When cooking an expensive steak for your family or friends, you want to make sure you cook it right. With What’s Cooking America’s step-by-step resource guide you will learn how to cook perfect steaks every time! You will not only learn how to cook the perfect steak, but also how to purchase and prepare the steaks.
The most important tip I have learned over the years is that using dry heat is the best way to cook perfect steaks and other tender cuts of meat. Dry heat cooking causes the exterior of the meat to brown and caramelize which gives the steaks a richly browned complex flavor. This is partly a result of the sugars inherent in the meat going through a series of complex reactions called the “Maillard reaction.” The moisture on the surface of the meat also evaporates and the juices becomes concentrated, forming the appealing brown crust.
When buying steaks, buy the best grade of meat you can afford. It should be USDA Prime Aged Beef. If your butcher does not have this, the next best grade is USDA Choice.
Look for steak with fine texture and firm to the touch. You want the color to be a light cherry red color (not deep red).
Also look for steaks that have marbling, as it is the thin threads of fat running through the meat that make it prime and gives the wonderful flavor. Marbling is the white fat that you see in all cuts of beef. Remember that a substantial amount of evenly distributed marbling is a good thing. Look for small, evenly distributed specks of fat rather than larger and sparser ones.
Marbling are the fine specks of fat within the meat. While studies show that marbling does not significantly increase the caloric count of beef, it greatly enhances flavor and tenderness. Beef that is richly marbled gets a higher grade as it is more tender, juicy, and flavorful because the intramuscular fat melts and bastes the flesh during cooking. Also, since fat insulates, marbling provides some insurance against overcooking. If you don’t want much animal fat in your diet, then don’t eat steak! To avoid fat in steak is to avoid steak altogether!
Size or thickness matters when purchasing steaks. The best steaks are 1-inch to 1 1/2-inches thick. A thin cut is likely to get dried out. The thickness of the steak is more important than the weight.
Do not salt your steaks just before cooking. I know that some people do salt their steaks before cooking, but trust me and don’t salt – the result will be juicy, delicious steaks to serve your family and guests! Salt after the steak is cooked to your liking, has rested the required time, and just before serving.
Salt brings moisture (water) to the surface of the steak, and the water sits on the surface as you cook the steak. Thus, you are again basically steaming the steak. Traditionally, when browning meat, chefs skip the addition of salt because the salt draws water out of the meat’s surface through osmosis. If, for example, you were to season a steak just 10 minutes before grilling, beads of moisture would appear on the surface, eventually forming a shallow puddle of juices. On the grill, the steak would turn gray, not brown.
On Food and Cooking, by Harold McGee (Food Scientist):
Meat cells brown at around 310 degrees F. Water on a steak’s surface boils and turns to steam at 212 degrees F, so a wet steak can turn gray and cook through before its surface can brown.
Using A Meat Thermometer:
What constitutes rare and medium-rare cooked meat? To satisfy government home economists, the Beef Council says rare beef means an internal temperature of 140 degrees F. Well, that is ok if you like well-done and dry meat. If you like moist, rosy meat (like I do), rare begins when the internal temperature registers 120 degrees F. and starts to become medium rare at 125 or 130 degrees F. To cook your meat properly, you must purchase and use a good instant-read digital meat thermometer.
This is the type of cooking and meat thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking. I get many readers asking what cooking/meat thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking and baking. I, personally, use the Thermapen Thermometer shown in the photo on the right. To learn more about this excellent thermometer and to also purchase one (if you desire), just click on the underlined: Thermapen Thermometer.
Residual Heat or Carry-Over Cooking: Remember, the steak will continue to cook as it sets. The temperature will rise to 125 degrees F. to 130 degrees F. internal temperature (medium rare) at 15 to 20 minutes. So, pay attention to how long you let the cooked steak sit before serving!
Residual Heat Definition: Carry-over cooking is caused by residual heat transferring from the hotter exterior of the meat to the cooler center. As a general rule, the larger and thicker the cut of meat, and the higher the cooking temperature, the more residual heat will be in the meat, and the more the internal temperature will rise during resting due to carry-over cooking. This means the meat must be removed from the heat at an internal temperature lower than your desired final internal temperature, allowing the residual heat to finish the cooking.
How To Cook Perfect Steaks Recipe
Types of Beef Steaks:
Choosing the correct cut of meat is very important when grilling. Some of the best steaks for grilling are the premium cuts. Thickness of the steak is very important. Each cut should be between 1 inch and 1 inches thick. The strip steaks and top sirloin should be a little less expensive than the filet mignon, t-bone, porterhouse, and rib eye.
Photos from Hormel Foods and CSU Meat Sciences.
Favorite Steak Recipes:
Beef Tenderloin Steaks Stuffed with Morels
Cabernet-Cherry Filet Mignon
Cabernet Filet Mignon
Chipotle Grilled Filets
Grilled Beef Tenderloin in Cabernet Sauce
Grilled Filet Mignon or T-Bone Steaks
Peppered Top Sirloin Steak
Individual Beef Wellingtons with Peppercorn Sauce
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