Each American eats around 220 pounds (or more) of beef every single year. It’s a delicious meat that we can’t have often enough, but a poorly cooked steak is easy to pass up.
With such a beloved dish, it’s important to know how to treat your dinner guests to the perfect steak when they come over to your home. If your steaks never turn out the way you want, then now’s a good time to figure out what’s going wrong.
Listed down below are tips and tricks to help you learn how to cook the perfect steak. Plus, a recipe that’s great for beginners and masters alike!
Choosing the Right Steak
Even the best steak recipe won’t help if the steak itself isn’t the right one for the job. The first thing to look for in a steak is its grade level. The higher the grade, the better the steak, but it’s still possible to cook great steaks on a budget.
In the US, we have three types of grades:
- Select – The lowest grade. These steaks are serviceable but the marbling and quality are not so good, making it tougher and less flavorful.
- Choice – The medium grade. Choice grades have good marbling and flavor and are often the highest grade available in many supermarkets.
- Prime – The highest grade. These are the top-quality steaks that we all dream about, but a lot of general supermarkets don’t even carry these beauties. Most often, you’ll need to go to a butcher for this grade.
Regardless of its USDA grade, always choose a steak that is firm with an even distribution of marbling. The color needs to be a bright pink color, and avoid anything that’s dark red.
Understanding Steak Temperatures
We all have different ideas as to what’s the perfect steak, but knowing how to cook each temperature is a huge asset. When a guest asks for a specific temperature, you want to serve them a steak they love.
While knowing the finger test is good for professionals, an instant thermometer is even better for accurate reads every time. Use the following list to help get the perfect doneness for all preferences:
- Rare: 125º
- Medium Rare: 135º
- Medium: 145º
- Medium Well: 150º
- Well Done: 160º
Allow Time for Resting
It almost seems counter-intuitive to leave a hot steak covered to rest for any amount of time. The problem with skipping this step is that all of the natural juices that make for a flavorful steak are at the edges of the meat.
By allowing it to rest, you’re helping to redistribute those juices throughout the rest of the meat. This gives you the best flavor and texture every single time.
Always give your steak at least a few minutes of resting time before you dive in with high-quality cutlery, such as this modern knife set. It’s difficult to wait, but it’s well worth the effort!
Cater Your Seasonings
It’s easy to go overboard with seasonings. More seasoning seems like a good thing, at first, because it gives the steak more flavor.
For an even better result, it’s best to go with simple seasonings that allow the steak to speak for itself. You’re taking the time to cook a high-quality steak to perfection, why not have the flavor of the meat be the star of the meal?
Rubs and marinades are great for certain dishes, but most of the time, a simple seared steak is perfection, which is what our recipe is all about.
The Best Recipe for Simple Pan-Seared Steak
There are a lot of different ways to cook a steak that all result in a delicious meal. Before you dive into all of those different steak recipes, it’s a good idea to master the simplest version. The following is the best steak recipe to give you a lot of experience cooking steak while allowing you to experiment if you want.
Even if you never cook a steak in any other way, you’ll always have this method in your cooking toolbox. It’ll impress you (and your guests!) for many delicious years.
- Room temperature steak (1 to 1 ½ inch thick of your grade choice)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons garlic butter
- Cast-iron skillet
- Make sure your steaks are at room temperature so that the outside cooks as soon as it touches the hot pan, creating a good sear. Take them out at least a half-hour before cooking.
- Start heating your skillet. A cast-iron skillet takes up to 10 minutes to heat up to the right temperature. Once it starts to smoke a little, it’s ready.
- Pat the steaks dry with some paper towels to get rid of excess moisture, then season with salt, coating both sides with a generous layer.
- Place the steaks into the hot pan, and leave them there for at least 1 minute or until a good crust forms. This is why there’s no oil in this recipe, as it’s not necessary and can hinder a proper sear.
- Once the crust is there, you’re able to flip the steak to the other side without it sticking. Cook the other side for 1 minute as well.
- Continue flipping between the two sides for another 4 minutes.
- Add in the garlic butter (use steak butter or regular butter if you prefer) and tilt your pan to one side to allow the melted butter to collect. Use a spoon to spread the buttery goodness over the steaks as it cooks, keeping the meat tender, juicy, and flavorful. Flip and repeat every minute or so.
- Continue cooking for another 6 minutes, at which time you’ll test for the doneness of the steak.
- Once it reaches your preferred temperature, take the steaks out, and allow them to rest for half the time they cooked.
- Enjoy with all of your favorite sides and sauces!