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My Perfect Steak

By dscottj in Technology
Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 08:28:34 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

I'm not sure, I guess it comes from having a dad who could do amazing things with meat, fire, and spices, but I've always considered the ability to cook a steak a hallmark of being a "true guy". Being able to create something edible from a raw hunk of meat speaks to the caveman deep inside me.

I know there must be a million different ways to do this, and I'm sure you guys (and gals) all have different ones, but in the interest of helping other folks out there who want to cook a good steak, here's mine:

Note: Vegetarians or Vegans should just not click through... it gets pretty graphic in there. :)

The Perfect UnGrilled Steak Me-style:
What you need:
  • Steak. Well, duh. It's surprisingly hard sometimes to find a good cut. We've settled on sirloin fillets, but New York strips are just as nice. If you can't find a good place to buy meat, there are always mail order places. Regardless, try to find something that isn't super-expensive, because if you're anything like me you'll probably mess it up a few times before you get it just right.
  • A 12" Lodge cast iron skillet. Well, OK, it doesn't have to be a Lodge, but they're the last remaining foundry in the US doing this sort of thing, so why not? At less than $30, it's the first, best, most useful "new" pan in my collection. Cast iron is pretty much required because it's just about the only thing with both the mass and the conductivity to really hold heat when confronted with cold meat.
  • An oven
  • A cookie sheet or other flat metal thing you can stick inside said oven. The skillet will do (very little hurts a cast iron skillet, trust me on this), but I haven't actually tried it that way yet.
  • Kosher salt (it'll be where the sugar and stuff is). Kosher salt is flaked rather than grained, which makes it easier to work with. It also sticks to the food a lot better.
  • A full pepper grinder
  • A baking rack. Failing this, get some chopsticks or skewers and place them across a dinner plate.
  • Kitchen tongs
  • A splatter guard (optional, but it helps keep the stove clean over time... looks like a monstrous metal flyswatter)

How I do it:

  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Farenheit (~150 C) and leave it there for at least 20 minutes
  • While this is happening, take your steak out of the fridge (or fully thaw it, or better yet just pull it out of the grocery sack), unpack it, pat it dry, and leave it sitting on a plate for 30 minutes. This gets the meat closer to room temperature, which makes for a better sear.
  • After it's done sitting, get a heavy pinch of kosher salt (about 1/2 tablespoon) and sprinkle it on one side of the meat. Take your pepper grinder and grind out just enough pepper to completely dust the side (about 1/4 tablespoon).
  • With your hands, rub the salt and pepper into the meat until it disappears. Really rub!
  • Flip the steak over, repeat. Do it to all the slabs you have.
  • Leave the steak sitting for 5 minutes. This pulls some of the juices to the surface and again makes for a better sear.
  • Place the skillet on the large BACK burner (to better control the smoke) and pre-heat it on high for about 2 minutes, or until it just begins to smoke. It's more important that the pan is just starting to smoke than it is for 2 minutes to come or go.
  • Take the steak(s) one at a time and lay them down on the skillet gently. Do not move them after they hit the pan. This interferes with searing. Be sure to place them in such a way you'll have room for all of them.
  • Leave them alone. Do not press, cut or otherwise squeeze them for two minutes. Dinking with them at this point just pushes out the juices.
  • Flip the steaks, and again leave them alone for two minutes
  • Remove the steaks from the skillet, place them on the cookie sheet, and stick them in the oven for 5 minutes.
  • At the end of 5 minutes comes the tricky part. At this point you probably still have very rare, but nicely seared, steaks. What you have to do is judge the done-ness without cutting the meat. If you cut it, the juices will all go out and you'll end up with shoe leather no matter what you do. You judge it by how firm it is. How firm is firm? After years of watching Iron Chef, I managed to get one, and one thing only, out of it (other than the fact that the Japanese eat the weirdest stuff), a guide to steak done-ness:

    • If the steak is as firm as the side of your cheek, it's rare
    • If it's as firm as the side of your nose, it's medium
    • If it's as firm as the tip of your nose, it's well done
    • If it looks like a roof shingle, it's ready for my mother or my sister-in-law

    (well, ok, I made that last bit up, but you get the picture). Anyway, you'll probably need to put it back in for 3-10 minutes more. I keep pulling mine out and checking every two minutes or so. This is why you leave the oven on for so long before you start... all this opening and closing makes it lose a lot of heat, and by letting it sit the walls get hot enough to help retain said heat.

  • Once you think they're done, remove them from the oven and place them on your rack (real or created) for 5 minutes. This lets the meat settle and finish, and really improves the flavor.
  • Get out the sauces and serve!

Again, this is how I do it. There are probably some grill aficionados out there somewhere spitting beer over how I do it. If ya gots a better way, please put it in by commenting below. Also, if you have any neat rubs or spices you think would work well be sure to let me know about them too. I'm always up for new ideas!


P.S. If you go out and get a new cast iron skillet to do this, be sure to carefully and completely follow the instructions for seasoning it first.


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How do you like your steak?
o Not quite mooing 9%
o purple on the inside 8%
o medium rare 32%
o medium 26%
o well done 9%
o shoe leather 2%
o roof shingle 0%
o In a meadow contemplating essentail cow-ness. I don't eat meat. 11%

Votes: 133
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o mail order places
o Lodge
o Also by dscottj

Display: Sort:
My Perfect Steak | 130 comments (103 topical, 27 editorial, 0 hidden)
This sounds like the way the make them at Ruth's. (5.00 / 1) (#2)
by graal on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 03:00:06 PM EST

Cooking a steak someplace other than a grill sounds just plain wrong, but you've made me want to give it a shot. Besides...what the hell do you do in the middle of winter? Broil?. Better to eat it raw.

For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)

You can't get a grill hot enough (5.00 / 1) (#10)
by Railroader on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 03:20:41 PM EST

to really sear a steak. A cast iron pan heated on the stove till it's smoking is better. Equally as good is a cast iron grilling pan on top of the grill. It's the conductivity of the cast iron that does the trick.

[ Parent ]
Depends on the cut (5.00 / 1) (#45)
by /dev/niall on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 06:01:48 PM EST

A cut with a higher fat content (like rib eye) slathered in olive oil will actually sear quite well on a grill.
"compared to the other apes, my genitals are gigantic" -- TheophileEscargot
[ Parent ]
Ahh, but... (none / 0) (#91)
by pingflood on Sun Oct 20, 2002 at 04:59:52 PM EST

...if your grill has cast iron cooking grids, you can. :-)

I have a Sam's Club bought grill (Bakers and Chefs) that's basically a budget version of the Grand Hall Grand Cafe 3000.  It's got *heavy* cast iron grids, and 48,000 BTU worth of burners.  I can guarantee you it sears quite nicely.

Sell fitness equipment, make bucks. Cool affiliate program.
[ Parent ]

Depends on the grill (3.00 / 2) (#103)
by sobiloff on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 02:52:03 AM EST

Higher-end grills will get hot enough to nicely sear (and cook) steaks. It's better if you can use natural gas, as it burns hotter than propane, but I've had very good experiences with my propane DCS grill. I still pre-heat for 20 minutes, but that's mainly so that the ceramic vaporizers come up to temperature.

[ Parent ]
some kind of wuss I see (4.00 / 1) (#75)
by tarsand on Sat Oct 19, 2002 at 12:20:14 AM EST

I'll not comment on calling a barbeque a grill, but beyond that niggling point - who doesn't barbeque in the winter? I live in FAR north of Canada and happily fire up the flame pit when it's -40 or -50 C and cook supper.

"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
Winters here are a little on the rainy side. (nt) (none / 0) (#93)
by graal on Mon Oct 21, 2002 at 10:32:10 AM EST

For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)
[ Parent ]

This sounds like the way the make them at Ruth's. (none / 0) (#109)
by TaoJones on Wed Oct 23, 2002 at 12:58:31 AM EST

Cooking a steak someplace other than a grill sounds just plain wrong,

Amen to that.

but you've made me want to give it a shot.

Nooooo! Bad carnivour. Even the "Formanizer" (the George Forman grill) is no substitute for real fire.

