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Steak Cooking 101 (home/indoor) by a Pro

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Just thought for my first major subject post I'd talk about something we would do in the fine dinning restaurants I worked in over the years. The number one question I would be asked time and time again is how to cook a proper 5 star dinning experience steak. So I guess I should share it (though I am sure many people know how it is done and has been discussed here, perhaps my take will revive the style).

 

First of all the cut:

Look... there are a lot of cuts from NY Strip, Rib Eye, fillet, and so on. But for all intensive purposes lets go with a standard BONE-IN NY Strip. The same technique can be used for a rib Eye, but consider the thickness and density and adjust accordingly.

 

Cut of Choice: NY Strip BONE-IN, Rib Eye BONE-IN. (With New York Strips make sure it has that line of fat on the opposite side of the bone, some butchers screw up and remove it. THE FAT HAS GLORIOUS FLAVOR! As does the bone.)

 

As a rule of thumb you should always buy your meat from the butcher block when dealing with something like steaks, roasts, and pork chops (even thick sliced bacon and Italian Sausages in some cases). The fresher the beef the better and most grocers and butchers keep their best and most flavorful cuts behind the glass (anything wrapped in saran wrap is usually not as desirable, as fresh, and sometimes are the mistake cuts made by the butcher). Do not purchase steaks from whole-sellers like Costco/Sam's Club and serve that crap to your guests. You pay more (surprisingly) and the quality is not what you're paying for. Check the adds for your local grocers frequently to see the best deal. Around where I live we have places like Vons(Safeway), Ralphs, and Albertsons for example. I have seen choice steak cuts there for as low as 5.99 (6.99 average) a pound and that is insanely cheap where a 4 pack of choice steaks at a whole-seller store is around 30 bucks. Your meat is fresher from the butcher and it is cheaper when on sale. Now this price is in an upscale beach community not close to a freeway in Los Angeles. I have gone into places like Carson and Lawndale (a low income place in the same county) and have seen these cuts as cheap more often or about 50 cents less during special sales. Remember, you can freeze meat only once and butchers are usually awesome people. If you ask them to separate them into two or three sets of 2, 3, or 4 steaks (depending on how many people you usually cook for) they will be glad to do so and you can freeze those other steaks for as long as 3 months. (MAKE SURE YOU DEFROST THEM AND LET THEM GET TO ROOM TEMPERATURE BEFORE COOKING THEM!)

 

So the next question is do I get select, choice, or prime. Now... Ill be damn honest with you lot. Yes, prime is the best quality cut and the most tender. But I have fooled other friends/chefs (at restaurants like The Palm for example) to thinking the meat is prime by cooking choice cuts rather well. Anyone can buy a prime cut of meat and butcher it so why spend 9.99 to 19.99 a pound when you don't have to do so. Trust me, especially for home chefs, go with choice cuts (if you're a Vons shopper I think they call it "Signature" which is the same thing, and other US stores are starting to have their own titles for cuts, but they are almost always Choice) and practice your technique first. In most cases if you kick ass at cooking a choice cut to the near quality of a prime cut you save money and enjoy good cooking all the time. Select cuts I use for stews and sometimes I will ground select flap meat into ground beef. I do prefer choice ground beef for burgers though and use select in things like my lasagna and Mongolian goulash, but I want to help you save every penny you can. Buy a meat grinder too, it helps save money in the long run if you have a butcher that deals in flap meat and some of the lower grade cuts.

 

For future posts I don't like to do exact measurements. I know this sounds silly but if you measure everything you do every time you cook you will take FOREVER!!! What you should do is start with a strong guide and adjust to your preferences. I am sharing with you what I did when I worked in restaurants for speed and quality.

 

Ingredients for serving 4:

- Four 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick CHOICE NY Strip steaks (bone in) (defrosted if you had frozen them and have them at room temperature.)

-Safflower Oil* (about 1 tablespoon per steak)

-Sea Salt (with or without iodine is fine) and pepper (preferable fresh ground black peppercorns)

-A light sprinkle of dried or fresh oregano* (OPTIONAL)

-Four Knobs of butter (for four steaks we're talking a quarter stick) to finish.

 

 

Direction:

1. With a large grill pan or large frying pan (some saute pans work too) you want to put 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan and coat it. Get that pan nice and hot by setting your burner to maximum. (FEEL THE HEAT!).

2. Season the steak you plan to put in first for searing. I would crank the salt grinder 10 to 12 times (with a salt grinder on the finest setting) and pepper always half as much as I do the salt (so 5 to 6). Add a sprinkle of dried or fresh oregano.

3. When the pan has a small bit of white smoke coming off of it put the steak season side down and sear for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. While the steak is searing season the unseasoned side the same way you did the bottom.

4. Flip steak over with tongs and sear for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes again. DO NOT FIDDLE OR PRESS DOWN ON THE STEAK. Let the damn thing cook. Messing with it can effect the finished product.

