A perfect steak can sometimes feel elusive. If it's not cooked just right, it can be tough, dry and even a bit bland. Don't despair. Follow these five simple, time-tested steps below and you'll enjoy a mouthwatering steak in no time.
To fry a really good steak, you'll need a really hot surface. We recommend using a heavy-bottomed pan that allows for maximum heat retention and an evenly-heated surface. Cast iron pans are especially great for this. Try to avoid anything with a non-stick coating. While it makes for easy cleaning, it can make it more difficult to get a crispy, caramelized surface on your steak.
Also, be sure to use a pan that's large enough for the steak (or steaks) you want to cook. If it looks like your meat will be crowded in the pan, find a bigger one. If you don't have a bigger one, cook your steaks one at a time. Crowded steaks result in irregular heating and cooking -- something you want to avoid.
Try to remember that a quality piece of beef seasons itself. That's why we recommend just using a liberal amount of salt and pepper on both sides of the steak. You really don't need anything else to enhance the natural beef flavor. In fact, if you follow the Argentinian tradition (and they know their beef!), you'll want to salt your steaks and let them sit for about 40 minutes before cooking. The process draws water out and lets salt in, leaving you with an even tenderer, tastier steak.
As for cooking oil, use something neutral like sunflower oil or regular olive oil. These oils have fairly high smoke points, which means they are well-suited to sear your beef at high temperatures without smoking up your kitchen. They also have mild flavors that won't detract from the meat.
In order to get a good sear, you'll need your hot cooking surface to caramelize the outside of your steak. Setting your stove temperature to a medium-high heat will help get you that ideal exterior without cooking your steak too quickly.
Also, let your cooking oil heat up before adding your steak. When the oil "shimmers," it's ready. If the stove has been on for a while and your oil isn't hot enough, incrementally adjust your dial higher until it is.
The perfect steak is cooked just the way you like it. Cook your steak only as long as it will take to reach the perfect doneness. Below is a general rule of thumb for steaks about one inch in thickness:
Remember: Your steak will continue to cook when you take it off the heat. Also, if your steak is a bit thicker, increase your cook times. If thinner, decrease your cook times.
For quality dry-aged beef -- like what we offer at Crowd Cow -- adjust cook times down just a bit. The dry-aging process reduces moisture in the meat. Less time on stove will help you keep your steak juicy and delicious.
We can't stress this enough. No matter how tempting it might be to dig into your steak right away, resist the temptation. The juices inside your steak need to redistribute -- if you slice into immediately after taking it out of the pan, those juices will flow out onto your plate instead. Let your steak sit for at least five minutes.
It's worth the wait. We promise.
To learn more about cooking techniques or to access recipes for any cut of beef, head to crowdcow.com/beef.