Besides...what the hell do you do in the middle of winter? Broil?.

Drink a beer, wipe the snow off the grill, and fire it up. Wait for the coals to get just right (drink another beer), and slap the meat on. Quickly drink another beer and flip. Chug one more beer and you're done.

Better to eat it raw.

Nope, marinade the meat overnight in salt (sea or kosher), garlic, assorted spices and beer. Cook it over a real fire. Taste wise I can can beat anything you can do with "electric cooking" with fire without breaking a sweat.


"It could be said that Martha and Isaac had chemistry, but Martha had never been good at chemistry, and sex with Isaac had been like an experiment wherein she had accidentally mixed ammonia and bleach, burned her eyebrows off, lost all sense of smell for weeks, and never saw the family cat again."

Patrick Burns

[ Parent ]

not spitting my beer (4.33 / 3) (#4)
by sasquatchan on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 03:05:44 PM EST

but red meat and fire are just meant for one another. If it was good enough for the caveman, then doggone it's good enough for me.

Simple/easy way to grill steak would be soak it in a light coating of worchestershire sauce. Keeps it nice and tender. An hour or so will do. And unless you grill it until it is a shingle, you can't do it wrong. Coarse grind pepper is always a plus during the soaking and grilling.

That being said, I really dislike seared steak. Seared tuna, yummy. Seared red meat, no.

Sauces ? Like searing, I strongly dislike sauces on my cooked steak. A1 and all that crap has got to go.
-- The internet is not here for your personal therapy.

For those not blessed with fire (none / 0) (#5)
by dscottj on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 03:08:05 PM EST

Meant for the apartment crowd, folks who just can't get at a grill. The marinade thing sounds pretty interesting, but doesn't it partially cook the meat (or is that the point)?

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

No excuses! (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by ScuzzMonkey on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 05:53:20 PM EST

Buy a hibachi. Open a window. Remove the drapes.

Fire Good.

No relation to Happy Monkey (User #5786)
[ Parent ]

Fire Department = bad! [n/t] (5.00 / 1) (#59)
by dscottj on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 07:36:53 PM EST

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

Electric Grill=Good! (none / 0) (#98)
by wiredog on Mon Oct 21, 2002 at 02:35:46 PM EST

The best I've seen was at JC Penney. Has the element below the rack, rather than integral with it.

Earth first! We can strip mine the rest later.
[ Parent ]
Other fun caveman activities (5.00 / 1) (#92)
by The Archpadre on Sun Oct 20, 2002 at 05:01:46 PM EST

  • Being eaten by wolves.
  • Being eaten by lions.
  • Being eaten by hyenas.
  • Being illiterate.
  • Having to spend most of your time hunting down your meals.
[Okay, so I prefer my meat grilled too. Still . . . .]
Where did my waffles go?

[ Parent ]
A few feature suggestions (2.00 / 10) (#15)
by ubu on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 03:41:52 PM EST

One, we need to add a "Culinary" section, as it seems that "Technology and Culture, from the trenches" has grown to include innumerable recipes and similar shit for the terminally bored.

Two, we need a feature whereby the user is allowed to specify "Ignore" on particular sections and never, ever, ever see this kind of shit either on his Front Page or in his submission queue again.


As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
As opposed to wild otter cams? [n/t] (5.00 / 1) (#16)
by dscottj on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 03:44:45 PM EST

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

I apologize (1.00 / 4) (#17)
by ubu on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 03:53:57 PM EST

I didn't realize your story was a parody protest. Welcome to the cause, brother. Let's keep posting pure shit stories, both of us, until somebody in Maine wakes up and starts writing some goddamned K5 features in again.

In fact, I'm going to go way out on a limb here and say that the ability to ignore pure shit in the story database is more important than a working goddamned search engine, at this point. Maybe now that the big social event of the year in Boston is over, there'll be time for actual code or something.


As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Not "shit" (5.00 / 3) (#26)
by kphrak on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 04:40:40 PM EST

Yes, we do need a culinary section. We need a music section...why not a food section?

No, the story is not "shit". It contains information that could be useful. It provokes discussion, mostly in the form of other people providing their input on his method. And it would fall under the "Culture" section; one of the first introductions to any culture is through its food, so this is not off-topic. You may not like it, and you can go ahead and say so, but calling it shit is inaccurate and does it a disservice...as well as making you look like an idiot. A reason why it's more pointless than all the other articles we've voted in, and a provided alternative, would also help your comment's credibility.

Anyway, what would you want on here? Indymedia's press releases? "wacko talk" (in the queue unless it's been voted down by now)? Somebody's diary? A dump of a kernel compile? If you don't like what's on, don't bitch; post!


Describe yourself in your sig!
American computer programmer, living in Portland, OR.

[ Parent ]
Hm (none / 0) (#39)
by ubu on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 05:32:15 PM EST

I'd settle for technology and culture, from the trenches.


As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Please clear something up. (none / 0) (#76)
by Josh A on Sat Oct 19, 2002 at 12:47:54 AM EST

I think kphrak explained quite well that food is an integral part of culture. So are you saying that this article is not cultural, or that it doesn't come from the trenches?

Thank God for Canada, if only because they annoy the Republicans so much. – Blarney

[ Parent ]
Look... (4.16 / 12) (#20)
by trhurler on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 04:02:06 PM EST

The idea of preparing steak via means not involving an open flame is evil. You need to understand this.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

But... (none / 0) (#21)
by dscottj on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 04:09:10 PM EST

Does a gas stove count? What about those of us not blessed with balconies, driveways, or yards? I tried placing my grill out the window, but the police said the next time it might not be a car I end up crushing fifteen floors below. :)

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

Only if... (none / 0) (#29)
by Rocky on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 04:47:44 PM EST

...you put it directly on the burner (pans are for wussies).

Oh yeah.  Make sure you shut the windows, and BREATHE IN!  Can't let any of that burnt flesh go to waste, even if it's in gaseous form...

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
- Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
[ Parent ]

Dammit (3.00 / 2) (#43)
by trhurler on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 06:01:30 PM EST

If your steaks don't have proper charring and crunchiness to their outsides, then the terrorists have already won! Fight back against high rise apartment building oppression! (Or just find a good steakhouse. That would work.)

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Mmmmm, Montreal steak spice (2.00 / 1) (#22)
by hatshepsut on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 04:09:33 PM EST

Consists mostly of salt and pepper, but there's some other good stuff in there too (you can make it yourself with the ingredients list...I am too lazy and buy the stuff - in bulk when I can find it).

That said, I don't think it would work when you are FRYING your steak. Works great on the barbeque though!


Not frying (none / 0) (#53)
by dscottj on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 06:26:27 PM EST

It's searing, not frying. To fry, you need oil. I think. But what the hell do I know. Three months ago I thought the only thing a pan needed to be good was teflon. :)

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

Montreal steak spice (none / 0) (#68)
by psyconaut on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 09:50:00 PM EST

I agree.....it's yummy stuff....and definitely seems to add more than just kosher salt and pepper. Used it just on Tuesday myself. :-)


[ Parent ]

Steak marinades (3.80 / 5) (#23)
by IHCOYC on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 04:19:00 PM EST

When I cook steaks, I usually cook them over charcoal, largely because I can.

I would share the discovery that bourbon whiskey makes an excellent base for a steak marinade. I call it "steak Manhattan" because the base is a Manhattan of sorts: two parts bourbon (it's OK to use the cheap stuff for this) and one part dry vermouth. (Sweet vermouth will not work here; it has spices that tend to clash with the spices we'll be adding. If you don't use dry vermouth, use another wine.)

To the basic Manhattan mixture, I add, in varying proportions:

     Minced garlic;
     Soy sauce;
     Pulped ginger root;
     Tabasco or similar red pepper sauce;
     Cracked black pepper;
     Chili powder;

or any other such spices you think you'd like in this. I marinate the steaks in this for at least four hours, better than that is half a day. Thickness makes a difference too.

While I assume no liability, I will tell you that I regularly refrigerate the leftover marinade and reuse it. It's mostly bourbon. I doubt anything bad can get in it.

