Steak. The king of meat. From the blue cheese smell of a raw, well-aged cut to the delectable, sweet, and smoky taste of a well-grilled chunk of beef, there’s nothing like it. But there’s nothing sadder than poorly cooked beef steaks. First of all, it’s a terrible waste of good food, and second, there’s no reason why you can’t have a steak like a professional chef.
No matter where you go, a steak will taste different, and that’s because each chef has their own secret method of treating and cooking the steak. But in recent times, some chefs have become a little more open about some of the techniques involved in cooking a steak well. So, Heston Blumenthal’s blow torch technique aside, you should have no problem if you follow this advice.
Dry Beef Steaks Out
This might sound counterintuitive to getting a juicy steak, but the first secret to great beef steaks is actually allowing it to dry them out. If you have the room and you are serious about your meat, a dry aging cabinet is a beautiful appliance to treat your beef. However, for most of us, the fridge will work almost as well, as all you need is dry air.
When using the fridge, however, you will need steak that has already been aged. Cuts can be aged up to 120 days, but the average age of a good steak is 30 days. To dry your steak, simply lay it on a rack, season both sides with good quality salt, and leave it uncovered in the fridge for up to three days. This is known as dry brining. Dry brining allows the salt to penetrate the meat, but the dry exterior provides a great crust when cooked.
Butter, Butter, and More Butter
How do steakhouses get that unique taste on their steak? Butter. In particular, clarified butter. The reason for using clarified butter is that it has a higher smoking temperature than standard butter. Normal butter isn’t adequate for cooking steak recipes since searing at an extremely high temperature is necessary for cooking it properly.
Clarified butter adds lots and lots of flavor to your cut. The rich, nutty flavor associated with cooked butter permeates your meat when cooked in lashings of clarified butter. Additionally, clarified butter emulsifies on the meat and makes it shiny, helping with presentation. You can also use any butter left in the pan for a red wine deglaze.
Use the Oven
A critical method of cooking beef steaks is searing them in a pan. However, you shouldn’t be afraid to use your oven for cooking steak as well, especially with significant cuts such as a side of beef. Cuts like this are best seared in a pan and then placed in the oven to cook through. Searing won’t be enough, and if you try to cook a substantial cut this way, you will burn the outside with minimal cooking inside.
Other thick cuts such as sirloin, T-bone, and fillet mignon can also benefit from oven cooking. There are varying times for each amount of steak and numerous methods of cutting them following their cook. But generally sized steaks shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes to get the center to 125 degrees, which is ideal for rare meat. Before serving a steak, always leave to rest for 5 minutes and slice against the grain.