I’m really fussy about steak. Really fussy. To the point where I wouldn’t eat it anywhere other than the finest of fine restaurants for a very long time. Home-cooked steaks just never tasted right: they were thin and grey and tough. Not the huge, rich, red-brown stacks you got eating out.
It took me years to figure out how to cook steak “properly”. The good news? It’s actually not all that hard. There are, in fact, exactly three secrets to the process:
- The cut.
And that’s basically it.
Here. I’ll show you…
Buy the most expensive goddamn cut of steak you can afford and/or like to eat. Good bets are anything called rib eye, tenderloin, or eye fillet. However, this is under the proviso that steak cut names vary by region, so do some Googling first.
The type of beef and the supplier also make a huge difference. Angus or “Wagyu”/”Kobe” (in scare quotes because, unless you’re actually in Japan, the chance you’re buying real Wagyu or Kobe beef is pretty much nil) is generally the best, and will be advertised as such. Personally, I prefer Angus, since it usually has less marbling:
#onepercentproblems I know, but I’m not a huge fan of heavily marbled steak. I also prefer, where possible, grass-fed, but that’s for ethical rather than flavour reasons.
Lots of choices but, as it turns out, after trying a variety of suppliers, our favourite steaks (and the ones pictures) are rib eyes from the local Costco. They aren’t cheap. But gods they’re good.
So you’ve got your steaks. I hope you weren’t planning on eating them tonight, because you’re not going to be. Instead, grab a container of some sort, put the steaks in, and cover them with some sort of marinade. I have two favourites. The first is a beer and soy combo, but the one I’m going to talk about here is red wine.
Grab a bottle, and pour it over your steaks so they’re at least half (if not totally) covered. Throw in some other things for flavour: garlic is fun, pepper is essential, onions or shallots if you remember. Then seal everything up and leave it in the fridge, for at least 24 hours.
Do not skip this step. I know it’s tempting. “It doesn’t really make that much of a difference, right?”
Wrong. You’ve just spent $50+ on some meat, so don’t fuck it up. Marinade that shit, and eat something else for dinner tonight.
24+ hours later (a.k.a. “Butter”)…
Now you’re ready to cook. Take your marinating steak and leave it out on the bench for twenty-ish minutes, until it comes back up to about room temperature. This step isn’t strictly necessary, if you’re in a hurry, but it sure does make you feel like a Pro Chef.
Once that’s done, you’ll need a skillet and an oven. Heat the skillet up to a medium heat, and the oven up to around 220°C.
When the skillet is warm, cut off a huge fuckoff knob of butter, and melt it in the skillet. No, I said huge. And butter. Seriously. Don’t cheap out on that blended margarine spread shit: actual butter. And not oil either, and for gods’ sakes not olive oil. Olive oil is for eating, not for cooking! Stop using it for cooking in right now, and use butter instead. Seriously. Butter.
Yes, butter burns. Hence we only heat our skillet up to medium (I have it around a 6 on my 1-10 “increment” stove). We need to get it to a temperature where, when you throw the butter in the pan, it turns into a delicious foam. That foam is the Pro Cook Foam. Learn how to make it, then make everything in it.
Season your foam with some pepper. Also possibly salt, though some people disavow putting salt on raw meat. Up to you. But definitely pepper.
Now put the steaks in.
You aren’t trying to cook the steaks here, just sear them. So about 30 seconds on each side, and also around the edges if your cuts are really thick (they should be). Add some more pepper, because pepper is always good.
Once you’ve done that, transfer the steaks to an oven tray (I use cheap shitty dollar store pizza trays), and stick them in the oven.
Don’t turn off the stove just yet. Instead, pour the steak marinade (you kept that, right?) into the pan. Turn that shit up, we’ll get back to it in a minute.
Yeah, steaks are for baking.
Now it’s the fun part: guessing timings.
How long you leave your steaks in the oven will really be based on a bunch of factors, including how you like your steaks, how your oven works, and how thick your cuts are. There’s not really a secret formula, you just have to learn to feel it out.
Honestly, I fuck it up all the time: over- and under-cooking things. But this is where having a good cut and doing the marinate will pay off, because even if you do screw up the cooking timings, it’ll probably still taste pretty damn good.
When I don’t screw up, I usually end up doing the steaks five minutes, turning them, then five more minutes. Hopefully, that should give something nice and medium rare. Hopefully.
Once that’s done, take the steaks out of the oven, and leave them to rest on the bench for about ten minutes. They’re still cooking during this time, hence resting is important.
While we do that, we’re going to make some jus.
Easy cheating “jus”.
You can do this step properly, if you like. Or you can be like me, and do it this way.
Our beefy skillet should be busy boiling down our marinade. Throw in a whole craptonne of some really sweet red (i.e. port), plus a little more of your marinade port. Plus some more butter if you feel like it. Then some pepper, and a bit of salt.
Now boil the shit outta that stuff. Like, right down. Until all you’ve got is a thick, syrupy black slime in the pan.
Now spoon it over your steaks (taste it first, just in case it’s terrible: it might be, I always fuck this part up).
Serve on a bed of mash potato (whole garlic cloves and chicken stock when you boil the ‘taters; lots of butter, a dash of milk, and a heap of salt and pepper when you mash), with some Artistic Greens (steamed with some more butter, salt, pepper, and maybe a little lemon juice), and voilà!
Serve to some rubes, and impress them with your Mad Cooking Skills.
And that’s how you cook perfect steak, every time.