GraySkull is home to the anima, the all-knowing woman who gives power to the otherwise ineffectual man. -- Jeff Coleman

Using a club. (3.80 / 5) (#25)
by Sleepy on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 04:38:37 PM EST

Personally, I use a steak club to prepare my steaks(I have a wooden one, but this isn't at all a good idea. Get a plastic one.). It's one of those hammer-shaped things with large spikes on them. Before doing anything else with the meat, I give it good poundig on both sides with the club. This makes the meat incredibly tender, and I've found that it also makes it damn near impossible to really go wrong. The result is almost always a very good one. (And besides, pounding your meat with a club is a very satisfying thing to do :)

Anyway, this was a good story. +1 FP from me.

You've been sigged! (5.00 / 1) (#63)
by Bridge Troll on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 08:39:12 PM EST

Thanks for the wonderful quote.

And besides, pounding your meat with a club is a very satisfying thing to do :) -- Sleepy
[ Parent ]
I've Just Recently Perfected my Technique... (3.66 / 3) (#34)
by mberteig on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 04:59:38 PM EST

And it's a little simpler.

  1. Steak should be about 3/4 inches thick - thinner and the seasoning doesn't get cooked long enough, thicker and its hard to get it cooked in the middle (okay if you like it really bloody).
  2. Prepare steak similar to above except no salt and LOTS of ground black pepper. I put enough ground pepper on that it the surface retains only a slight pink appearance otherwise it is dark grey. I do one side on the preparation plate and then the other side once it has started to cook.
  3. Prepare cast iron frying pan as above except with a small amount of cooking oil (maybe a tablespoon) and just a smidge less than the highest heat setting.
  4. Plop the steak on to the frying pan with the pepper side down. Cover the other side with the same amount of pepper. Leave it on that side about 3 to 5 minutes depending on thickness and desired cookedness. This might vary a little, but the idea is to leave it on long enough to cook the pepper so the bite of its flavor is removed. When you flip it over it should be very dark and crunchy on the cooked side but not actually burnt. While the pepper is cooking, it will emit a very strong smelling smoke - having the stove's vent turned on is a good idea.
  5. Cook the second side similarly.
  6. Eat and enjoy.

Agile Advice - How and Why to Work Agile
Interesting, but (none / 0) (#52)
by dscottj on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 06:23:24 PM EST

Oil = pan frying, instead of searing, no? Still, an interesting variation!

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

searing vs frying (none / 0) (#107)
by foog on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 02:40:23 PM EST

if the steak is well-marbled, it will fry in its own fat, whether you add oil or not.

this is ok, the "searing to lock in juices" thing is a myth.  


[ Parent ]

thickness variation (none / 0) (#81)
by mikelist on Sat Oct 19, 2002 at 09:18:10 AM EST

I happen to like steak, no matter the degree of doneness, so I like a steak to be about 1 to 1-1/2 inches, cooked without condiments on an extremely hot grill. This way I get well, medium, and rare in one cut of meat. As soon as it starts to have a dried out appearance, it's done. The thickness of the steak allows the center to remain rare while the outside has the texture and bite of well done. A really good steak can almost be cut with a fork no matter what doneness.
A steak prepared this way should be seasoned any way you want, from salt and pepper to catsup (it's your steak and you don't need someone telling you what to eat, do you?).

[ Parent ]
Restaurants (none / 0) (#36)
by El Volio on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 05:00:35 PM EST

Whenever I go out for steak (mmm... Saltgrass...), I always end up ordering it medium even though I want it medium rare. Most places seem to serve it a notch rarer than what's ordered, so if I get it medium rare, it's still a bit too pink for me.

That's still better than my wife's roof shingle, I guess.

Restaurants tend to overcook (5.00 / 2) (#38)
by nosilA on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 05:18:13 PM EST

Most restaurants overcook due to liability, however a good steak restaurant, who takes great care in handling and preparing the meat will cook it to a "true" medium rare, which is supposed to be pink throughout (but no red, unlike rare).  

So this could be spun to say that good restaurants undercook, but a true steak fan will say that bad restaurants overcook.

Vote to Abstain!
[ Parent ]

over cooked (none / 0) (#115)
by slopepoke on Sat Oct 26, 2002 at 09:16:00 PM EST

Most restaurants tend to under cook because its more cost effect to re-cook than than replace.
Had I known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of my 401k.
[ Parent ]
my wife is opposite (none / 0) (#49)
by mpalczew on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 06:13:01 PM EST

my wife is opposite
She always orders her steak rare, and on occasion has asked if there is any thing less done then rare.  To my surprise there is, raw and raw-rare. Personally mediam-rare is usually good, or Well at a shitty place.  I just don't feel like eating undercooked bad meat.
-- Death to all Fanatics!
[ Parent ]
How Steak is Done: (4.22 / 9) (#40)
by Hillgiant on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 05:44:01 PM EST

Show it a picture of fire.
Put it on a plate, garnish, bring to the table.

"It is impossible to say what I mean." -johnny

Amen!!! (4.33 / 6) (#44)
by Anon 17933 on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 06:01:48 PM EST

That is the ONLY way to cook a steak!!!

I cringe every time I hear: "well-done, please" And they they slather it with A-1 sauce!! The nerve!!

A true steak should drip blood on your plate -- if it doesn't, all the flavour has been cooked out of it. And it should be eaten with no sauces, spices, etc... The taste of the meat itself should be the only thing you taste.

[ Parent ]

Gah . . . (none / 0) (#90)
by The Archpadre on Sun Oct 20, 2002 at 04:48:38 PM EST

If I wanted that, I'd just chew on my arm. For me, meat's all about the seasoning.
Where did my waffles go?

[ Parent ]
Hate to sound elitist here (3.75 / 8) (#41)
by jayhawk88 on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 05:46:26 PM EST

But steaks not grilled over an open flame make Baby Jesus cry.

KC Strip is our specialty in the midwest here. Seasoned salt generously rubbed on both sides, cooked on a not-quite-completely-clean grill (carcinogens be damned). Serve with baked potato (or tater tots in a pinch), Stove Top Stuffing, and some form of bread, preferrably garlic.

Why, then, should we grant government the Orwellian capability to listen at will and in real time to our communications across the Web? -- John Ashcroft
umm (none / 0) (#46)
by mpalczew on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 06:03:35 PM EST

Personally I sear for 3.5 - 4 min on each side and I don't use an oven.  When resting on the rack the steaks are covered in aluminum foil, so they cook through and rest at the same time.  I usually do this with two large t-bones ~ 1.25lb.  One for me and one for my wife.  

How, do I check for donness? I like my steaks med-rare and they always come good.  

I try to have steak 3-4 times per month and find it invigorating and satisfying(sp?), and believe that a helthy piece of cow is good for you.
-- Death to all Fanatics!

Excellent article. (none / 0) (#48)
by gr3y on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 06:07:55 PM EST

Reading it made me hungry.

I'll try it this weekend. Personally, I prefer filets because they're lean and boneless. They're more expensive, though, but I learned to look at that as a "rate limiting step". I shouldn't be eating all the red meat I want in any case - all good things in moderation.

Every try blackened steak? It's delicious.

I am a disruptive technology.

My Perfect Steak... (2.63 / 38) (#50)
by eSolutions on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 06:16:03 PM EST

...I prepare by unzipping my pants.

"Now, what we have here, Little Sister, is a magnificent specimen of pure Alabama Blacksnake, but  it ain't too goddamned beaucoup."

Wait! Before you mod me down, ask yourself -- are you really modding this comment down, or are you modding down *my worldview*?  You're entitled to the former, but the latter shows a frightening, unenlightened perspective on the world.  WAIT!  Uh, have you read Foucault?  AARGH -- NO!  NOT THE ONE!  FOUR, TWO, ANYTHING! NOT ONE!

Making periods more convenient -- one box at a time.
--Tampax Commercial

the perfect steak... (2.33 / 6) (#54)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 06:32:46 PM EST

cannot come anywhere near a skillet, frying pan, or any other non bbq applicance.

Bah,I fart on your non-grill seared steak.

Besides, the only way to eat steak is rare, period.


