Dry it out, salt it down, oil it up. 3 Tips for BEFORE the steak hits the pan.
We often get asked how to cook a great steak. And almost as often, our answer is long-winded and full of detail.
And that's because we really like cooking steak. But today I want to break it down and make it very simple. You don't have to be a 4 star chef (is that a good number of stars for a chef?) to pull off a very good steak. And sometimes, over-complicating the details just means that the important parts get missed.
Are there some minor details that take a steak from a 9/10 to an 11/10? Sure. But being unfamiliar and missing the big steps can take that same steak and drop it to a 5/10 instead.
So on that note, here are 3 things you can do before even putting the steak on the grill or in the pan to make it the best steak you've ever had.
1. Dry that baby out. Why dry? You can't sear if you're steaming, and if there's water in or on your steak, then you ARE steaming until it's all evaporated. That's just science. So we remove the moisture beforehand, allowing the sear to get started ASAP. Steam vegetables, not steak.
Our steak is aged 21 days so a lot of unnecessary moisture has already evaporated. And yet it still needs drying (I can't imagine how wet a grocery store steak would be). What do I mean by drying?
At the very least you need to take the steak out of it's package and pat it dry with a paper towel before cooking. 'Better' is to do this a few hours before. 'Best' is to pat it dry, then let it sit on a cookie rack in the fridge for a few hours. Salting an hour or two (or more) before cooking helps pull even more surface moisture out.
Speaking of which...
2. Salt that baby down. Salt early, salt generously, and salt well. We like to mix up our steak seasoning, but salt is always the most important part.
Salting early means planning ahead and giving your salt a couple of hours to sink into the steak. Good steak doesn't need to be marinated in liquid, but salting it is important.
Salting generously means putting enough salt on,and doing both sides. It's hard to over-salt...this is because your steak is a thick piece of meat (if you bought it from us it's a good 1.5 inches). When you cut a bite, you want the small sliver of surface salt to be enough to 'season' that entire piece.
Salting well means using a good salt...and there IS a difference. Ideally use a good mined salt or sea salt, but at the very least use a coarse ground kosher salt. The coarse grind lasts longer and doesn't just disappear into wet sludge like an iodized salt will.
3. Oil that baby up. We're not deep frying, so I'm not talking about a puddle of oil. But a small amount of oil is very important in searing a steak. Either brush the steak with oil (particularly if grilling) or put a small amount in a pan. Use a high smoke point oil such as 'light tasting' olive oil, peanut,vegetable, or avocado oil.
The reason you need to use oil is to get an even sear. Without oil, some parts of the steak (whatever is touching the pan or grill bars) will cook faster than the rest of the steak. Even a nice flat steak can have surface inconsistencies, and so you end up with un-seared portions, or burned portions.Oil fills all those gaps, and allows the whole surface to be cooked evenly. You're kind of microscopically deep frying just the surface. Use. Oil.
Give these a try! I hope they help change your next steak experience for the better.
Dry it out. Salt it down. Oil it up.
It's truly super easy to cook a great steak. But it's also just as easy (and I speak from experience) to mess up a great cut of meat. So treat it well!
All the best everyone and talk to you soon.
Willie & Jorie