How To Cook The Perfect Steak

how to cook the perfect steak paleohacks

It seems like everyone has his or her own method for how to end up with the perfect steak. You can grill them, oven broil them, or even pan-fry them: the choice is yours. Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a myriad of different answers on how to cook a perfect steak.

Some of the issues that arise have to do with the type of steak to use, what you marinate or season it with, the best method to use, whether you should salt it before or after, and for how long you should let it cook. We’ll address these issues here.

Cuts of Steaks

If you imagine you’re looking at a cow from the side, the portion of meat directly behind the head (at the shoulder) is called the chuck. This is where most slow-cooked roast cuts will come from, as well as some inexpensive top blade steaks.

A little further back you’ll find some of the most tender cuts of meat, such as rib steaks, short loin steaks, and sirloin.

Short Loin Steaks

If the short loin steaks you buy have the bone in, they’re called shell steaks. If the bone is out they are called New York strip, Kansas City strip, strip steak, or even sirloin strip steak.

Another cut that comes from this area is the tenderloin, which is then cut into the chateaubriand and filet mignon.

The last types of cut that come from the short loin are the t-bone and the porterhouse. The t-bone is made up of meat from the top loin on one side of the bone, and meat from the tenderloin on the other, while the porterhouse is really just a t-bone with a larger piece of the tenderloin attached to it.

Sirloin Steaks

The sirloin area of a cow is the hip. These types of steaks are usually thin, large, and moderately tender. Famous cuts from here are top sirloins and tri-tips. You can also get round-bone, wedge-bone, flat-bone, and pin-bone steaks from here.

Flank Steaks

From just below the hip, on the cow’s belly, is the flank area. This is where flank steaks come from. This type of steak needs to be cooked to rare quickly and sliced thinly against the grain for the best flavor.

 Marinades and Seasonings

Whether you marinate your steak has to do with if it is a grilling steak or a marinating steak. Either type can be grilled, but the marinating steak needs to – you guessed it – be marinated first to help with tenderness. Marinating steaks are usually from the short plate and flank sections while the best grilling steaks are from the loin, sirloin, or rib sections.

If you go with marinating steaks, they do best in an acidic liquid for up to 24 hours. Additionally, this type of steak should be grilled to medium at the most to avoid toughness.

Seasoning

The best steaks need only salt and pepper for seasoning, although you can make a pan sauce, compound butter, or delicious spice rub if you want to kick it up a notch.

Cooking Time

There are several ways to know how cooked a steak is; some people cut into them, although that isn’t really recommended. Instead, you can do the press test or check with a meat thermometer. A thermometer is the most accurate way, obviously. You can also cook it a certain amount of time per side according to thickness depending on how cooked you want it.

Press Test

The press test requires you to press the center of the steak with your finger. A rare steak will be quite soft. Medium-rare will have some resistance but still lots of give. Medium steak is firm but still has some give in the center. Finally, a well-done steak feels very firm.

Thermometer Test

If you’re using a thermometer, cook to between 115 and 120F for an extra-rare or “blue” rare steak, 125 to 130F for a rare steak, between 130 and 140F for a medium-rare steak, between 140 and 150F for a medium steak, between 150 and 155 for a medium-well steak, and to between 160 and 212 for a well-done steak.

Generally, the best flavor comes when you cook a steak to medium-rare, medium, or medium-well.

Cooking Time Per Side (Grilling)

Thickness          Med-Rare           Medium               Med-Well

1/2 to 3/4”          3-4 min                4-5 min               5-6 min

1”                       5-6 min               5-7 min               7-8 min

1 1/2”               9-10 min              10-14 min            14-16 min

2”                    11-14 min             14-18 min            18-20 min

Oven Method

Everyone knows how to grill a steak, right? It’s pretty much a given. We’re going to tell you how to use an oven instead. This is great in the event that the weather is too bad to grill outside, you run out of propane for your BBQ, or someone steals your BBQ. Seriously – it happens.