It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown

Tech? (none / 0) (#57)
by anothertom on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 07:20:00 PM EST

Shouldn't this be in the "food" section?

mwamm (3.33 / 3) (#60)
by Matt Oneiros on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 07:38:08 PM EST

nothing can compare to a perfectly prepared rare steak.


Lobstery is not real
signed the cow
when stating that life is merely an illusion
and that what you love is all that's real

Hate speech (1.25 / 4) (#61)
by p0ppe on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 08:03:53 PM EST

That's hate speech, you insensitive clod. Veggie power for all!

"Democracy is three wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner."
No, no, no. (2.00 / 2) (#62)
by Korimyr the Rat on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 08:31:27 PM EST

If you're going to grill it, you need a grill. And un-grilled steak is not worth contemplating.

That's the extent of how wrong you are, though.

Beyond that, I prefer lemon pepper and chili powder to Kosher salt and black pepper. Much more interesting flavor.

"Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'

2 mistakes (none / 0) (#65)
by Rhodes on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 09:32:31 PM EST

Getting a nice piece of fat on the outside of the steak is critical.

Make a cut every 2 to 3 inches to prevent curling.

Charcoal grilling is the only way of "real" grilling.

Flavored wood also are excellent (mesquite is the traditional wood for beef and chicken.

Curling` (4.00 / 1) (#66)
by psyconaut on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 09:37:49 PM EST

Actually, cutting meat is generally considered a bad idea.....as it allows juices to drain even once the meat is seared.


[ Parent ]

meat cutting (5.00 / 1) (#101)
by Spud The Ninja on Mon Oct 21, 2002 at 06:37:03 PM EST

Rhodes was talking about the fat along the edge; it should be scored to prevent curling. You are right about the meat though: only butchers and diners should cut it, never the cook!

[ Parent ]
Thank You (none / 0) (#67)
by mmealman on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 09:41:13 PM EST

For the link to Omaha Steaks. As luck would have it there's a local shop for them near both my apartment and where I work.

Guess what I'm eating this weekend! He he.

Be sure to let them thaw first (none / 0) (#80)
by dscottj on Sat Oct 19, 2002 at 09:12:52 AM EST

You're a couple days away from actually eating it. Omaha flash-freezes their stuff and packs it in dry ice. When you pick it up, it's as hard as a hammer. The *best* way to thaw is in the fridge. A faster way is to figure out a way to get cold water circulating around it, that'll thaw it in just twenty minutes or so.

Don't forget the cast iron!

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

Rack (5.00 / 1) (#69)
by Bad Harmony on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 09:57:12 PM EST

What does the rack do? Besides letting the steak get cold.

5440' or Fight!

Lets the meat settle (4.00 / 1) (#79)
by dscottj on Sat Oct 19, 2002 at 09:10:44 AM EST

When you pull it off the heat, there's still a lot going on inside the steak. Letting it rest a bit lets everything finish up and really improves the flavor. And at 5 minutes it's just cool enough to eat, not cold at all.

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

Letting the juices condense back into the tissue (4.00 / 1) (#83)
by LairBob on Sat Oct 19, 2002 at 11:55:29 AM EST

When you look at it practically, any meat (beef, chicken or anything else) that you take off a high heat should sit for a few minutes. The water inside the meat boils at 212F, and you're subjecting the meat to heats of 400F or more using some of these techniques.
Granted, the average inside temperature of the cut isn't going to get that high, especially if you leave it rare, but searing the meat effectively seals the exterior, creating what's almost a balloon. Some of the water does turn to steam, and it creates an internal pressure that will drive the juices out if you slice it open too quickly. Letting the meat cool allows the juices to sink back into the tissue of the meat, and they'll stay there through carving and serving till you eat it.
For that same reason, I'm skeptical of all the "tenderizing" techniques that recommend poking holes in the meat. Especially once you've begun the searing process, poking or slicing the meat is "popping the balloon", and in my experience, you're always going to end up with a leathery result. Personally, I've never found that poking it up ahead of time yields a very different result.

[ Parent ]
5 Spice Poweder, Paprika (none / 0) (#70)
by bjlhct on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 09:57:23 PM EST

One of the above is absolutely necessary for the perfect steak.

kur0(or)5hin - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism

absolutes (none / 0) (#102)
by Spud The Ninja on Mon Oct 21, 2002 at 06:46:05 PM EST

Well, since paprika is tasteless next to a good hunk of meat, I'm guessing you're referring to the 5 spice powder as being the necessary steak seasoning. Personally, I've never been overly fond of Chinese seasonings... too many bad associations with steamed meat.

Have you ever tried a nice Montreal steak spice? Spicy peppers, onion, garlic - a very nice steak rub, but still lets the flavour of the steak be appreciated.

[ Parent ]

My method. (3.85 / 7) (#71)
by j1mmy on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 09:59:09 PM EST

  1. Find a bull.
  2. Disable the bull.
  3. Eat the bull.
This method has a number of advantages. First, disabling a live bull can be great exercise! Second, eating uncooked meat is a good workout for your immune system. Third, slaughtering animals is a fun hobby the whole family can enjoy.

Where does slaughtering enter the picture? (none / 0) (#89)
by The Archpadre on Sun Oct 20, 2002 at 04:42:18 PM EST

After all, you only said I had to disable the bull.

(Nothing like a nice meal of living flesh. You know it's properly prepared when your ribs are rising and falling with its last breaths.)

The Archpadre D.F. Picklestein, Carnivore Extraordinaire
Where did my waffles go?

[ Parent ]
2 methods (4.66 / 3) (#72)
by cr8dle2grave on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 10:20:49 PM EST

One for real USDA Prime and one for that stuff you buy at the supermarket.

The Prime Method:

  1. A good cut of meat is the single most important factor in the production of a truly stupendous carnivorous delight, and USDA Prime is the gold standard (I've heard Japanese Kobe is as good if not better). Hint: you almost certainly will not find real prime grade beef at the supermarket, and will have to go to a specialty butcher. I'm partial to the rib cut (it looks like a little log and can be cut into nice and thick slabs).
  2. Very little should be done to prepare a fine cut of meat, the natural aged flavor is what you paid all that money for and you don't want to go ruining it with a dash of this and a pinch of that. A little salt and pepper rubbed in and just a touch of lemon or lime juice should be all that is required.
  3. As directed in the article, sear in cast iron skillet.
  4. At this stage a grill is, as far as I am concerned, an absolute must. With a thick cut, 7-10 minutes is usually sufficient to achieve medium-rare and 9-12 minutes should get you medium. If you like your meat medium-well or well, then don't waste your money on quality meat. You can check for doneness by poking the meat with a fork, the juice will very red almost burgundy (but not bloody) if medium-rare and a lighter almost rose color if medium. If you don't see a lot of juice, scrap your plans for steak and re-purpose your overcooked meat for fajitas.
  5. Enjoy.
Supermarket Steak:
  1. Cooking a lesser quality meat is actually trickier than it is to cook up the prime stuff, as you need to compensate for the deficiencies of your primary ingredient. Most major supermarkets will sell Choice grade cuts of meat (I don't suggest getting anything less) and a reasonably thick New York Strip can be turned into a pretty damn good meal.
  2. Preparation is of the utmost importance when cooking anything less than Prime. To begin with, your steak needs to be tenderized. I have found a fork is the best way to achieve this. Poke it vigorously! Both sides!
  3. Marination has two purposes: 1) it further tenderizes the meat, and 2) it flavors the meat. An ideal marinade must accomplishes both objectives. Believe it or not, I have found Coke to be an indispensable element of a good marinade as it does a damn good job of tenderizing (think of what it does to your teeth) and the sugar can contribute to a nice sear. Add to this some spices like salt, pepper, and soy or worcestershire sauce. Soak for at least two or three hours in the refrigerator.
  4. Sear and cook on a grill or in the oven as directed in the article.
  5. Enjoy.

Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera

Cut off the horns and wipe the ass (n/t) (1.80 / 5) (#73)
by prometheus on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 10:34:35 PM EST

<omnifarad> We've got a guy killing people in DC without regard for his astro van's horrible fuel economy
improve steak 100% (3.00 / 2) (#74)
by tarsand on Sat Oct 19, 2002 at 12:14:23 AM EST

Use moose, not beef.

