Homemade is Better—Perfect Steak

It is getting nicer outside as summer approaches, and warm weather means its time to get your grill on! May was the right mix of warm, hot, and fresh, at least for Edmonton it was, but June is finally here.    So, for all you home cooks who don’t have the confidence to cook a great steak, I’m going to give you a few methods to help you prepare that perfect restaurant-quality steak.  But don’t be fooled, you’re going to need to get practice and perfect your style.  And different cuts of meat require different finished cooking temperatures.

Let’s talk about the variety of meats you can grill.  In the beef family, there are strip-loin, sirloins, t-bones, tenderloin, baseball cuts, porterhouse, skirt steak,  flank steak, and even rib-eyes.  Many parts of a steer can be for steak and come in many different grades.  Most of what you might see in the supermarket is grade AA or higher: AAA.  You might also see flashy names like Kobe, Wagyu, and Angus. “How do these all fit into cooking the perfect steak?” you might ask.  Well, some of it does matter, and some of it doesn’t.

The grade of meat from A to AAA or even Prime is what the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has determined what that carcass is, based on the fat marbling in the rib eye.  The carcass also gets a number grade to it, which is the predicted yield of the said carcass.  If you would like more information, visit https://www.beefresearch.ca/research-topic.cfm/carcass-grading-41.

The names like Kobe, Wagyu, or Angus are breed names.  Kobe is a type of Wagyu beef from Japan.  Wagyu is any of the four Japanese breeds of cattle, and Angus is also a breed of cattle.  And while these names have started to become used more, they don’t make much difference in how to choose.  If you want Wagyu beef, and you have a few extra bucks (and I mean a lot of extra dollars), you’d be getting excellent meat.  Angus is also a good grade, and again if you want to pay a little more for it, you’ll get a good steak.  But they are marketing names that sell meat.  You don’t need to buy them if you want a good steak.

Good steak-grilling is about understanding the doneness you desire as it relates to the type of cut you choose.  So, when you go to a steak house, and you read that they will only cook certain steaks to medium-rare, its because that is the best taste you’ll get out of that steak.  If you prefer a well-done steak, you should look for the cuts that are used the least by the animal.  Tenderloin is one of those that could be cooked to well-done and still taste good. The fillet is already tender, so overcooking it won’t make it a piece of shoe leather.  It’s also more expensive, because of where it is in the animal.   Strip-loin should be cooked to medium at most.  The t-bone and porterhouse are the tenderloin and strip loin separated by a t shaped bone, which is part of the vertebrae.  These steaks are both tender and can handle a longer cooking time.  Rib-eyes and sirloins should cook for a shorter time to medium-rare doneness.

So how do you cook a steak to the doneness you want?  There are a couple of tricks they teach you in culinary school or working in a restaurant.  One way is to use the muscle in your hand closest to your thumb and wrist.  Starting with an open hand, when you feel that ball of muscle, that is the feeling of blue rare to uncooked.  Then bringing your first finger and thumb together and poking that muscle you get rare.  The second finger to thumb is medium-rare, the third finger is medium, and the fourth finger is medium-well, a closed fist is well done.  That is one method.  Another method is by looking at the colour of the juices as it cooks.  At the start, your steak releases some clear liquid, and this is blue rare. It will then turn red, which is rare, then clear, red, clear.  Each change approximates doneness.  This method is probably the more intensive one; it relies on you watching your steak.  Which, if you have your favourite beverage in your hand and it’s a beautiful day outside, is an okay way to spend your time.

As I showed before in the burger recipe, your grill lines come from patience.  Once the meat releases itself, turn it 90 degrees to get that diamond shape.  Watch for grill marks, then flip it over and keep going.

The other thing I do is seasoning.  I sometimes use Montreal steak spice, but salt and pepper are also good friends!  Half a tsp of Kosher salt per side is okay and get some pepper on that as well! My Perfect Steak recipe is for a striploin steak; it’s fundamental, and, with practice, you too can make steak the way you want it!

Perfect Steak

Ingredients

4 striploin steaks, cut about 1″ thick

4 tsp Kosher Salt

Ground Black pepper

Directions
  • Make sure your steaks are fresh. If they were frozen, thaw them in the fridge for two days.  Then bring it to room temperature.
  • Heat your grill or oven if you don’t have one. Broil is your oven setting.
  • Salt and pepper both sides of the steak. The salt will pull moisture out, but not enough to make your steak dried out.
  • Cook it on one side, for about 2 minutes. Once the steak releases from the grill without much effort, turn it 90 degrees. Cook for another 1 – 2 minutes.  Flip it and cook for about 2 minutes.  Again, once it lets go on its own, then turn it 90 degrees.
  • Cook it until you’re happy with its doneness. Medium rare should be about the temperature if you follow the directions above.  But thicker steaks will take longer, and thinner steaks will take shorter.
  • Once cooked, cover the steaks with tin foil and rest them a minimum of 5 minutes. The resting allows the juices to relax and remain evenly distributed in the meat giving it its moist texture.
  • Now throw those tongs over your shoulder like a boss and dig in!
  • You can add vegetables if you want, it’s probably a good idea.
  • As a bonus, if there is extra steak left, that means steak and eggs in the morning!
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