Ingredients:

  • Approximately 1lb of steak (ribeye, t-bone, or other tender grilling steak) for every two people (1 1/2 – 2” thick)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Oil (avocado, olive, or melted tallow or lard will work)

Equipment:

  • Oven
  • Cast iron skillet large enough to hold the steak
  • Tongs
  • High-heat oven mitt

Directions:

  1. Take the steak out of the package and blot dry with a paper towel. Let it come to room temperature.
  2. Turn your oven on to Broil and place the top rack between six and eight inches below the burner. Put your cast iron pan under the broiler as the oven warms up.
  3. Brush about two tablespoons of oil on the steak and then season with salt and pepper. Pat the steak so the seasoning sticks.
  4. Turn one of your burners on to high.
  5. Remove the cast iron pan from the oven and place it on the hot burner. Let it heat for a minute then place the steak onto the pan. It should hiss and sizzle immediately.
  6. Flip after 30 seconds and repeat on the second side.
  7. Turn off the burner and place the cast iron pan into the oven. Cook the steak for two minutes per side for medium-rare; add one to two minutes per side if you prefer it closer to medium.
  8. Take the pan from the oven and immediately remove the steak to a large plate. Tent with aluminum foil and let it rest for about five minutes.
  9. Cut the steak against the grain and fan the pieces out on each serving plate. Serve immediately with a nice salad and a great bottle of wine.

To Salt Before Or After?

If you’re going to salt before you cook, either do it at least 40 minutes before you cook the steak, or directly before you put it on the pan to sear. If you do it between 10 and 30 minutes or so before you cook, the juices that the salt causes to come from within the steak will ruin the sear and just lower the temperature of your pan.

There’s really no reason to salt after you cook the steak; the point is to have it seared or cooked into the surface of the steak.

 

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Comments

  1. avatarJohn says

    While steak is still hot you need to bless the steak with a fat such as bacon fat or a good butter, this real finishes a steak off.

  2. avatar says

    In case you were wondering the technique you have described here is formerly known as

    “Pan Roasting” , which is a combination of pan searing and roasting. It’s a pretty common way to cook a steak in popular steak houses.

    My technique is very similar… different only in subtle ways. I sear mine a bit longer and spend a bit less time in the oven.. but I am sure the result is very similar.

    Here is a 3rd way: https://www.lobels.com/recipe/tutorial_panroast_steak.aspx

    and I am sure a google search on pan roasted steak will net you more results

  3. avatar says

    Interesting article but in my 70’s I have recently discovered a fool proof formulae for cooking all standard cut 3/4 to 1 inch thick steaks. Both high end and marinating types which I never marinate.
    This beef is all our own grass fattened beef and some of the best I have ever eaten is lately, and I think I know my steaks having eaten white or Kobe and Australian, Agentinian, North American, and the Best of British/ Scots premium.
    The beef we are eating and selling is last springs bull calves left entire. I was very concerned and would not have believed they could be so good, but the proof is in the eating. The cooking time is two minutes each side with salt and pepper to taste in a cast iron fry pan on an electric ring in my beefmobile sales venue to supply customer samples. I cook or fry all samples from blade to porterhouse to the same formulae using butter as the fry medium. I discovered if you are too hot to the smoke point of butter you are effectively burning the steak. I used to tent in tinfoil but get just as good results by turning the heat off and allowing five minutes rest for medium . Some blade has turned out every bit as tender and flavor full as prime rib. Ridiculous as it may seem last week I fried some heel of round stew beef cubes and was astounded at the tenderness. Very slightly tougher than the best steaks.
    Sorry for length of post but have been involved in fattening cattle, both grain and grass fat for almost 60 yrs hands on and I am now having to revise my opinions. The only steak I’ve eaten in comparison to lately was in Argentine about 12 yrs ago.
    The old timers on the Uk Borders in my youth used to say thee was nothing better than grass fattened ‘Park’ cattle. I believe we are eating the equal or better than seasonally fat big game such as young bull moose off the best ground.

  4. avatarElenor says

    Ah, and if you can afford it — buying Mike and Mary Dan Eades’ Sous Vide Supreme is the best possible way to cook a steak! O.M.G.!

    (I’m not affiliated with them or their site sousvidesupreme.com — but I have the original SVS, and the later, smaller Sous Vide Demi. When I crowed to Dr Mike on his blog that my husband had bought me “a baby Sous Vide — and it’s BLUE!” Mike mock-grumbled and said it was not a ‘baby’ sous vice — maybe an adolescent, because it is only 17% smaller than the Sous Vide Supreme… But I don’t care — it’s BLUE!!!) (And oh, it makes the BEST most-tender steaks! And other meats, and vegs, and desserts and and and….)

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