"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
Mmmm, steak! (none / 0) (#77)
by epepke on Sat Oct 19, 2002 at 02:06:43 AM EST

That is a very interesting article, because it's quite a bit different from my perfect steak, which goes like this. Warning! I like it rare with gobbets of flesh on the inside.

  1. Meat: Porterhouse, from a decent butcher. I prefer about 1.5 inches thick.
  2. Spices: Chop some garlic and rub it with your hands on both sides of the state. Sprinkle Lawry's seasoned salt on, and freshly ground pepper. Let sit in the fridge for at least an hour.
  3. Cooking: You need a Hibachi. Not one of those wimpy sheet metal "Made in the United States" Hibachis, either, the ones that are made out of cast iron, weigh about thirty pounds, and dissolve into a bround stain if you leave them out overnight.
  4. Fire: Standard charcoal, unless you can get real wood charcoal. Do not use match-lightable charcoal. Nor use lighter fluid. There will not be enough time to eliminate the gasoline flavor. You need an early, very hot fire. Light it with a propane torch, laid against the corner of the Hibachi flaming into a few briquettes. Wait until there's a little fire. Remove the torch, put the grills right on the body of the Hibachi, and place an electric fan to blow onto the briquettes. Stir occasionally. It is ready when all briquettes are lit and there is fire in all the interstices. You can add hickory chips at the last minute, but don't wet them.
  5. Procedure: With the racks still on the bottom, cook two minutes per side. The garlic bits will burn; this is desirable. Then raise the grill to the lowest notch and cook, depending on thickness and desired degree of doneness, 4 minutes up on either side.
  6. Accompaniments: A salad with a vinagrette dressing, in my tradition eaten while watching the steak cook. A good pickle (pickled cucumber). Ba Tampte half-sour works best, or a very good Polish cucumber, unless you can get something better. A Guinness. If you drink more than one Guinness, use a fresh glass at room temperature for each one.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

do you cook with charcoal? (5.00 / 1) (#110)
by garlic on Wed Oct 23, 2002 at 02:04:24 PM EST

There's no such thing as a hot early fire with charcoal. You wait 1/2 an hour after lighting charcoal and thats when the coals start getting warm.

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

Nah (none / 0) (#114)
by epepke on Fri Oct 25, 2002 at 04:31:46 AM EST

Try it with an electric fan. Seriously; it works.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
You could do that if..... (none / 0) (#127)
by Liet on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 03:17:27 AM EST

you wanted smelly garlic hands!

[ Parent ]
But of course! (none / 0) (#128)
by epepke on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 05:38:01 PM EST

All right-thinking people want smelly garlicky hands.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
but (1.00 / 1) (#78)
by auraslip on Sat Oct 19, 2002 at 04:00:09 AM EST

MEAT IS MURDEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRR! On A side not it is quite sad that this is true becuase I love bbq and steak sauce. cruel irony.
on a side note (5.00 / 1) (#88)
by nanobug on Sun Oct 20, 2002 at 03:38:47 AM EST

If you haven't listened to the NOFX album Liberal Animation yet, do it now. :)

[ Parent ]
What I do (5.00 / 2) (#82)
by ghjm on Sat Oct 19, 2002 at 11:55:27 AM EST

1. Buy USDA Prime Certified Angus tenderloin fillets (also known as filet mignon) from Fresh Market, Wellspring Grocery, Farm Fresh, or some other quality butcher. Choose the ones that stand up two inches tall, and have the least visible veins of fat (I like a solid block of meat).

2. Don't screw around with salt, spices, or any of that crap.

3. Turn on the gas grill and, contrary to manufacturer instructions, leave it on "start" (maximum possible flame) for about 2 minutes. This brings the grill rack & exterior metal to the maximum possible temperature.

4. Reduce flame to minimum, throw the steak on and count to 30. Remove the steak - put it back on the plate.

5. Increase flame to maximum, close the lid, count to 15. Grill is now back at maximum temperature.

6. Reduce flame to minimum. Throw the steak on, other side down. After 1 minute, increase flame to about 25% of maximum. Let it cook for 4 to 5 minutes.

7. Turn steak again. Leave it for 3 to 4 minutes.

8. Eat. Repeat from step 1 as budget permits.


Best test for doneness I've found yet (5.00 / 1) (#84)
by LairBob on Sat Oct 19, 2002 at 12:11:51 PM EST

That pudgy little German chef who's on all the Discovery Channel shows once showed how to tell how well meat is done in a pretty fool-proof way--it's along the lines of what you quote in your article, but a little more straightforward (and works pretty well for any kind of meat, not just steak)...
First of all, he said you never cut a piece of meat to check its doneness. Any trained chef, he said, can tell how well done a piece of meat is by poking it with a finger.
He said as a reference to make a loose fist, thumb pointing up, and to poke the the hunk of meat that rises up between the base of your thumb and forefinger. If your fist is very loosely clenched, almost fingers just hanging there, then that's what a piece of raw or very rare meat is going to feel like. If you lightly clench your fist, like your holding an egg or something delicate, then that mound will feel like medium-rare meat. Firmly clenched, well-done, and when it's like you're about to punch somebody, then it's how my dad likes it. (When the waiter asks him how well done, his favorite reply is "Ruin it.")
Once you get used to checking this way, it really is reliable. I've been able to cook steaks to several different levels of requested doneness for dinner parties without much fuss, and without poking any holes in anything. Remember to just let the meat sit (the rack is a great idea), and you won't have to worry about wrongly cooked steak (or anything else) again.

Steak (none / 0) (#85)
by jxg on Sat Oct 19, 2002 at 05:24:38 PM EST

Marinate the steak for an hour or two in lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and thyme.

Wrap marinated meat in parsley.  It doesn't matter how much; it'll all get burned off later.

Burn the meat on a grill.  It'll be done when the inside is greyish-brown.  You'll know what color the inside is by periodically cutting it, which has the added benefit of letting the blood drain out.  It should take around a half-hour on high flame, and slightly less on medium.

Sounds like tasty shoe leather to me [n/t] (5.00 / 1) (#87)
by dscottj on Sat Oct 19, 2002 at 07:31:05 PM EST

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

Another way of testing doneness (4.33 / 3) (#86)
by nlaporte on Sat Oct 19, 2002 at 06:01:16 PM EST

Another way to test the rarity of a steak is to use the big muscle at the base of your thumb. Poke it with your other index finger while touching the tip of your thumb to the other fingers, one at a time. Index finger is rare, middle finger medium rare, ring finger medium well, and pinky is roof shingle.

John Shydoubie. Shydoubie. John Shydoubie. John Shydoubie.
How about.. (none / 0) (#94)
by tonyenkiducx on Mon Oct 21, 2002 at 11:24:36 AM EST

..remembering were not all american.. Whats a "New York strip"? Omaha steaks dont really deliver to anywhere but America(They do, but its rediculously expensive), and in Britain the back-burner isnt always the largest one, but I presume you just ment the hottest one? Other than that, I'll give it a try some time this week, its certainely different from how I usually do it. Personally I prefer to heat up a tiny bit of butter and garlic in the pan until its at maximum heat, then throw the steak in, cook it as long as possible before it starts to burn, then repeat on the other side. The throw some thyme on it, turn over, more thyme, over again, then serve.. I usually have it with mash potatos to soak up all the juices left over.

*TIroCllA* *NTrSoEllE* *YTrOolUl*
I get paid in crumpled up fivers, its all the schoolkids can afford these days. There spending all t
Meant a back burner (5.00 / 1) (#95)
by dscottj on Mon Oct 21, 2002 at 01:29:35 PM EST

Because in the US most stoves come with crappy vent hoods and if you try to sear anything on the front burner the smoke will go into your house instead of into the vent. The first time I tried this in our old apartment it fairly filled it with smoke.