5. Now take the steak and hold it on the side with the strip of fat and let that fat cook for a good 45 seconds to a minute. You'll have to hold it with your tongs so be careful not to drop the damn thing as you could spatter hellfire hot grease onto yourself, your loved ones, or your pets. Once done place the steak on a rack or butcher paper to rest for at least 30 minutes to no more than an hour.

(Resting is optional but highly advised. Some of us have other crap we have to do, so waiting 30 minutes is a pain. But in the same respect letting the steaks rest gives you time to make your sides and other stuff, so it is heavily advised.)

 

(Repeat steps 1-6 for each steak you plan on cooking). DO NOT CLEAN THE SEARING PAN! WE NEED IT LATER!

 

6. While steaks rest set oven to 420 degrees of fiery death!!!! :D

7. Take a baking tray and line it with tin foil.

8. Set steaks on baking tray and place in the oven. For rare 8 minutes, for medium rare 9-10 minutes, for medium 11 to 12 minutes. I would HIGHLY advise to never cook steaks medium well or well done. I have walked out from the kitchen in restaurants I have worked in and literally refused to serve well done steaks (at 60 dollars a pop mind you) to some moron who doesn't want it chewy and mostly gets their steaks from Black Angus or Denny's... I do shame them in front of other customers too. b^^ But keep in mind I stand behind my work and if the food is not to their satisfaction I eat my words and cook it the way they want it. Never happened, EVER! (though one time I did butterfly a fillet to ensure someones obtuse concern). If you want a well done steak have some roast beef from the Home Town Buffet. But not in a fine dinning restaurant.

 

9. Remove steaks from oven and let them rest on the plates you plan to serve them on for about 5 minutes.

10. During this time take the butter you have been holding onto for "oh so long" and place it on the frying pan you used earlier to sear the steaks. Melt the butter down with the juices from steak that are in the pan and then pour the butter sauce atop each steak when in melts. You can do this while the steaks are resting on their plates after you serve up your sides onto the plate itself. You don't have to watch the butter so much as long as the heat is on medium/medium low. Then turn the heat back up when you can pay attention to the butter so you don't burn it.

 

Serve and enjoy. If a hot lady is with you, she will "love you long time".

 

I know there is nothing overly original about this style of steak making, but it is tried and true for over 60 years all over the world. So why mess up a good thing with seasoning salts and other crap that good cuts of meat don't need.

 

*Don't use olive oil. It has a distinctive taste to it and the steak should speak for itself. If you do as I said above you won't need that extra flavor and olive oil works best with Fillet of Beef cuts (pretty much because fillet has no fat on it so it needs some add-ons to accent it's initial flavor). But NY Strips and Rib Eyes do not need this taste and I have found 90% of the time it lowers the quality of the dish. Safflower or even Sunflower oil are the better oils to use in the case of these standard cuts of steak.

 

*This is one of the few times I say dried oregano is better. Why you ask? Because dried oregano is a bit more potent and in turn you can use less of it and it is also less prep. Simple as that really. But if you want to be Captain "Suave" in the kitchen you can go ahead and prep fresh oregano till your head explodes for all I care. b^^

 

The butter sauce is HIGHLY advised but not necessary. (DO NOT USE MARGARINE or BUTTER SUBSTITUTES because you can get poppy and spattery results if you do). You should use standard salted butter. US or European style, it does not matter, though European style butter has more fat than water content per tablespoon so in turn more flavorful. My preference is usually European style, but either works.

 

TIP: Want the grill marks? Use a grill pan or sear your steaks on a BBQ and finish them in the oven. Ironically many restaurants con their customers by saying they BBQ it or cook it over an open fire. Well, they sear it over an open fire or on a grill. But to ensure perfection every time they end up finishing the cooking in an oven. Nothing wrong with that, but it gives you something to think about when you go to a steakhouse. b^^

 

There are other techniques used to cook these exact same steaks and perhaps I'll show another common technique that is simple enough. But I prefer this method because all the food gets done at the same time. Unless you have some godly frying pan the size of a sumo wrestlers left ass cheek you cannot always cook 4 steaks (or more) at once and have a meal for 4 people ready all at once. So this method is general use for simplicity and the ability for you to prepare other things for dinner without having to keep a birds eye on the meat you are cooking.

 

Thanks for reading. And remember, when it comes to good beef, always trust TheBEEF!!!

post #2 of 11
I skimmed through this and am glad Ibread this part:
"But if you want to be Captain "Suave" in the kitchen you can go ahead and prep fresh oregano till your head explodes for all I care. b^^

Made my day thanks. I have three herb gardens. Pop! there goes my brain.
post #3 of 11

There posts are not so much discussions as they are How-To articles and I would suggest posting them as articles. 

Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
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Bacon (I made)
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
post #4 of 11

 
You mention frozen steaks, I know of no high end steak house that uses frozen. If you are talking Outback they are frozen and tenderized using papain. You mention the Palm well I know Bruce the owner and know for a fact he breeds his own cattle.  There are 3 major meat suppliers in the US  today IBP which is owned by Tyson, Smithfield, and another that I can't remember name. It starts with a C or a K.

