade.
Cut is determined by the location of the meat on the animal, which affects the tenderness and flavor of the steak. Your butcher can help you decide what's best of the available choices that day (ribeye is usually a superb option).
Step 2: Skip the stovetop
Ovens trap heat, which makes them the perfect place to cook steak. Place a cast-iron skillet in a cold oven and preheat it to 500 degrees F.
Step 3: Season your steak
A quality steak doesn't need anything but a bit of oil (canola or vegetable) to coat it, a generous sprinkling of kosher or sea salt, and a little freshly ground pepper.
Step 4: Cook the steak
Heat a burner on the stovetop to high. Pull the cast-iron skillet out of the oven temporarily, and sear the steak for 30 seconds on either side.
Put the steak in the oven, still in the cast-iron skillet. Cook time depends on the thickness of the steak and how you want it cooked, so check the temperature often so you can flip it when it's halfway to the desired temperature. The optimum culinary serving temperature for a steak is usually determined by the cut.
To determine when your steak is at the right temperature, touch it and compare the way it feels to the muscle on the pad of your hand just below your thumb when it's relaxed vs. when it's gently touching a specific finger, as follows:
- Relaxed hand = raw
- Index finger = rare (125 to 130 degrees F)
- Middle finger = medium rare (130 to 140 degrees F)
- Ring finger = medium (150 to 155 degrees F)
- Pinky finger = well done (160 to 212 degrees F)
Let the meat rest for five minutes before serving.
Piercing a steak (or any other meat) with a grill fork while it's cooking releases juices needed to keep your meat tender and juicy, so always use tongs instead. Using a meat thermometer also allows precious juices to seep out; however, the USDA recommends a minimum temperature of 145 degrees F for optimum food safety — and if you want to be certain, you should always use one.
Step 5: Top if desired and serve
If you want to dress up your steak, choose a great topper, such as a bleu cheese cream or fried onions and mushrooms with a marsala wine reduction — or just serve it as is with your favorite sides.
For more cooking tips, check out:
Super Moms guide to cleaning & cooking for the family