Didn't have time to research steak supply stuff in england. Rules are too different, and by now the EU has probably regulated them to the point they look like chicken nuggets. :)

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

hehe (none / 0) (#104)
by tonyenkiducx on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 05:45:55 AM EST

Yes they have. Its the french you see, they hate us, so they ban our beef, and then they have to put up with week old US frozen imports, or silly little belgian steaks. At least you can still buy nice big scottish and english steak here. You cant really buy steak online here, but theres a very nice ostrich meat place online..


*TIroCllA* *NTrSoEllE* *YTrOolUl*
I get paid in crumpled up fivers, its all the schoolkids can afford these days. There spending all t
[ Parent ]
I Hope None of You Vegans Have Children (2.50 / 6) (#96)
by egg troll on Mon Oct 21, 2002 at 01:45:37 PM EST

A reputable professor made a comment over on the other site regarding veganism. I hope that he won't mind if I reprint it here:


Coincidentally, my dissertation was on this very subject. Through my studies of the health and lifestyles of vegetarians, vegans, and normal healthy eaters, it became clear to me that eliding meat from one's diet is a surefire way of shortening one's lifespan and causing irreversible developmental retardations in children. We humans are designed to eat meat, and the consequences of not doing so are numerous:

  • It is impossible for a strict vegetarian diet to provide all the essential amino acids necessary to develop and maintain a human body. A vegetarian can eat all the beans and nuts he likes, but he still won't get his daily requirements of lysine or glycine. The consequences can range from muscle atrophy to development of diabetes and other severe disorders. Vegans further exacerbate this problem by avoiding nutritious milk, eggs, and other animal products.

  • Vitamin B-12 does not exist in vegetable matter, and can only be absorbed from animal products. This vitamin keeps your brain and nervous system in working order, and is absolutely essential to infants' growth cycles. Unfortunately vegans are so tied up in their dogma that they would rather kill their own children [nzherald.co.nz] than let them get this essential vitamin.

  • Vegans and vegetarians almost always live more decadent lifestyles than healthy omnivorous eaters. Almost 90% of the vegans I interviewed classify themselves as Wiccan or Neo-pagan. Followers of these cults are infamous for their unhealthy behaviour. They often foster unhealthy "polyamorous" relationships which spread venereal diseases. They are known to be aquaphobic and avoid bathing or showering, under the pretense that filth makes them "closer to the Earth." These delusional habits are very likely tied to brain damage caused by vitamin B-12 deficiency as explained above.

I seriously urge all vegetarians and vegans to reconsider the health implications of their lifestyle, especially if they have or plan to have children. While veganism may be merely unhealthy for a grown adult, it can absolutely cripple a child whose development depends on a well-balanced diet of both meats and vegetables.


He's a bondage fan, a gastronome, a sensualist
Unparalleled for sinister lasciviousness.

Le Creuset Skillet (5.00 / 1) (#97)
by xerxes on Mon Oct 21, 2002 at 02:21:01 PM EST

Use of a Le Creuset skillet is the only thing I can add to improve the technique and make it match mine (well that and not go for the medium-rare plus doneness preferred by the author).

Le Creuset makes cast iron skillets, and then coats them with enamel. This has all the heat retaining advantages of the Lodge cast iron skillet, with the additional bonus of a pan you can deglaze to make a delicious sauce while your steak is sitting on the rack. The Maillard reaction is what gives the sear such a tasty flavor, and no sauce is complete until you deglaze and add the juicy little bits caused by the Maillard reaction that are left over in the pan. Since enamel is non-reactive (unlike the cast iron), you have much better saucing options.

Le Creuset rocks (5.00 / 1) (#99)
by Edgy Loner on Mon Oct 21, 2002 at 03:11:53 PM EST

Excellent cookware, their only drawback is they are heavier than hell and cost an arm and a leg. They'll last a lifetime though. I have a couple of their Dutch ovens. I prefer AllClad for pans. Also in the arm n leg price category.

This is not my beautiful house.
This is not my beautiful knife.
[ Parent ]
*EXPENSIVE* (none / 0) (#100)
by dscottj on Mon Oct 21, 2002 at 03:30:13 PM EST

Lodge products are probably around 1/5th the cost. I, too, use all-clad for my "everything else" pots, and they're expensive enough.

For someone looking to stick their toe into cooking, as I was nine months ago, a $24.95 12" cast iron skillet (what I paid for mine) just can't be beat.

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

No contest on expensive (none / 0) (#113)
by xerxes on Thu Oct 24, 2002 at 06:17:28 PM EST

I completely agree about the expense factor. I too used plain-old Lodge for a long time; it does a great job.

But the article was about the Perfect Steak, and my comment was offered in that vein. TANSTAAFL, and all that.

[ Parent ]

cooking surface on le creuset (none / 0) (#108)
by foog on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 02:50:28 PM EST

someone just told me that the cooking surfaces on le creuset frying pans are not coated... if that's true then the advantage is mostly that they're flat.  The pretty ceramic coating on the outside is nice though.


[ Parent ]

Cooking Surface IS Enameled (none / 0) (#112)
by xerxes on Thu Oct 24, 2002 at 06:10:39 PM EST

At least it is on my skillet. There might be versions that are not, however. Maybe as a cost saving measure? The price point is admittedly high forthe good stuff.

[ Parent ]
my two cents on steak (3.66 / 3) (#105)
by foog on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 02:03:45 PM EST

Steak is like stereos, everyone thinks they're an expert.

You can't get USDA Prime like your parents and grandparents could; it
just doesn't exist anymore.  (You can still get 1st quality steaks,
but you'll pay, and USDA Prime is not quite the guarantee of quality
that it was). The USDA changed their grading system in 1987 to lower
standards and to include the inexpensive, lean "select" grade, and
cattle ranchers have been raising cattle to meet these lower
standards---and leaner standards for inexpensive beef---ever since.
That's why you see branded beef like "Certified Angus" etc in the
grocery stores now; these are equivalent, roughly, to the better
"choice" cuts under the USDA's old system.  To get first-quality
steaks, you have to go the specialty butcher route.  I haven't had
Omaha steaks.  The steaks served at some of the finest restaurants in
the country (Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Trotter's in Chicago) come from
Niman Ranch (http://www.nimanranch.com).

Great chefs are raving about grass-fed beef, which I'm skeptical
about, but hey, Alice Waters probably has better taste than I do:
http://www.alderspring.com/ If business keeps picking up for me, maybe
I'll get some to try.

If you want to know what steak is supposed to taste like, what you
have to do is start spending serious money at the best steakhouses in
your area.  If you're in the lower 48, Ruth's Chris is probably within
a day's drive; so is Morton's.  Black Angus, The Outback, etc do not

Others have pointed out, correctly, that the better the
meat, the less you want to do to it.  A little salt and pepper and
butter is best.  Kosher salt is unnecessary but if you think it's a
nice touch, go for it.  If you really like pepper on your steak, crush
peppercorns in a mortar and pestle.  Coat one side only of the steak,
this is the side you'll cook first.  Don't do this for the first time
with a premium piece of meat; it's easy to overdo cracked pepper.

Let me repeat, the better the meat, the less you want to do to it.
Unless you're just grabbing any old piece of meat on sale at the
grocery store, this means the following are offenses that cry out to

Other heavy seasonings---be careful with cracked pepper!
Tenderizing with a club (this had to be a troll)
Cooking steaks past medium rare [1]
Barbequed steak
Most steak sauces

The corollary to this is, if you insist on doing any of the above
things to steak, you can save a lot of money by looking for the
cheapest meat you can find.  Do try thoroughly tenderizing
grocery-store pork cutlets with a club sometime, though.

All this nonsense about steaks having to be cooked over coals or an
open flame is just macho posturing.  The best steak houses broil their
steaks for a reason.  You want *really* good beef with wood-smoke
flavor, you do a *roast*, not a steak, on something like a Hasty-Bake
(http://www.hastybake.com/) with hardwood charcoal and wood chips.

The reason you broil steak is, as others have pointed out, you just
won't get the temperatures necessary for steak on a barbeque.  You
need high temperatures to cook the meat faster than it can lose
moisture.  All this stuff about locking in the juices by searing, not
cutting the meat or piercing it with a fork, etc, is superstition: if
you're fussing around cutting the meat, it's READY TO EAT ALREADY.
You brown (sear) steak so that it looks nice and tastes good.  You
don't cut it or pierce it so that it looks appealing and professional
when you serve it.  You cook it fast at high temperatures so that it
doesn't dry out.  It's that simple.

