Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cooking Great Steak

By K.C. Kudra

What makes a good steak depends on whom you talk to, but everywhere you go, someone wants to know how to prepare his or hers perfectly. While that will be a little different for everyone, these tips can really help if you are looking for ways to make a better meal. Here is a look at some of the most basic techniques for making a good steak.

Step one is thinking about the cut of meat you will be using. Good beef that is produced in a humane way is getting more popular for its greater tenderness and flavor. Even traditionally tough cuts of meat from quality producers may be better than the better cuts from a large commercial producer.

The good news is that it is getting a lot easier to find a good steak, so do not be afraid of asking for it. For many people, grass fed and finished beef is tastier and has a stronger flavor, making it preferable. Just remember that beef from these producers is not as reliable or consistent as beef from the big factory farms.

Once you know you have purchased good beef, it is time to pay attention to the heat source. Charcoal grilling remains a great and popular choice, but grill pans on a stove stop, broilers, and other options are still great choices. Use steak cooking charts and high heat to get a piece of beef that is done throughout.

Now, you will need to prepare your steak. Do not brush your grate or pan with oil, lightly oil the steak. That keeps smoke down. Next, season your steak lightly. Just salt and pepper will do it, though there are lots of marinade options out there for those who would like to get a little fancier with their beef.

When the steak goes on the grill or in the pan, the surface needs to be hot enough for the meat to sizzle. The steak should never be turned more than once, since it is important for the meat to cook most of the way on just one side. Do not turn too early, but do not wait too long, either. Turn a rare steak three to four minutes into the process, before you see red juices forming on the upper surface. A medium rare steak should be turned when you first see those juices, and medium well steaks ought to be turned when the juices begin to run together.

The other side of the steak should generally be cooked for about two minutes less than you spent cooking the first side. Of course, the temperature is what really counts. Use an instant read thermometer to find out if your steak is ready to come off the heat.

After you have successfully cooked your meat, it is time to rest the steak. Place it fat side down and standing at ninety degrees to the pan it was cooked in, or to a plate. The pan should be away from the heat source. Propping the steak up keeps the juices in and allows them to redistribute. Steaks should be rested for half the time it took to cook them.

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