How to Cook a Steak Like a Chef (No Grill Necessary)
A prime restaurant steak is tough to beat, but it can be a pricey venture. Learn to cook a steak at home with all the flavor at half the price, no grill necessary.
When was the last time you experienced a quality steak house? You know what we mean, the kind with linen tablecloths, soft candlelight, a la carte sides that are horribly overpriced, and a waiter that is somehow both professional and slightly condescending all at once. Haughty service staff aside, steak houses tend to be a treat and an expensive one at that.
There’s no reason you can’t have the same incredible steak at home and at less than half of what that fancy steak house charges. Plus, you won’t get an eye-roll from the waiter when you ask if you can take the bread home in a box. Win-win, in our opinion. Interested in how to make that happen? Let’s start at the beginning.
Choose the Right Cut
Cooking a steak starts with picking the right cut of beef. Since we’re likely only adding salt, pepper, and maybe a few other herbs or spices, the cut used determines a lot. There are three main areas to look at it when we’re talking about steak: the tenderloin, the sirloin, and the rib steaks.
The tenderloin sits on the back of the cow; it’s very lean and very tender. It’s also quite costly. You might recognize it best as Filet Mignon or a Chateaubriand. While it’s many a customer’s favorite, within the world of chefs, it’s seen as flavorless, boring, and overpriced. Rule number one when cooking: fat equals flavor. So, it makes sense that this lean cut, while entirely appropriate for cooking as steak, isn’t a chef’s choice.
That said, you can easily add a bit of fat to a filet in the form of bacon (or bacon grease) or just a nice smear of butter before finishing it off.
The sirloin, however, is renowned amongst the culinary world. It’s what you’ll see featured in most steak houses. It’s got a little more fat, and therefore a little more flavor than the tenderloin. You’ll find cuts from this area listed as NY Strip, Kansas City Steak, and Top Loin.
Finally, we have the rib steaks. These tend to pack a lot of flavor. They also tend to lack in tenderness. Steaks in this category include t-bones, rib eyes, and porterhouse steaks. Other areas, such as the round, chuck roast, and front or hind shanks are more stringent, chewy, and often better left to different cooking methods than what we discuss here.
How To Prep Steak
What you do to prep your steak before cooking is a matter of opinion. We’ll address some tried and true practices here, but know that there are always other options. First off, many a restaurant chef and home cook knows that steak shouldn’t be stored in plastic. It needs to breathe! If you buy it shrink wrapped on a foam tray, remove the plastic as soon as possible and wrap the steak either in butcher paper, or set it on a plate in the fridge and loosely cover with paper towels.