Every carnivore loves to gobble down a tender roast meal bursting with charred meaty goodness! A real meat lover would never pass up an opportunity to consume a succulent fillet fresh off the griddle. But as easy as devouring a steak is, cooking it is not. Achieving that beautiful sear over a steak without losing all the juices in the meat is not a cakewalk; it’s an artful skill that can only be mastered with practice and experience.
That said, there are a few techniques to cook a steak perfectly, even if someone is a newbie cook. If you want to learn those tricks, then keep on reading because here we have a list of techniques from culinary gurus that will give you a thick and juicy steak anywhere.
Prepare The Meat
Prepping the meat is a critical step that comes before all else. You may think that preparing a steak means seasoning it up well, but that’s not our idea of readying the meat.
To cook a thick meat cutlet to perfection, you should warm it up a bit for 30-60 minutes before putting it on the griddle. The Curious Cook, aka Harold McGee, the famous American food author, suggests wrapping the steak in a cling film and immerse it in a pot of warm water for anywhere close to an hour. Take your brisket out just a few minutes before cooking.
Another cooking expert, Alain Ducasse, the French-born Monegasque Michelin star chef, believes that to make a tender roast is to allow the meat to come to room temperature before placing it over the fire.
To get the best of both worlds, you can bring up your steak’s temperature by following Harold’s suggestion before allowing it to come to room temperature right before cooking, just as Alain has advised.
According to the famous British steakhouse Hawksmoor and America’s Test Kitchen’s Cook Illustrated Recipe Book, patting a steak dry before cooking is a failsafe secret to an ideal medium-rare piece of meat. Of course, you need to be careful with the cooking time, but if you do that right, you can get the perfect fillet, all thanks to dabbing.
Wet meat takes an eternity to form a beautifully charred crust, and while it struggles on the grill, it can catch some unpleasant boiled-meat aromas. If you can’t dab your fillet dry, leave it at room temperature for a while; doing so will take away some of the moisture from it.
Anyone who has ever tried making a steak or watched someone else do it would know that seasoning is a crucial part of the process. But surprisingly, the culinary world seems to be divided over the idea of flavoring up a roast before cooking. Although many culinary maestros agree that seasoning is integral to cooking a steak, some food experts believe otherwise, such as the French physical chemist Herve This.
In his book Kitchen Mysteries, Herve suggests steering clear of salting when fixing a steak because the ensuing process of osmosis robs the meat of its juices when the muscle fibers are cut open. But most culinary masters do not agree with Herves’s opinion.
America’s Test Kitchen’s magazine-Cook’s Illustrated, Ducasse, the Wall Street Journal, Hawksmoor, the Leiths Meat Bible, and April Bloomfield of New York’s The Spotted Pig, among many others, firmly believe that seasoning a steak is of the essence when cooking a thick piece of meat.
Moreover, in a guide on how to cook a steak on his website, the famous British Chef Jamie Oliver instructs cooks to rub a generous amount of salt and pepper over their steaks before cooking.
“Rub the steak all over with a good lug of olive oil and a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper.”
Now whether you want to go with the scientific guy, aka the French Chemist, or the rest of the culinary world, that’s up to you. But what we can tell you is that salt definitely helps in crisping up a steak on the grill.
And if you are worried about the loss of juices, keep the cooking time as brief as possible.
Like seasoning, adding fat to a steak is also a point of contention in the culinary world. Some food experts, such as Herve This, and Nigel Slater, favor brushing butter or oil on the cutlet while cooking. Others, including The Wall Street Journal, Fearnley-Whittingstall, and the Ginger Pig Meat Book by Fran Warde and Tim Wilson, believe in greasing the pan instead of the steak.
The British culinary wizard, Jamie Oliver also likes to rub olive oil over his steaks while grilling/frying. Alain Ducasse has his own way of introducing fat in his steaks; he roasts the meat without any grease for a while, then once it turns brown, he adds butter to the pan and infuse it with garlic for extra flavor.
Whether you grease the pan or rub fat over the meat, be sure that you do not overcook the lard you add because that will ruin the savory flavor you want to have in your steak.
Most cooking experts have a personal stance on setting the temperature when cooking a steak. Some like to keep the flame high, such as Slater, Hawksmoor, and Hervé This while others prefer to keep a moderate heat like the Ginger Pig, Fearnley-Whittingstall, the WSJ, and Bloomfield. America’s Test Kitchen’s Cook Illustrated recommends superheating the pan then cranking down the flame after adding the steak.
Essentially, it all boils down to the degree of charred flavor you want in your meat. If you enjoy an overpowering smoky aroma, then perhaps you should follow Slater, Hawksmoor, and Herve’s lead. But if you like a moderate sear, then you should keep the heat moderate.
We kept the best for the last; Flipping!
Flipping a steak makes all the difference in its texture. Almost every chef and food expert agree that when flipping a steak, doing it at short intervals is vital. Ideally, turn your steak over every 45 to 60 seconds and press on the meat to improve thermal contact. Most importantly, don’t ever leave a fillet unattended, whether on the grill or pan, because that’s a recipe for disaster.
To enjoy the perfect steak, prepare it with care, and follow the culinary gurus!