A Comprehensive Guide On How To Cook Steak

We’re here to help you perfect the art of cooking steak. Whether you want to cook a perfect rare rump or a dangerously well done fillet, we've got you sorted.
How To Cook Steak
Learn how to cook the perfect steak.

Cooking steak to perfection – and achieving one of those steakhouse-style cooks where it’s crisp on the outside and perfectly juicy on the inside – requires a good deal of skill and knowledge. Whether you're a seasoned home cook or someone who wants to get more confident on the pans, mastering the art of cooking steak is something that’s a worthwhile endeavour. It’s a great skill to have in your back pocket, and it’s deceptively simple, too.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through some step-by-step instructions and valuable tips to help you create a mega steak that will have vegans questioning their life choices. Work your way through this article and you'll be confidently knocking out everything from steak tagliata to charred bavette and sharing steaks in no time. So, let's dive into the world of beef and get the skinny on some of the secrets to achieving a perfectly cooked piece of meat.

Choosing the Right Cut of Steak:

When it comes to cooking steak, selecting the right cut is essential. Some popular options include ribeye, filet mignon, rump, and sirloin. Each cut offers a unique flavour profile and texture. They’ve all different levels of fat which you need to consider but, most importantly, not be afraid of. Fat means flavour. Obviously, you should take all of your personal preferences into account as well as the occasion to determine the perfect cut for your steak. If you’re doing your steak on the barbecue, for example, you’ll want something with more fat than a sirloin.

Preparing the Steak:

Before you begin cooking, there are a few essential steps to follow for optimal results:

a. Thawing: If you’re using frozen steak, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight to ensure even cooking. I know this seems self-explanatory but if we’re calling this a comprehensive guide on how to cook steak then we figured we’d start with the basics.

b. Seasoning: Liberally season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper to enhance the meat’s natural flavours. For added depth, consider using a dry rub or marinade that complements the cut of meat. Something like South African braai seasoning can really help elevate a steak, especially if it’s not of the highest quality and could do with a bit of a helping hand in the flavour department.

Cooking Methods:

There are several cooking methods you can choose from, each resulting in a different flavour and texture. Let's explore a few popular techniques:

a. Pan-Seared Steak: Preheat a cast-iron skillet over high heat, add oil, and sear the steak for a few minutes on each side until a crust forms. Finish cooking in the oven, if desired, and always give it time to rest afterwards.

b. Grilling: Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Place the steak on the grill grates and cook to your desired level of doneness, flipping it once during the process. This method imparts a more smoky flavour.

c. Sous Vide: This method involves vacuum-sealing the steak and cooking it in a water bath at a precise temperature for an extended period. Finish by searing the steak on high heat to achieve a beautiful crust. This is what they’ll do at some fancy restaurants but, in all honesty, there’s no need for you to bother doing this at home. It’s not worth the faff.

Determining Steak Doneness:

The level of doneness greatly influences the taste and tenderness of a steak. Here are some guidelines to help you achieve your preferred doneness:

a. Rare: Cook until the internal temperature reaches 51°C. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can simply touch the steak to check its doneness. Make an OK sign with your first finger and thumb and press the fleshy area below your thumb. That’s what rare should feel like. The centre will be bright red and cool.

b. Medium-Rare: Cook until the internal temperature reaches 57°C. Again: no thermometer, no problem. This time, touch your middle finger to your thumb in order to make that fleshy area below your thumb replicate the feel of a medium rare steak. The centre will be pink and warm.

c. Medium: Cook until the internal temperature reaches 63°C. Touch your ring finger to your thumb for the right feel here. The centre will be slightly pink and hot.

d. Well-Done: Cook until the internal temperature reaches 71°C. Press your pinky to your thumb for this one. The centre will be brown and fully cooked. This is the level of doneness a chef will likely chastise you for ordering. In your own home, though, you can do whatever the hell you like.

Resting and Serving:

Once your steak has reached the desired doneness, it's crucial to let it rest for a few minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a tender and flavourful steak. After resting, slice the steak against the grain for maximum tenderness. Serve with your favorite sides and sauces to complement the flavours. My personal faves are crispy crunchy french fries (NOT those thick steak fries which some joints are obsessed with) and either a punchy peppercorn sauce or a bit of hot English mustard. That being said, a good steak should be able to stand on its own.

Mastering the art of cooking steak requires a bit of practice, patience, and an understanding of the various techniques and cuts. By following the guidelines we’ve thrown up above, you'll be well on your way to sending out a sizzling steak that will impress your family and friends. Remember to experiment with different cuts, seasonings, and cooking methods to find your personal favourite. Don’t just assume you’re a fillet person without trying out some of the beautiful different cuts out there. Happy cooking. And eating.

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