Cookbook:Grilled Beef Steak
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Cooking a great steak entirely depends on preparation and choice of meat. Here is a simple recipe for pan-frying and broiling a steak.
Selection of meat
The best steaks will have been aged for some amount of time, and will be well-marbled with fat.
In the US, meat is graded based on marbling; for steak, one should select prime (most marbled) or choice (second most). Select (third most) is a budget cut, which one may find acceptable, and lower cuts are not recommended for steak.
There are numerous cattle breeds; particularly well-known in the US are Angus, a Scottish breed, and Wagyu, a number of Japanese breeds, together with crossbreeds of these two, called “American Style Kobe Beef”.
- See: Steak cuts
There are many good cuts of beef for steak; rib-eye and New York strip are always good choices.
- See: Temperature
Degree of doneness is a matter of personal preference, with people often having strong feelings, rejecting meat that is cooked more or less than their preference.
For optimal flavor, authorities recommend rare or medium rare (so the meat is still pink or red), as well-done meat is dried out. Well-done meat and those who like it are much derided among steak cognoscenti, and some steakhouses refuse to cook steak well-done. But in the end, this is a purely a personal preference and you should feel to cook your steak to whatever level of doneness suits your taste buds.
For other meats, conventional doneness varies – see critical control point for safety details:
- Pork is generally cooked to at least 145° (medium, pink and firm) for trichinosis prevention, though the risk of trichinosis from pork in the United States is very low (it is significant in other parts of the world, however).
- Chicken should be cooked to at least 165° (well, cooked through) to prevent salmonellosis, which is a serious risk in the United States: in 2005 16.3% of chickens were infected with salmonella.
- Salmon steaks that are cooked rare have a raw interior, which is effectively sashimi; some like this, though for health concerns, one should use sashimi-quality salmon.
- Scallops are similar to salmon.
Generally one minimally seasons steak, as the meat is expensive and one wishes to taste the meat, not the seasoning. However, one frequently uses some seasoning, particularly salt.
One may marinate steak for hours or overnight, and there is great variation in marinades.
Pan-fried/oven-broiled Steak Recipe
- a cut of steak, as above
- rock salt or coarse sea salt
- olive oil
Outline of cooking
- Times vary significantly, depending on thickness of steak, precise cooking temperature, and desired doneness.
- You will likely need to experiment with your setup to find what works for you; you can test temperatures using a thermometer or by cutting the steak, but beware that piercing or cutting releases the moisture – once you have figured out correct timings, you should avoid testing the temperature.
- This method shows stove-cooking (pan frying, to sear the outside, yielding browning), followed by oven-cooking (roasting, to ensure even cooking), both at high heat. One can omit the oven, but this results in less even cooking (potentially charred exterior, undercooked interior), particularly for thicker cuts.
- Note that searing yields browning, which is tasty, attractive, and yields a pleasing contrast between the crisp exterior and soft interior, but in no way “seals in the juices”.
- The frying phase can result in quite a bit of smokiness. Plan ahead by opening windows or otherwise ventilating the kitchen.
- Make sure to bring the steak to room temperature before beginning to cook it.
- Rinse the meat with cold water and dry it with a paper towel.
- Coat it very lightly with olive oil.
- Grind the salt and peppercorns into a small bowl (use your judgement as to how much to use), mix them together, and rub this onto the meat, coating both sides.
- The more salt and pepper you use, the more crust you'll get once it's done, but you may also cover up the natural flavor of the beef.
Pre-heat your oven to as high a temperature as your pan will take: for example, the average plastic-handled aluminum grill pan will only survive up to around 160° C (300° F), but a cast iron pan can go higher.
Heat a skillet or grill pan (cast-iron is best, as it holds temperature best; a non-stick one will not work and should not be used) on a stove on medium to medium high heat until it is evenly heated (the higher temperature will finish cooking the outside more quickly, allowing a pinker center). A steak already coated with oil does not require any extra in the pan; otherwise, wait until the oil starts to shimmer (but before it starts to smoke) and then add the steak.
Cook – stove
Put the steak onto the pan – it should sizzle, indicating that the pan is hot enough – and let it cook for about two to three minutes (times approximate).
After about two or three minutes, flip the meat over (with tongs or spatula – avoid piercing the meat, as this lets juices out), and cook for another two to three minutes (times approximate).
Cook – oven
After pan frying, put the entire works (pan plus meat) into the oven, and let it roast for two to four minutes (times approximate).
Remove the steak promptly from the oven, put it on a plate, and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. This ensures more even cooking (as the cooler interior continues to heat), and that the juices inside the steak can re-distribute through the meat.
Add red wine, a starch (potatoes, rice, or bread), and enjoy.