Rest assured, if you gather 100 chefs and ask them how to prepare a steak, you will get 100 different recipes. That being said, this is my philosophy and method of preparation when it comes to preparing and presenting my favorite food of all time: steak.
We begin with the cut of meat. Everyone knows the classics; filet mignon, ribeye, prime rib, New York strip, Porterhouse and T-bone steaks.
One defining characteristic all of these cuts have in common is their gentle usage. The less the animal stretched those muscles in life, the more tender they will be after butchering.
This brings me to my next point: marbling, which is the formation of fat inside the muscle — not the bits of chewy fat found on the edges of the steak. Before you cook a steak you should see little pockets of fat throughout the red flesh with the appearance of marble — hence the name. Just know that the more marbling, the juicier and more tender the finished product will be.
Next comes the seasoning, the most important aspect of cooking a steak. Seasoning can raise steak to rock star status on cloud nine or send it crashing and burning, comparable to a culinary version of the Titanic or The Hindenburg blimp.
All you need is salt and pepper. I like using coarse salt or sea salt for the crust-like texture it gives the seared flesh. Do away with the special steak seasonings, steak sauces, hollandaise and ketchup; they will just mask the natural flavors of the beef. I am going to go ahead and say this about steak and ketchup: Anyone who eats steak with ketchup should be locked up for steak abuse and anyone who allows it should be tried as an accomplice — but I digress.
When it comes to cooking a steak, depending on how you like it you will just need a sauté pan or grill for searing the meat and an oven to finish it off; if you like your steak rare to raw in the middle you will not need an oven.
You want to let the cooking surface get to be smoking hot before putting the steak on. If you don’t hear a sizzle, there won’t be a sear. If you are grilling, cranking the heat up is key to getting nice grill marks. Once you have a pleasant sear on the steak, it’s ready for the oven.
I recommend getting an oven-safe sauté pan to make the stove-to-oven transition as easy as possible. Have your oven pre-heated to about 400 degrees before you throw the steak in. Depending on the thickness of your steak, the cook time will vary, so keep an eye on the steak.
After your steak is cooked to your liking, place it on the cutting board and wait about four or five minutes to allow the juices to rest. If you have ever had a steak bleed all over your plate it is because it was not rested properly.
Now all that is left to do is bring the steak to the table and dive in fork first.