The Seven Best Ways to Cook a Steak - ButcheryFresh.com

The Seven Best Ways to Cook a Steak

November 15, 2016

The Seven Best Ways to Cook a Steak

After you’ve spent a pretty penny on premium steaks, the last thing you want to do is make a mistake while cooking them: with great meat comes great responsibility! Even though grilling may be your go-to technique for preparing burgers or steaks (and we don’t blame you; we love to grill!) oftentimes weather, equipment restraints or just a plain ol’ lack of planning can get in the way of firing it up. That’s why we’ve listed the seven best ways to cook a steak.

Important tips for cooking steak using any method of preparation:

  • Allow time to bring meat to room temperature. Remove it from the refrigerator and rest the meat on the countertop for about 30 minutes.
  • Before seasoning, pat meat dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. This will provide a stickier surface on which salt & pepper can adhere and lead to a crispier crust.
  • Season meat liberally. We prefer just salt and pepper, but certain dry rubs are also great for different dishes. Use your imagination or just stick to your guns!
  • Let the meat rest after it’s done cooking. Five to ten minutes usually does it, depending on the size of meat, but resting the meat allows the juices to redistribute so you’re left with an incredibly juicy and flavorful final result.

#1 Basting

Basting is kind of similar to frying, but it’s easier, less of a mess, and in our opinion, it’s better. Note: this method works best for larger cuts of meat like Porterhouse, Tomahawk, and Ribeye.

  1. Bring your steak to room temperature, pat dry with a paper towel, rub all over with about 1 tablespoon of oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.
  3. Add steak to skillet. It should immediately sizzle. Cook each side about 2 minutes, or until a golden crust has appeared.
  4. Add to skillet 2 tablespoons butter, 2 peeled and smashed cloves of garlic, and about 7 sprigs of fresh thyme. Continue to cook steak, flipping about every 4 minutes while basting the less-brown areas of the steak with butter, for about 8-10 more minutes. To baste, just tilt the pan so the butter runs to one side then spoon the hot butter over the top of the meat. If the butter begins to smoke or burn excessively, reduce heat to medium.
  5. For a perfect medium-rare, a meat thermometer should read 120-125 F when inserted in the thickest part; while a medium steak should read 130 F.
  6. Immediately transfer steak from skillet to a meat cutting board, drizzle pan juices over the meat and rest 5-10 minutes, depending on its size.

#2 Oven Finished

Using a hot cast iron skillet is one of our favorite ways to prepare a premium steak, but if you don’t have adequate kitchen ventilation, this method can sometimes get a little smoky. Getting a fast, hot sear on the steak to begin will give it a nice crust, while finishing in the oven prevents your kitchen from turning into a smokehouse.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Bring meat to room temperature, pat dry with a paper towel, rub with 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.This is a good time to go ahead and turn on your hood vent or open some doors and windows.
  4. Add steak to skillet and sear each side for about 4 minutes or until crusty and brown.
  5. Transfer skillet to oven and cook steak until desired doneness is reached, about 8-10 minutes, depending on its size. For medium-rare, a meat thermometer should read 120-125 F when inserted in the thickest part; medium should read between 125-130 F.
  6. Transfer to a cutting board to rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

#3 Reverse Sear Method

This one is a party-pleaser. When faced with a crowd of meat-lovers who happen to love their meat cooked to different specifications, the reverse sear method is a foolproof way to make sure everyone gets theirs the way they like it.

  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.
  2. Bring meat to room temperature, pat dry with a paper towel and season liberally with salt & pepper.
  3. Cover a sheet tray with parchment paper to ensure easy cleanup and transfer steaks to sheet tray. Bake for about 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of the meat. Larger cuts will obviously take longer. For a medium-rare finished product, a meat thermometer should read 120-125 F when inserted in the thickest part; medium should read between 125-130 F.
  4. Remove meat from oven and set aside, allowing it to cool back down to room temperature.
  5. When ready to serve, grill or heat cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking -- don’t be afraid if it’s really hot; the meat is being seared. Re-season meat with a bit of grapeseed oil, and additional salt and pepper.
  6. Sear both sides of the meat until a dark brown crust develops, about 2 minutes per side.
  7. Transfer to a cutting board to rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

#4 Cast Iron-Seared

This method is best for thinner cuts of steak that won’t require a whole lot of cook-time. We’re talking delicious (and often times more affordable) cuts like hanger, flank, flap, and skirt steaks. If you’re working with larger, thicker cuts of meat, searing is a great place to start or finish, but basting or time in the oven will likely be required to get the meat up to temp.  

  • Bring meat to room temperature, pat dry with a paper towel, rub with grapeseed oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.
  • Heat cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. This is a good time to go ahead and turn on your hood vent or open some doors and windows.
  • Add meat to skillet and sear each side 4-6 minutes depending on the size of the meat and desired doneness.
  • Once a dark crust has formed on both sides and desired temperature has been reached, remove meat from skillet and transfer to cutting board. Rest 5 minutes before slicing and/or serving.

#5 Broiler Method

The broiler method can be a tricky one. It’s great if you’re someone who doesn’t yet own a cast-iron skillet or a grill (hey - we all have to start somewhere!) but depending on your oven type (gas or electric) and oven strength (runs hot or not) the cook time and method may vary greatly.  

  1. Bring meat to room temperature, pat dry with a paper towel and season liberally with salt and pepper. Note: depending on how hot your oven runs, it may be best to avoid using oil with this method so as to avoid any fires. However if you do decide to rub the meat with oil be wary of how close to the heating element the meat sits.
  2. Position oven rack at the 2nd highest tier, close to the heating element. Turn the broiler on high and add whatever pan you’re using (sheet tray, cast-iron, or grill pan all work) to the oven to preheat for 15 minutes.
  3. Put seasoned meat on sheet tray and return to oven. Keep the oven door open a crack so as to monitor the meat closely -- you don’t want to turn a blind eye on a steak under the broiler as it can really turn on a dime. As the upward-facing side becomes crispy and crusty, about 4 - 5 minutes, flip the steak over and return to oven until desired level of doneness has been reached, about 4-5 minutes per side is a good place to start. Remember, depending on your oven and the distance of your steak from the heating element, this may take much longer so just have patience!
  4. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the meat: for medium-rare, a meat thermometer should read 120-125 F when inserted in the thickest part; medium should read between 125-130 F.
  5. Once desired level of doneness has been reached, remove pan from oven, transfer meat to a cutting board and rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

#6 Sous Vide

The sous vide method is one that’s perfect for gadget-lovers and dinner party hosts alike. The downside is that you must have a circulator (a “sous vide machine,” if you will) to moderate the temperature of the water, but the upside is that preparing large quantities of meat *perfectly* is a much easier task. Plus, cuts of meat that are typically tougher are given plenty of time to tenderize, which will make you look like an all-star chef.

  • Fill up a pot or tub of water and set the temperature of your circulator to the temperature for which you’d like your meat to be cooked: 120-125 F for rare, 125-130 F for medium rare, and 130-135 F for medium.
  • Meanwhile, bring meat to room temperature and pat dry with a paper towel. Put meat in a vacuum-sealable bag or a ziplock bag (the former is preferred as there is no chance of water leaking in, but either will work) and if desired add any seasoning to bag: garlic, herbs, spices, etc. Once bag is sealed (and all air has been removed from bag) and water bath has come to temp, submerge bag in water and allow it to cook anywhere from 2-6 hours. Tougher cuts of meat like a tri-tip, beef short ribs or beef shanks could go for as long as 12 hours to allow all the connective tissues and proteins to break down, making the meat ultra tender. With premium steaks however, they shouldn’t go for longer than 6.
  • Once the desired duration of cook-time has been met, remove meat from water bath and allow it to come back to room temp, about 30 minutes.
  • If necessary, re-season the meat with salt and pepper before searing.
  • For a dramatic and impressive finish, the meat could be seared with a hand torch. Otherwise, heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Sear both sides of the meat until a crust forms, about 2 minutes per side.
  • Transfer meat to cutting board to rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

#7 Grill

We couldn’t leave out probably the most popular method for preparing a steak, now could we? We prefer using a charcoal-fired grill for grilling meats so we get that nice, smoky flavor, but a gas grill will work great as well. Just make sure you’ve got plenty of either charcoal or propane before you get going!

  1. Bring meat to room temperature, pat dry with a paper towel and season liberally with salt and pepper.
  2. Start your grill and bring it to 450 F. With a charcoal grill, you’ll know the temperature is right if you can put your hand just over the grill grate and hold it there for about 4 seconds. If your grill is closer to 500 - 600 F, you may end up torching it, and by the time the inside gets to the appropriate temperature the outside will be burnt. So allow the coals to simmer down a bit until the temperature feels right.
  3. Typically, premium 1” - 2” steaks take about 8 minutes per side, but don’t be afraid to flip it back and forth a couple times or get out your meat thermometer to check if it’s ready. Note: prior research suggested that flipping the meat too many times would dry it out and make it tougher, however recent studies suggest the opposite. By flipping the meat a couple of times, you are essentially basting it in its own juices. Let us know what you think!
  4. Transfer meat to cutting board to rest 5-10 minutes before serving.




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