A top-notch restaurant steak is hard to beat, but it can be a costly undertaking. At home, learn to cook a steak at half the price, without a grill.
When did you last experience a quality teak house? You know what we mean, the kind of linen tablecloths, soft candlelight, a la carte side dishes that are terribly overpriced, and a waiter who's both professional and slightly condescending. Apart from the haughty service staff, steakhouses are usually a pleasure and expensive.
There is no reason why you can not have the same incredible steak at home and less than half of what this fancy steakhouse costs. Also, you will not get a wink from the waiter if you ask if you can take the bread home in a box. Win-win, in our opinion. Would you like to know how this is possible? Let's start at the beginning.
Choose the right cut.
Cooking a steak starts with choosing the right beef piece. Since we probably only add salt, pepper and possibly a few other herbs or spices, the cut used is crucial. There are three main areas that matter when it comes to steak: beef fillet, loin fillet and rib steaks.
The beef fillet sits on the back of the cow. It is very slim and very delicate. It's also pretty expensive. You can best recognize it as Filet Mignon or Chateaubriand. In the world of cooks, it is the favorite of many customers, but is considered tasteless, boring and overpriced. Rule number one in cooking: fat is the same taste. So it makes sense that this meager cut is indeed suitable for cooking as a steak, but is not the choice of the chef. That means you can easily add some fat in the form of bacon (or bacon) to a fillet of fat) or just a nice shot of butter before you finish it.
However, the sirloin is known in the culinary world. It's what you'll see in most steakhouses. It has a bit more fat and therefore a bit more flavor than the filet. Here are cuts from this section listed as NY Strip, Kansas City Steak and Top Loin.
Finally there are the rib steaks. These tend to pack a lot of flavor. They also tend to lack of tenderness. Steaks in this category include T-Bones, Rib Eyes and Porterhouse Steaks. Other areas, such as the round, fried, and front or rear thighs, are more stringent, tougher, and often left to other cooking methods than what we discuss here.
What to do Preparing the steak before cooking is a matter of opinion. We will discuss some good practices here, but know that there are always other options. First and foremost, many restaurant chefs and house cooks know that steak should not be stored in plastic. It has to breathe! If you are buying it in shrink wrap on a foam tray, remove the plastic as soon as possible and either wrap the steak in butcher paper or place it on a plate in the refrigerator and cover it loosely with paper towels.
Second, it's important to spice up the steak at the right time. There are two schools of thought for this. Some believe it is best to season directly before putting the steak on the grill. others season their steak up to 24 hours in advance. We have found that both methods work. If the steak is seasoned long in advance, it will get the best outer crust, probably because the salt penetrates by diffusion into the muscle fibers, attracts liquid and creates a dry surface. However, seasoning directly before cooking still gives excellent results.
It's all up to you to spice up your steak. But for a first-class cut, we recommend staying with salt and pepper. The steak itself will have a ton of flavor, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper is all you need.
How to cook the steak
You've picked out your cut. They seasoned it and stored it accordingly. Let's cook a steak now!
This part is pretty simple. Preheat your oven to 450 F. Put a cast-iron pan in the oven while it preheats. If it is hot, remove the pan, place it on the stove, set the burner to high heat and add some clarified butter or oil (about a tablespoon).
If the butter or oil has swirled evenly over the pan, add the steaks, being careful not to overfill the pan. Cook for four to five minutes without moving until a crust forms. Turn the steaks over and put them on the stove for another two to three minutes. Then put the entire pan, including the steaks, back into the preheated oven.
How long the steaks cook in the oven depends on how thick they are. We recommend using an instant readable thermometer attached to the side of the thickest part of the steak to determine the whiteness. We also recommend that you remove the steaks from the pan five to ten degrees below the desired cooking level. The temperature of the steaks continues to rise during rest.
Be sure to let it rest for at least ten minutes before serving. And if you feel a bit more like it, you can sprinkle each steak with a piece of butter while you're resting. Restaurants have been using this trick for some time, and we doubt that you will be disappointed.
How to cook a steak, but you may still have some questions. Let's take a deeper look to see if we can answer it.
Why cast iron?
The use of cast iron is essential as it has the impressive ability to maintain a high temperature at a reasonably low cost. Good magic will not set you back much, but it will always give you a nice burn. In the method described above, a cast-iron pan is crucial for making this deep mahogany crust. Our pan moves seamlessly from the oven to the stove and back, which would damage a normal pan at these temperatures.
Many fear the maintenance of a cast-iron pan, but do not fear it. Cast iron is virtually indestructible. You may need to re-season them after serious kitchen disasters, but you will not be forced to do them any real harm. And they are not just for steaks. Any dish that thrives in high heat, such as fajitas or roast chicken, is good for cast iron.
Why finish in the oven?
We know that a baked steak does not sound very appealing. In the restaurant world, however, steak has been cooked in the oven for decades. Even steak houses, claiming that their steaks are flame-fried, are probably only frying them for a few minutes before switching to an oven. While the grill, or a hot cast-iron pan on the stove, is great for searing, it quickly burns the outside of your fillet while keeping the inside insufficiently cooked. Most of us prefer a dark brown and crusty appearance (not blackened) with a perfectly cooked middle. To achieve this, the method works best from oven to oven – or from grill to oven.
Steak does not have to be too expensive. It also does not have to be reserved for the summer months. It is easy to make, easy to impress and does not require a grill. So grab your cast-iron pan, choose the perfect cut and make a steak tonight. You deserve it.