How to Cook the Perfect Steak
The perfect steak is an elusive dish, but those who’ve experienced the sheer bliss of biting into an impeccably seasoned, wonderfully tender and juicy piece of meat know it’s a dish worth waiting for, maybe even worth learning a new skill for.
Many find cooking steak at home daunting, which is understandable as there are a few risks involved. It’s not the cheapest cut of meat and if you’re not sure what you’re doing, you could end up with an inedible hunk of overcooked, chewy sinew. However, cooking steak isn’t too difficult as long as you follow these simple steps. It’s all about preparing your meat well, cooking it for the correct amount of time and letting it rest. See? Easy peasy!
Preparing Your Steak
A good steak is determined by how well you prepare your meat. Follow these steps before you hit the heat to make sure your final product is mouth-wateringly delicious.
Bring Your Meat to Room Temp
Take your steaks out the fridge about 30 – 45 minutes before you want to cook them. This will bring them up to room temperature, allowing the heat to penetrate the centre of the steak more efficiently. Cooking the steak on dry heat is the best method as it gives the meat that brown caramelized look and taste, which is called the ‘maillard reaction’.
Drizzle with Olive Oil and Season with Salt
Pat your steak dry with a paper towel to get rid of any excess moisture. Drizzle with a good glug of olive oil and rub it all over the steak. Once coated, season well with salt.
Cooking your Steak
This won’t take long, so pay attention!
Ripping Hot Pan
Tender cuts of meat don’t need to be cooked for long, so you’re aiming to cook steak on a hot pan, griddle or braai. A hot pan will sear the meat and give you a delicious crust.
Cooking your steak depends on how rare or well-done you like your meat. Try not to cook it above medium as it will become very dry and lose it’s juices and tenderness. Aim for between 4 and 6 minutes a side, but always watch your meat closely as your heat won’t always be standard, especially if you’re grilling on an open fire. Look at the side of the steak to see if the edges are getting nice colour. Once flipped, give it a prod with your finger to see if it bounces back.
Whatever you do, do not cut into the steak to check its doneness. You will release all of the juices and end up with a dry, disappointing piece of meat. Stick to cooking times and if you really are unsure, consider investing in a meat thermometer.
Patience is a virtue, the steak isn’t going anywhere.
Rest the Meat!
We know it smells good and looks even better, but resting the meat for at least 5 minutes (we recommend 10) is arguably the most important step and the secret to a juicy steak. Resting the meat before slicing it allows the steak to retain its juices. The steaks’s juices need to redistribute themselves and slicing too quickly will release them all over the chopping board and trust us, you want those juices.
It also allows the meat to relax as the high heat causes the meat to contract. Allowing it to rest will be the difference between an ‘okay’ steak and an amazing one.
Want to learn more about different types of steak? Have a look at our Basic Guide to Primal Cuts.
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