Ok, so here's how I cook steak, not that different from what others
here have posted, but there are a couple details that are important:

Preheat oven to at least 450 degrees.  I leave the broiler off because
I like to sear the steak in the pan.

Heat a cast iron frying pan [2] on medium-high heat.  Don't let it get
to smoking, you want it to be just at the point where a drop of water
will dance on it.

Add a liberal amount of butter, about 2 tablespoons or a quarter
stick.  Wait for it to stop foaming.  Don't wait until it starts
smoking, butter burns easily.

Add steak, pepper and salt side down.  Sear for one minute.  

Turn and quickly put the whole pan in the oven.  Leave it in there 3-7
minutes depending on the starting temperature of the steak, its
thickness, etc.

Remove and let the steak settle for a couple minutes before eating.
If it's an unremarkable piece of meat, I usually spend this time by
deglazing the pan with minced shallots or garlic and a liberal amount
of the red wine I'm drinking with the steak.  Reduce this down and
pour over the meat.  Otherwise, just pour the butter and juices left
in the pan over the steak right before serving.

Alternatively, just heat up the broiler, salt and pepper the steaks
lightly and broil them about 5 minutes give or take.  Melt a little
butter with some chopped fresh parsley and pour over the steaks.

Cooking times are VERY approximate: you just have to get a feel for
the size of steak you like, the typical temperature in your kitchen
(if you let the steak get to room temperature, and this is the only
way you'll get consistency), how hot your oven actually gets, how rare
you like your steak, etc.  Acquire this feel with grocery-store

I'm conservative in what I drink with steak: a nice cabernet, usually.
Once in a while a merlot.  I'm not much of a wine snob: I mostly drink
cheap South American reds from Trader Joe's.  If I'm in the mood for
beer, one of the better microbrew pale ales.  Full Sail is nice and
widely available.  Imported beer is always stale on the west coast,
and usually stale on the east coast too.  You'll pay an arm and a leg
for fresh imported beer from a specialty shop, and the better US
microbrews are usually more interesting.

What else to eat with steak?  I like to start with sliced tomatoes
with blue cheese, or a fresh salad with a nice vinaigrette.  If I'm
really hungry, Trader Joe's carries french onion soup frozen in
individual portions---better than you can do at home without making
your own stock from scratch, and a lot less fuss.  Soup or salad is
best eaten while the steak is being prepared, or before.  Steamed
broccoli or asparagus with lemon juice and butter.  Red potatoes with
parsley and butter.  You get the idea.

Cook tuna steaks the same way but reduce cooking time drastically to
keep it RARE.  Grocery-store ahi tuna is usually decent, too.
Experiment with other fish steaks; I've had interesting results with
inexpensive shark steaks.

Steak is tricky; don't serve steak to guests you want to impress
unless you fix first-quality steak often enough to get it perfect
every time.


[1] If you order steak at a restaurant cooked past medium rare, you're
likely to get the dregs of their freezer.

[2] Lodge is crap, but if you're buying new, it's what you'll probably
be stuck with.  What you really want is a cast iron frying pan with a
machined flat cooking surface.  Look at your Lodge pan---see that
nubbly cooking surface?  The best cast iron pans have a smooth flat
surface.  Used to be they didn't really cost any more, either, you
just had to look a bit longer for them.  These days, you probably have
to try thrift stores, junk stores, yard sales, etc.

oh yeah, a bit of heresy (none / 0) (#106)
by foog on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 02:12:02 PM EST

when nobody's looking, I usually sprinkle the tiniest bit of a creole seasoning salt like Tony Chachere's on steaks I cook.

and next time I do cheap grocery store steaks, I'm gonna try a little MSG.


[ Parent ]

Wow, difference of opinion (5.00 / 1) (#119)
by bored on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 01:27:31 PM EST

Christ where do i start.... :>

If you want to know what steak is supposed to taste like, what you have to do is start spending serious money at the best steakhouses in your area. If you're in the lower 48, Ruth's Chris is probably within a day's drive; so is Morton's. Black Angus, The Outback, etc do not qualify.

First Ruth's Chris seems more 'environment' than good food to me. Its not bad, but I'm not a particular fan of their steaks. I live in Austin and I can't remember a single review where they got anywhere near first place for best steak in town (maybe i'm reading the wrong reviews). Christ Texas Land and Cattle has better steaks. They may not meet the yuppie requirements but the steaks are good. They aren't particularly expensive either. Your right about Outback and Black Angus though... :> Outback was good 10 years ago when they opened in St Petersburg FL, since then, well....

All this nonsense about steaks having to be cooked over coals or an open flame is just macho posturing. The best steak houses broil their steaks for a reason.

In a minute..

The reason you broil steak is, as others have pointed out, you just won't get the temperatures necessary for steak on a barbeque.

First, barbecue is the sauce you put on meat, usually slow cooked in a smoker. Secondly, a decent grill, proper air flow, and good charcoal will get _FAR_ hotter than most peoples ovens will in normal operation. Not that you want to though, its possible to get too hot, and with my grill the convective air flow forces O2 into the charcoal resulting in the 700+ degree temperatures at the wire. At these temperatures the thing burns through charcoal like its paper and your steak is still cold on the inside while the outside is a crispy critter. Instead you want to practice proper temperature control like you do while broiling a steak (or baking it if you have pre browned it) only its about 100x as hard to get right using charcoal. In my case this results in lots of wrecked underdone or overdone steaks. On the other hand a little smoke from a few wood chips (this is really important) acts like a flavor enhancer that's as strong as MSG.

So, if you happen to be the kind of person who can taste the difference between a 50% grass fed and 75% grass fed cow then more power to you. You probably don't need the salt either, nor the browning. Personally, I find a decent cut of meat from a decent butcher or central market to provide more than enough eating pleasure. I use salt, pepper and a little smoke (all though I have had a number of excellent results playing around with different ideas like throwing a matte of fresh basil on the grill and putting the steaks on that etc.) on a dirty grill. If that's to much, flavor then to each his own. My mouth enjoys the dirty unclean experience of cooking like a cave man. I do buy hormone and antibiotic free meat, there isn't any point in pressing my luck with some resistant bacteria on my barely cooked meat. I eat sushi on a regular basis and have tried the beef raw too. If your into delicate flavors that's the way to go.

[ Parent ]
indeed (none / 0) (#129)
by foog on Wed Feb 05, 2003 at 02:59:10 AM EST

First Ruth's Chris seems more 'environment' than good food to me. Its not bad, but I'm not a particular fan of their steaks. I live in Austin and I can't remember a single review where they got anywhere near first place for best steak in town (maybe i'm reading the wrong reviews). Christ Texas Land and Cattle has better steaks.

Texas Land and Cattle doesn't meet the other requirement for U.S. readers: their locations are primarily (all?) in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Many readers will not have a better steak house than Ruth's or Morton's within a day's drive. I can believe you have many in Texas.

a decent grill, proper air flow, and good charcoal will get _FAR_ hotter than most peoples ovens will in normal operation. Not that you want to though, its possible to get too hot, and with my grill the convective air flow forces O2 into the charcoal resulting in the 700+ degree temperatures at the wire. At these temperatures the thing burns through charcoal like its paper and your steak is still cold on the inside while the outside is a crispy critter. Instead you want to practice proper temperature control like you do while broiling a steak (or baking it if you have pre browned it) only its about 100x as hard to get right using charcoal. In my case this results in lots of wrecked underdone or overdone steaks.

You are quite correct. My error: I should have written: "temperatures and thermal mass". This is why you broil or roast steaks: there isn't as great a temperature gradient in your oven.


