When it comes to cooking, many people think that steak is one of the hardest things to get right. But it’s possible to cook a good steak yourself in your kitchen. All you need is your favourite cut, a cast iron skillet, oils and seasonings, and a pair of long-handled tongs.
Attention to ingredients and timing will ensure that you get your steak’s doneness to your liking. Here are some tips for cooking the perfect steak, whichever cut you prefer.
1. Choose your preferred cut
The cut of steak you use will affect the flavour and tenderness. Apart from the well-loved sirloin, rib-eye, and fillet, there are other underrated steaks that also deliver in terms of flavour and texture.
The flat iron steak is especially flavourful with loads of fat marbling and a smooth texture. It also comes in a size that leaves you satisfied. Just be sure to remove the tough muscle in its centre.
Common types of cut include:
Fillet: This is prized as the most expensive cut because it is the most tender and demand for it is high. It has little fat, and is best eaten rare.
Sirloin: Sirloin comes from the back of a beef animal, behind its ribs but ahead of the rump area. It’s often quite lean, with little fat content. Like the fillet, this is considered a prime steak because it is lean but tender, particularly when cooked to medium-rare.
Rib-eye: Ribeye steaks are cut right from the rib area of the animal. They’re usually fattier than other steaks. Be it boneless or on the bone, ribeye tastes best medium rare.
T-bone: Best option for sharing because the portion is thick and large enough to feed more than one person, T-bone steak is best seared or grilled fast, then finished in the oven so that it is cooked evenly.
2. Don’t skimp on the prep work
Before you start, allow your steak to thaw to room temperature about an hour prior to cooking. Grilling it when it is cold prevents the heat from reaching the middle effectively. Make sure that your pan or skillet is very hot before you begin as this helps to caramelise the meat while keeping the crust crisp.
3. Choose the right equipment
A cast iron skillet or thick-based frying pan will deliver the best results as they can get really hot and retain their heat well – ideal for attaining the charred smoky exterior.
The pan should be roomy enough so that your steak can absorb heat more efficiently and evenly. Cook in batches or one or two at a time, leaving them to rest as you cook the next batch. Alternatively, you can cook a thicker steak and carve it up into smaller slices.
4. Pick flavourful seasonings...
Some people prefer to keep seasoning to a minimum (just salt and pepper) so that the original flavour of the beef doesn’t get overpowered.
Seasoning your steak with salt before cooking doesn’t draw out the moisture from it. Rather, it gives your steak enough time to absorb the salt so that it’s more evenly seasoned. A rough guide: You should salt your steak two hours ahead for every one centimetre of thickness.
Another way of enhancing the flavour of your steak is by marinating it for about fifteen to twenty minutes before cooking, which also makes your meat more tender. Balsamic vinegar, or a coat of honey and mustard, helps to add a sweet glaze, while a teriyaki or miso marinade gives a more savoury taste.