There’s nothing quite like a delicious, juicy steak. I’ve got some great tips that I’ve learned over the years that will help you get the PERFECT steak every time.
Many, many, many years ago, I spent a lot of my free time watching cooking shows before they were “in.” Sara Moulton was a favorite – she’s awesome! And there was this show with Tyler Florence called “How to Boil Water” where he would actually go to someone’s home and teach them how to cook! I thought it was the coolest thing and dreamed that one day he would be in my kitchen teaching me. That never quite happened, but he’s made it into my living room on numerous occasions.
One of the best tips I ever remember learning from Tyler was how to check the doneness of a steak by measuring it against your fist. First, make a relaxed fist. The fleshy area of your hand between your thumb and forefinger is soft, which is how a rare steak feels. If you slightly clench your fist, it’s a little firmer like medium doneness. Clench your fist tightly and the area will feel like well-done. You know you want to try it out so make a fist and I’ll wait right here.
Pretty cool right? So that was just one of the tips I’ve learned along the way for getting the perfect steak. Steak is usually one of those decadent meals you get at a restaurant rather than making it at home, but the truth is it couldn’t be easier to make! You just need three main ingredients – steak (I like New York Strip or Rib Eye), salt, and butter. I usually throw in a little pepper and some herbs or aromatics as well.
Here’s how to make the perfect tender, juicy steak:
1. Start with room temperature meat. I know this goes against everything you every learned about meat, but having the meat at room temp brings it closer to the heat of the pan and that’s what you want. You’ll get a much better sear and nice, even cooking.
2. Season, season, season! Salt those bad boys up with a nice sprinkle of kosher salt. I like to a a few turns of fresh cracked pepper, too. I will usually salt them about 10 minutes or so before adding them to the pan.
3. A screaming hot pan. Use a cast iron skillet if you have one, or a stainless will do as well and add some olive oil over a medium-high heat. These heavy bottomed skillets will give you that nice seared crust on the bottom of the steak, which is what you want. You can’t get that with a Teflon pan.
4. Let it sit. Once you put the steak in the skillet, don’t mess with it. This is the same as when you’re cooking on the grill. Let the skillet do it’s job and give that meat a nice crust. Cook the steak for about 4-5 minutes on the first side. When it’s got that beautiful color all through the bottom you’re ready to flip it.
5. Butter, baby! Flip the steaks, turn off the heat and add some butter to the pan. Having a cast iron is really great here because it will stay nice and hot. Let the butter melt and use a spoon to constantly scoop that deliciousness up and baste the meat with it for about a minute. This is going to keep the steak from drying out, and give it that nice, drip down your chin juiciness. This is also a great time to add some fresh herbs and aromatics, like parsley, thyme or rosemary.
6. Finish cooking in the oven. Once you’ve flipped the steaks and given them their butter bath, it’s time to pop those babies in a 275 degree oven. Now, depending on the thickness of the steaks, it will take about 5-7 minutes to get a nice medium-medium rare. Use that little fist trick I shared earlier, or get yourself an in expensive instant-read thermometer like this one. (affiliate link)
7. LET IT REST. I think this is probably the biggest mistake anyone can make when cooking meat – you have got to let it rest! I’ve talked about it before in this chicken recipe, but resting the meat is imperative in getting a tender, juicy steak. Baste the steaks with the butter and juices one more time, then transfer the meat to a cutting board and leave it alone for at least 10-12 minutes. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the steak instead of running all over the cutting board. Once rested, cut that baby up (against the grain, of course!) and serve it up with a spoonful of that delicious sauce straight from the pan.
That’s it! Simple, right? Use these 7 tricks and I guarantee you won’t need to visit a steakhouse again. Serve it up with some baked potatoes and a salad and you’ve got yourself the perfect steakhouse dinner right at home.
- 2 New York Strip Steaks
- Salt & Pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8-10 Thyme sprigs
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Bring the steaks to room temperature by setting out on the counter for about 30 minutes. Season generously with kosher salt and a little fresh cracked pepper.
- Heat the oven to 275 degrees F.
- Heat a heavy bottomed skillet (like cast iron) over medium high heat with the olive oil; 1-2 minutes.
- Place the steaks a couple of inches apart in the hot pan (press down lightly to ensure that all of the meat is touching the pan. Cook steaks for 4-5 minutes, without moving them. Check for a dark golden sear, then flip the steaks over and turn off the heat.
- Add the butter to the skillet, basting the meat with the butter and pan juices with a spoon for about a minute.
- Slide the skillet into the 275 degree oven. Cook for about 5-7 minutes for medium. Temperature should be: Rare - 130°F, Medium Rare - 140°F, Medium - 155°F, Well Done - 165°F. (If you don't have a thermometer, use the fist test described in the post).
- When steaks are finished cooking, baste again with the pan juices, then transfer to a cutting board to rest for at least 10 minutes.
- To serve, slice against the grain and transfer to a plate. Serve with additional pan juices spooned over the top.
For more easy dinner ideas, try these: