Steak. The simplest of dishes. It consists of beef, and … well that’s all. Told you it was simple. Along with lobster, steak is an ultimate food. No wonder steak and lobster is such a popular pairing.
Steak has been a passion of mine for the past 10 years. I’ve always had an interest in learning how to cook but it was never a strong interest. During college, my roommates and I learned just enough to get by, mixed in with a lot of fast food runs when we could afford it. When I moved to a different city for a job, I was on my own with few friends so I decided I had to learn how to cook.
My attempts to cook steak in college were laughable to say the least. If it was beef, and shaped like a steak, it was fair game. Sprinkling meat tenderizers all over the steak. Pounding the “steak” with a heavy tenderizer hammer, causing such a loud commotion our landlord to come down the stairs to see what was going on.
No matter what we tried, our dreams of tender, juicy, flavorful steaks were shattered when we bit into these chewy, tough, sorry excuses for steak.
It was obvious we did not know what we were doing.
So I set out to change all of that. The internet was still a nascent technology in 1995, but in 2005 was much more useful for seeking out information, with Google becoming recognized as being able to “find anything.”
So I used Google, and learned how to cook a decent steak. Choose the right cut. Salt, pepper, Montreal seasoning, Chicago steak seasoning. Sear on high heat for four minutes on each side. Then low heat to finish it. Poke with your finger until it was no longer soft but before it was too tough. Let rest 5 minutes. Eat.
Aha! I finally figured out how to cook a steak that rivals the one you can get at Denny’s. Not bad!
I was on my way. I was bitten with the cooking bug. Alongside steak I learned how to smoke bbq, cook fish, grill or roast chicken and turkey. It appears that applying heat or fire to meat was my calling. I searched high and low for new steak techniques: watching Steve Raichlen on PBS, learning food science from Alton Brown on the Food Network, participated in cooking and bbq forums, Americas Test Kitchen also on PBS, spending hours upon hours searching, and trying, these new techniques.
I subscribed to Cooks Illustrated (a monthly newsletter put out by America’s Test Kitchen). While their recipes are sometimes a bit off, their food science discussions and methodical testing are worth the subscription. It was in their newsletters and accompanying show that I was able to put together what I think is the Perfect Steak Recipe.
I do not pretend to be some food pioneer, or that these techniques are even my own. Like almost everything else, it is all borrowed from elsewhere just put together a little differently. Each part can be seen elsewhere, but I have never seen it put together, so that’s what I do here.
The Recipe in a nutshell:
- Choose the right cut of steak.
- Salt the steak one hour (or more) before cooking.
- Pat the steak dry, insert a thermometer probe, place the steak in a preheated 275F oven.
- Remove the steak when it hits 95F, sear on a medium-hot skillet, 1.5 minutes each side.
- Let rest 5-10 minutes.
That’s it! That’s all you need to create the perfect steak. It will be well seasoned throughout the steak. It will be a perfect medium rare from top to bottom, with no nasty Gray Matter (more on that later).
Your family will love you. Your friends will ask you when you’re going to cook steak again. They’ll offer to buy the steak and throw a party, if only you will cook it. This isn’t hot air I’m puffing. This has all happened to me, and still happens.
All you need is the nutshell above when cooking. Read on to find out the specifics of the technique, but after reading, all you will need is the above 5 step checklist.
Now onto the meat and potatoes of the recipe: