Anybody have any tips on cooking a good steak? I think I cook a mighty fine steak, I love rib eye medium rare, but was wondering if anyone has some tips, tricks, or special methods especially for tough cuts.
1 hour before cooking cover the steak in salt, top and bottom, using so much that you can't see through the white salt in many places. This will break down the proteins for tenderness and add flavor; no other seasoning is required.
10 minutes before cooking, preheat the oven to 450 and place a cast iron skillet in the oven.
Right before cooking, wash all of the salt off and pat the steak dry with paper towels. The steak should feel dry and look and feel rather unappetizing, like dried fruit. Don't worry about juiciness because water is not what makes a steak juicy; its the blood and fat.
Put the stove to med-high and place the pre-heated cast iron skillet on it. Place the steak down without adding anything: no butter, ghee, or fat of any kind, the steak will produce its own. Cook until the steak is no longer stuck to the pan. (If your kitchen fills with smoke during this stage, you are on the right track.)
Once the steak slides when you nudge it with a fork, flip it and and put it in the oven, with a meat thermometer stuck in it.
Take it out when it gets to 118. Immediately wrap it in tin foil and let it sit for 10 minutes. The temperature will climb to about 127 during this time.
This works. I do it with cast iron. I heat the cast iron skillet up in the oven at like 450 while the steak is "curing" with salt. Then I bring out the cast iron skillet, turn the stove top on high and sear both sides, like a minute or two each side. Then I stick it back in the oven for 3-6 minutes depending on thickness. I get it a nice medium rare.
Also, let the steak sit on a plate (covered) once you take it out of the oven to let the juices set.
I salt it well, wait a few minutes for the salt to be absorbed, and then heat a skillet to medium-high heat and melt ghee in it. Also, dry it on both sides with a paper towel or clean cloth. Then I sear both sides in a skillet to get that brown crispy beefy goodness, then lower the heat to cook it to medium rare. One good trick is to get thick steak and when you let it "rest" to put it on the cut side, or the narrow side. Steak finishes cooking while it is resting, and resting lets the juices set. Resting it on its narrow side (sticking up in the air) reduces the surface area that is touching the cold ceramic plate, making it cool more slowly, and also you loose fewer juices during the process. Then I sautee whatever else I'm eating with it (spinach, eggs, veggies, whatev) in the leftover ghee and beef juices in the pan. Yum!
Everyone seems to have nicely covered some of the basics. We just wanted to offer up this graphic we made for our blog that shows how to put those sexy grill marks on the perfect cut of meat.
I actually like my steaks raw or very rare. (healthy grass fed of course) If i do cook it, i just throw on some pepper and a little bit of salt. i sear both sides on high heat for about a minute or two. If I'm feeling super fancy, I use a grill and wood fire (plain oak is best). if you ever watch PBS keep an eye out for Primal Grill http://www.primalgrill.org/index.asp the recipes are about keeping it simple and using wood fires for an authentic taste. If you are working with tough cuts, crock pot is the best way to go.
Cooks Illustrated has a different take on how to cook a thick steak on the stovetop. I've done this and it definitely makes for a better steak.
Put your oven on the lowest setting it will go. Put the steak in a pan you can use both in the oven and on the stovetop. Heat the steak slowly until it is about 95 - 100 degrees. THEN take the pan out, crank up your hottest burner, and sear it until it's at the temp you like (I never go more than 120 degrees).
If you sear a thick steak you will see a gray ring between the outer, seared layer and the inner, barely cooked layer. That gray band (which has a scientific name that I, of course, cannot recall) is formed when beef isn't heated quickly enough - as happens with a thick steak. That gray band is tough, unappealing and tasteless. Heating the steak to around 95 or 100 degrees will help you avoid or minimize that.
Also, salt the steak on both sides and let it sit on your counter for one hour before cooking. The salt draws out moisture, which mixes with the salt, and then the steak re-absorbs the water and takes the salt flavor with it. If you can't let it stand for an hour, just salt it before cooking.
If you have the money to invest in a sous-vide machine, you can make an excellent steak from tougher cuts of beef. It takes little effort because you can never overcook it and risk ruining the meat:
My indoor steak cooking method for the tenderer cuts (ribeye, NY strip, sirloin, porterhouse, etc):
For slightly tougher cuts like hangar steak, I marinate them first and once they're cooked I slice them thinly across the grain.
For 1.5" - 2" thick Ribeye or New York Strip or even a thick bone in Pork Chop. Bring your meat to room temperature.
Turn oven on to 450-500.
Pat your meat dry.
Season your meat with just Pepper.
If you want more flavor than this dust with a coating of cumin, paprika or a type of chili powder. Maybe rosemary and garlic for the Chops.(I don't do this but as an option I've seen steaks coated with ghee or olive oil for a marinade of sorts. Just rub the spices in and let it soak in whilst the oven heats up. Still no salt). Just before your getting ready to take the skillet out of the oven give a generous coat of Kosher salt and pat it in. No more than a minute before it goes on the pan.
The reason for the late salting is because to attain the perfect crust you need the steaks to be as dry as possible. If done to early the salt draws moisture to the surface of the meat causing a steaming effect during the sear.(Not the goal of a pan sear).
Cast iron skillet in the oven at 450-500 5 minutes past the timer. Have your burner going on high. Transfer pan to burner. Turn oven to 400. Put steaks in a dry pan for 2-4 minutes depending on your liking per side. then transfer back to the oven for 3-5 minutes to finish. Last let them rest for 7-10 minutes on a warm plate and get ready to enjoy perfection.