[ Parent ]

it just so happens... (5.00 / 1) (#111)
by j0s)( on Thu Oct 24, 2002 at 03:33:04 AM EST

that im a broiler at a steakhouse in southern california. so heres a couple tips to get the best quality meat... use midwestern beef, if i could remember the quality codes, id give you the ones for the better of the midwestern ranches. our restaraunt uses corn-fed midwestern beef. next, only get single muscle cuts. there a lot more tender and taste great, not the shit the guy at vons slices up. the beef should be aged then sealed til used. all our meat is aged 21-28 days and vacu-packed. if there is a lot of blood, its not going to be juicy or tender, the meat should hold the blood in. and next, a much better way to get the temperature of your steak. open you hand and let the muscles relax. look at your palm. touch your palm where your thumb joint is, the meaty part between your wrist and thumb. thats rare. thumb to index finger, MR, thumb to middle finger, M, thumb to ring finger, MW, thumb to pinky, W. thats our fool proof way or telling. but if you using filet mignon, it becomes a relative scale. for sirloin or ny, its more or less flawless once youve learned the trick of it, but since filet is so tender, the well done will feel like thumb to ring finger. cook enough steaks and touching the tongs tot he steak on the grill will tell you how cooked it is by its tenderness.

-- j0sh -- of course im over-dramatizing my statements, but thats how its done here, sensationalism, otherwise you wouldnt read it.

single muscle cuts? (none / 0) (#117)
by bolthole on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 07:03:49 PM EST

whats a "single muscle cut"?

You've just done the equivalent of "Buy a graphics card with a dual pipeline, harware zbuffering, gourand shading a multitexture support". People who arent serious graphics afficionados will have no idea what that means :-)

Please suggest specific 'good' cuts.

[ Parent ]

its pretty much what it says (none / 0) (#121)
by j0s)( on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 05:50:32 AM EST

the steak you buy is cut from a single muscle. all cuts of steak can be cut from a single muscle. it just depends on who does the cutting and in what direction/how they cut the meat. the most tender and most flavorful steaks will be cut from a single muscle. the stuff you buy in the store, is generally a random slice though the hunk of meat. they take the large sirloin portion and randomly cut 12oz off of it. a single muscle cut would be when the slab is cut down into muscles and then cut to size. you can generally see the grain of the meat. if you buy from a butcher, he should know what it means.

-- j0sh -- of course im over-dramatizing my statements, but thats how its done here, sensationalism, otherwise you wouldnt read it.

[ Parent ]
gad-zooks (none / 0) (#122)
by bolthole on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 09:39:12 PM EST

This are still fairly fuzzy to me.

I would like to go to the supermarket, look at the various packages on display, and easily be able to pick one up that matches "single muscle cut". Are you saying there is generally no way to get that style without asking a butcher by hand to do it for you?

[ Parent ]

thats the only way to be sure [nt] (none / 0) (#123)
by j0s)( on Sat Nov 09, 2002 at 04:01:19 AM EST

-- j0sh -- of course im over-dramatizing my statements, but thats how its done here, sensationalism, otherwise you wouldnt read it.

[ Parent ]
Salt (none / 0) (#116)
by a2800276 on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 11:19:40 AM EST

I was kind of suprised that you said rub salt in the steak. This may be a holy war type issue, but you'll find quite alot of people (including me) who'll be smart-asses and tell you not to rub salt onto meat. Salt draws moisture and as that will drawn liquid out of the steak which will make it less juicy (I'd like mine rare & bloody, please) and potentially less tender.

Basically the same reason as not poking a meat thermometer in or cutting the steak open to determine how done it is. On that subject j0s)( 's advice below about using the ball of your thumb (or whatever it's called) to determine the done'ness of a steak is right on, and much preferable to using your face or other body part (heaven forbid).

BUT the problem with all those methods for beginners is being able to just focus on the touch sensation instead of being overwhelmed by the heat when touching the steak in the skillet. Different cuts, thicknesses feel different for different levels of done'ness anyhow.

Using you face is particularly troublesome when you're cooking several steaks because you come out of the kitchen looking like an idiot because of all the steak grease on your nose, chin and cheeks :)

Sooner or later you'll get the hang of it and just kindof know when it's done the way you'd like it.

And by the way, don't forget to toss some thinly sliced onions along with your choice of red wine, cognac, balsamic vinegar, etc into the skillet but only after the steaks are not longer in there.

Salt is great. (none / 0) (#118)
by duffbeer703 on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 11:07:32 PM EST

Rub olive oil and salt, along with other spices on a steak and it will create a crust that will seal in the moisture.

[ Parent ]
Natural Meat Tenderizers (4.00 / 1) (#120)
by insulglass on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 02:21:41 AM EST

I'm probably not the only one who does this.... I simply can't afford the super nice cuts whenever I have a hankering for steak. Therefore, I am usually relegated to inexpensive chuck cuts or similar. I like to tenderize them as follows: 1) Perforate both sides with a fork 2) Make a marinade using a small chopper or blender as follows: 1/2 cup liquid seasoning (Dale's sauce, Moore's, or similar), 1/4 cup water, 1 peeled Kiwi fruit. This is normally enough for 1 to 1-1/4 lb of meat. 3) Marinate steak for 30 minutes at room temperature on each side; or, make enough marinade to to immerse. 4) Throw it on a hot grill, pour the remaining marinade on top and let it cook in. 4) Grill it to desired doneness. (Use a pan???? Gak...) Try and flip only one time, and hold off on cutting the meat to check doneness unless absolutely necessary. Frankly, this looks really nasty when you prepare it, kinda like you've spread green snot clumps all over your steak. However, the natural papain enzyme in the kiwi breaks down the proteins that help make meat tough. There are several tropical fruits that have this same enzyme, I personally prefer kiwi because it seems to impart less "non-steak" flavor. However, you can use pineapple, mango, papaya, guava, etc. The fruit must be fresh and not processed in any way. You can use fresh papaya juice and almost watch a steak disentegrate in a couple of hours. Good luck to all the cheap griller!

Marinating goodness (none / 0) (#124)
by chopkins1 on Tue Nov 12, 2002 at 03:28:58 PM EST

Ok, there's only one problem with your 1/2 hour suggestion. that amount of time gives the marinade no time to permeate the meat. Marinate at LEAST 4 hours (better if ovenight). If you can do this, any steak cut you may get will be orders of magnitude more tasty.... As Justin Wilson would say, "I guaranteee!!"

[ Parent ]
bathing steak (none / 0) (#125)
by bumhat on Wed Nov 13, 2002 at 12:41:41 PM EST

I read about this in a magazine and tried it - it works : 1. Don't marinade or season the steak before you cook. 2. Use a griddle pan with butter (best) or olive oil (healthier). 3. Prepare a "bath" - a flat bowl or deep plate containing a liquid marinade. Soy, lime + chilli, mirin, sherry, whatever takes your fancy. 4. Get the butter/oil hot, then cook each side of the steak for 30 seconds (rare) or a minute (well done). 5. Take the steak out, put it in the bath for a minute a side. 6. Pop it back in and finish cooking (another 30 seconds either side for rare, a minute for well done). 7. You can use more than one bath; just repeat the cook/bathe procedure. 8. Season and serve. This method yields a criminally juicy steak - it absorbs the liquid from the bath like a sponge. Yum !

bathing steaks (none / 0) (#126)
by bumhat on Wed Nov 13, 2002 at 12:52:24 PM EST

Found this in a magazine - quicker than marinading, and a damn site tastier.

Prepare a "bath" (deep plate or shallow bowl) of liquid - lime+chili, mirin, soy, sherry, whatever.

Don't season or marinade the steak beforehand - just pop it into a griddle pan of HOT olive oil (healthy) or butter (better).

Sear on high heat for 30 sec a side, then take it out and pop it in the bath for a minute each side so it absorbs the liquid.

Then put it back in the pan and finish cooking (another 30 sec either side). Pour over the remaining liquid just before the end.

Season and serve. Result - a bodaciously juicy and fresh-tasting steak !

If you like your steak well-done, increase cooking times; you can also use more than one bath for an amazing "layered" effect.

BBQ (none / 0) (#130)
by Cackmobile on Fri Jun 13, 2003 at 08:20:24 AM EST

What about the BBQ. Thats for sure the best way to cook a steak. Flame grilled. hmmmm BBQ. having one tonight!!!

My Perfect Steak | 130 comments (103 topical, 27 editorial, 0 hidden)
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