TOP 10 TIPS FOR COOKING & HANDLING STEAKS & CHOPS
1. ALWAYS ALLOW YOUR STEAKS AND CHOPS TO COME TO ROOM TEMPERATURE BEFORE COOKING!
This will help evenly heat the meat through the cooking process and decrease cooking time because the interior of the meat is not heating from a refrigeration temperature to the final cooked temperature.
2. DRY THE SURFACE OF YOUR STEAK BEFORE SALTING & COOKING.
You don’t want any moisture on the surface of your meat to interfere with the contact points on the heating element. In the pan, on the grill, or in the oven, moisture on the surface of the meat will inhibit the caramelization process. Note: as soon as you season the meat, the salt will begin to draw moisture away from the surface of the meat. So pat it dry, season and dry again if necessary. Using a little olive oil to help the season adhere to the meat is totally fine, oils are fats and will not cause steam when heated like liquids will.
3. DO NOT SEASON YOUR MEAT AHEAD OF TIME.
Not only will it alter the texture of the meat, but by the time it has any real affect on the interior flavor of the meat (4-6 hours) the salt will have brined the surface of the meat and can make it dense and chewy. So when you are ready to place the steak on the heat, pat it dry, rub it in olive oil, season liberally with steak seasoning or salt & pepper, and place the steak onto the heat.
4. AS A GENERAL RULE: USE HIGH HEAT FIRST & FINISH WITH LOW HEAT.
Here are a few examples using different cooking mediums:Charcoal grill - 2-3 minutes on each side over the hottest coals then move to a cooler portion of the grill and put the lid on (vents open) to finish with some smoke. Gas grill - Same as charcoal grill. Place meat over the hottest grill surface then move to cooler side and pull down the lid to finish. You will not get the benefit of lightly smoking the meat unless you are using a smoking element in your grill. Cast Iron Pan - Sear your meat in a smoking hot cast iron pan with a light coating of neutral oil (Do not use olive oil. If your pan is hot enough to properly cook a steak, it will burn olive oil). After a couple of minutes on each side, finish in a 350° oven. After a few minutes in the oven, when the steak is just about ready toss a pad of salted butter in the pan with a sprig of thyme and baste your meat with the browning butter and herb. This will make for a really flavorful and dark crust.
5. USE A DIGITAL MEAT THERMOMETER!
There are countless ways to check the “doneness” of a piece of meat, but unless you are using a Thermal Circulator, there’s only one way to really know the interior temperature of your meat and that requires the precision of a digital thermometer. Using a digital thermometer also ensures that you can error on the side of removing your meat from the heat too soon, rather than too late. You can always heat your meat more, but never less!
6. DON’T LET YOUR MEAT-LOAF, BUT ALWAYS LET YOUR MEAT REST.
Allow your meat to rest in a warm place for at least 15 minutes before slicing. This will give the muscle tissue time to reabsorb some of the juices that have been pushed out during the heating process. As the meat cools (even slightly) the warm juices will thicken ever so slightly and hold onto the tissue. During this resting period your meat will continue to cook, called “carryover cooking,” so, remember to take your meat off the heat about 5°-10° lower than your desired internal temperature and do not cut into it until the temperature has then dropped slightly below the desired internal temperature. This tip is especially important with leaner meat such as 100% grass-fed beef and larger cuts that can retain heat longer, like roasts.
7. BEFORE DIGGING-IN, DRIZZLE SOME TOP-SHELF OLIVE OIL OVER YOUR MEAT AND SPRINKLE IT WITH SOME FINE FLAKE SEA-SALT.
This a chef trick that I’ve used for years. The oil, because it’s a fat, will spread the flavor across your palate while the salt, hitting your tongue first, will make you salivate and ensure a deep flavor experience. Don’t skip this step, it’s really a game changer.
8. ALWAYS USE A SHARP KNIFE TO CUT YOUR MEAT.
A dull knife will just smash the meat and a serrated steak knife will just tear it. Your beautiful steak deserves better than that. A sharp blade will ensure even slicing and will help retain juices where they belong, first in the meat and then in your mouth.
9. SLICE AGAINST THE GRAIN.
If, because of the cut of the steak, you cannot slice against the grain, just cut your steak into smaller pieces. Not only does cutting against the grain and into smaller pieces yield a more tender bite, but it also ensures you will cut through any connective tissue that would be inedible in larger bites.
9. DRY AGED STEAKS DON'T NEED ANY SAUCE, PAN DRIPPINGS WILL DO.
But if you must, and often I must, we recommend the go-to steakhouse classic, Worcestershire sauce. It’s a timeless fermented condiment, white-boy fish sauce if you will and it pairs perfectly with grass-fed beef, rich and fatty grain finished beef and even grilled pork chops.