For anyone with a penchant for anything meaty, steak is the ultimate luxury food. The great enjoyment that comes from steak is that it is equally great to cook and to eat. It is also a versatile dish – there are many ways of cooking it, and each way produces gloriously different results. What’s more, it can play many parts in a dish, depending on your needs.
Either it is the main star or can be cut up as part of a side dish, such as a salad. However you like it, one thing is for sure – there is a joy in having a perfect steak. But how do you get to that point? Much has been said of cooking the perfect steak, and many people seem to have varying opinions on the matter. Nobody can claim to be the overall master, but there are some generally accepted notions which help any cook to produce an amazing steak. If you are keen to discover just how, then read on.
Choose your method
One of the best things about the perfect steak is how many options you have for how to cook it. Depending on the method, each will produce wildly different results. That’s why it’s important that you choose which method you would like to use. This might depend solely on what you have available; however, there are some preferable options here. Grilling is a real favourite for many people, as it tends to produce a tender steak with a robust exterior. For an idea of what grill to use, see this review of the Traeger Junior Elite. Alternatively, you could adopt the simple pan-fry approach. Less fancy, but the results are still delicious.
The Right Oil
Many people make the mistake of thinking that the oil does not serve an important role. Nothing could be further from the truth. The oil you use makes a considerable difference to the overall result, so choose carefully and wisely. Some of the professionals suggest using groundnut oil to cook steaks, as it has a mild flavour but can withstand high temperatures. However, vegetable oil or olive oil will suffice if it is all you have available.
Dressing the steak
Whether or not to dress the steak really depends on your beef philosophy. If you are someone who likes the taste of the meat just as it is, then you might decide that naked is the way to go. However, there is much to be said for making your steak well-dressed. The kind of dressing you use does, of course, make a huge difference. This decision will at least in part be decided by the overall meal, and what other tastes you have going on. Honey and mustard, or a balsamic glaze, are both viable options which tend to work well. However, don’t forget the simple yet important act of seasoning the steak with salt and pepper too.
Cooking – How to know when it’s done
Now it’s time to cook the steak. Everybody has their own preference for how well-done they like their steak. Indeed, this is the one meal which people tend to be quite fussy about! However, there are many people who don’t know know how to achieve that perfection they are looking for. So what is the secret? How do you know when your steak is rare, medium or well-done? The easiest way to tell is by prodding the steak with your index finger. As a general rule, this should be sufficient to tell how cooked it is. A rare steak will spring back immediately against the finger. Medium, will bounce very slightly. And a well-done steak will be quite firm to the touch.
The Rest Period
Many people completely overlook this, (I have) and yet it is one of the most important stages of the entire process. After you’ve cooked your steak, it is important not to serve it up immediately. For a steak to be properly done, it needs to rest first before serving. Why should this be the case? Actually, it’s quite simple. During the rest period, the fibres in the steak reabsorbs the juices that have left. This results in that moist and tender finish which everyone looks for in their steak. Your steak should rest for around five minutes. Don’t worry about the heat being lost – for a significant amount of heat to be lost takes around ten minutes or more. Follow these steps, and you are bound to find yourself with the perfect steak! Now it’s just a matter of perfecting the rest of the meal.