          Much of our meat is imported from all over the world and in fact the USDA changed its specs about 2 years ago re. grades. Todays Prime was yesterdays Choice grade. The junk you get in the supermarket is a far cry from Restaurant quality.  Steaks  today come precut and believe it or not cut by lasers. Good butchers today are scarce. Years ago we broke down our own hindquarters and fore quarters they produced a better steak ,we aged them also. Cooking , the hotter the broiler the better then finish them on the cool side just a little salt and pepper., and a pat of butter on top after plating. That's it fast and simple. You tested if they were done by pressing on them with your finger.

Today it's a whole different ballgame

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #5 of 11

I use frozen beef and have had guests tell me my steaks are the best they have ever had. Key is the beef I buy is grass fed then finished for a month on grains and grass. Fully thaw and let it come to room temp is key. Pat dry, season one side, into a screaming hot pan with a little oil. Leave it there until it moves when I shake the pan. Season the other side and flip, sear again then turn the heat down about halfway through searing and let it get to the level I prefer(basically raw in the middle, body temp). Alternative is I cook them under the broiler, basic same technique except let the first side get a really good sear it will be the presentation side.

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

@chefedb I never said those places freeze there meat at any point. It was a suggestion for home cooking. You can freeze steaks and if you defrost them properly they taste fine. b^^ Some people have developed stigmas about frozen meat, so home cooks sometimes feel they cant buy their meat all at once and freeze it in sections. I know the purchasing practices of The Palm, 555, and Lawry's and so on and I understand how places like Harris Ranch deal and train people to test meat. But don't call me out on something I clearly did not say or suggest. Yes, I mentioned the Palm, their meat is some of the best. b^^ What I DID say was that I have had people eat CHOICE cuts of meat and they thought it was PRIME. This is a common thing that happens because sometimes if you do a good job preparing your steaks, sometimes you can easily overlook the quality depending on your method of cooking.

 

ADD: There are famous testing gatherings of people showing off their meat qualities who have a hard time telling between Choice and Prime if the chef has the freedom of how the meat is prepared. If you do nothing to the steak except cook it in a frying pan with no seasonings or bake it without seasonings I'm sure it is MUCH MORE OBVIOUS what quality you're eating. And again, this is more for casual cooking. Most people cannot buy the steaks that restaurants get, so giving advice about that is trivial and pointless of what the posts intent was. Again, like the post title says "Home/Indoor" 101 on cooking steaks. If people I knew, everyday Joe's, could afford the exclusive restaurant cuts then I'd push them that direction. But 90% of the population (and I am being generous with that estimate) only know of Select, Choice, and Prime, period. Though you can get nicer cuts from places like Harris Ranch, which is out in the buttcrack middle of nowhere, and the only time I bring a lot of meat from them back with me is when I visit my brother who lives 30 minutes from them. Again, this was more of a guide for even the most incapable of home cooks. Simple ingredients, simple steps, and only what most people need to know. :)

 

@MaryB Yeah, there are lots of methods and none of them are really wrong. When I help friends shop for meat at their local grocery stores sometimes the grass fed are around 9.99 a pound as oppose to 6.99. So I try to do what is best for their pocket books. b^^

 

@Nicko No worries, if I do any more Ill make sure to put them in there. Unless you want me to cut and paste them there. Perhaps I should put them in articles or how-to? b^^

 

@chefboyOG I am so glad I made your day. Nothing wrong with herb gardens. I too have some herb gardens as well, but if you have no cooking prowess some people find dry herbs to be easier to work with and I have had a few bozo friends of mine think they are hot crap in the kitchen because they feel 100% pro because they use fresh herbs.... EVERYTHING FRESH DAMN YOU!!! EVERYTHING!!!!!! MAKES ME AMAZING!!!!! they would go on and then I would point out to them on their little indoor oregano plant "Dude, you have new neighbors that moved in, see, look close, parasites!" and then they would get mad because they didn't notice them little bugs. XD (only happened twice but I give them both hard times for their failure).


Edited by TheBeef - 11/28/14 at 3:20am
post #7 of 11

My grass fed was $3 pound cut wrapped and delivered to my front door frozen, Local farmer who sells direct, they use a local small butcher with a spotless shop. I asked the butcher if he would eat his hamburger rare and he grabbed a piece raw off the grinder and ate it. Good meat processed right then frozen can be very very good. With a 50 mile round trip for groceries I do my buying in bulk, and with beef and pork I buy once a year, 1/4 of beef, 1/2 a hog. Buy chickens 10 at a time from the farm too. All small local farm to table sellers.

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

@MaryB That sounds like a good deal! I have to look into that sometime to see if they do that in my area. :D

post #9 of 11

Thank you for the specifics of finishing steaks in the oven.  I've seen professionals do it many times on cooking shows but have never tried it.  That will change.  I'm new to this site and very happy to be here.
 

Lily

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

@Lilygardener You are quite welcome. I hope you enjoy it and remember, if it doesn't taste quite right the first time, try fiddling with it a little (more seasoning or more/less time in the oven) till you get it the way you like it. If you have any questions, madamuaselle, just float me a message and I'll answer it as best as I can. b^^

post #11 of 11

Thanks!  

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