The Rules of the Steak

In this schlumpy economy, we are cutting out quite a few luxuries.  I know that I have.  One of my favorite luxuries is going out ot eat.  I'm not a salad girl, nor am I a grilled chicken breast kind of girl.  No, when I go out to eat I usually order a big juicy steak.  But now that times are tough, it is difficult for my family to go out.  Boy am I glad that I know how to make a great steak at home.  Shall I share this precious information with you?  Oh, ok!

First of all, let me remind you that a steak dinner is a special occasion kind of thing.  I don't want to feel responsible for mass amounts of colon atrophy because I expressed a love of red meat on the internet.  A steak dinner is a treat, kind of like a huge slice of chocolate cake.  Moderation is paramount.  

Second, you have to get accustomed to what cuts of meat you prefer.  Use the internet and watch  Food Network.  There are many different cuts of beef that all have different textures and flavors.  For myself, I prefer a good old ribeye.  A ribeye is a great cut of meat that isn't on the top of the price range as far as steaks go.  I wouldn't go so far as to say it is a budget cut, but it won't break you either.

Now that you have your lovely cuts of meat, STOP WHERE YOU ARE!  You're not going to freeze that are you?  I will be forced to call the food police if you freeze that gorgeous hunk of meat!  Oh, ok.  You don't need to use it for another 10 days and it's really not a good idea to refrigerate it for that long.  If you absolutely NEED to freeze your steaks (it is better to eat them within the first two or three days after buying them), then you need to do as I instruct.  Remove the steaks from their original packaging.  Get yourself a good quality freezer bag and place the steaks inside.  Now wrap the bag containing the steaks in freezer paper (found with the aluminum foil and plastic wrap), tape it closed and write on the package that steaks are contained inside and the date that you have wrapped them.  NOTE:  This is also a good hint if you like to buy bulk.  Don't go buy one of those air tight thing-a-ma-jigs.  

When it comes time for you to actually prepare your steaks, make sure they are totally thawed if you froze them.  If you refrigerated them, make sure that they sit out on your counters for at least 15 minutes before cooking them.  Seasoning can be tempting.  I bet you're tempted to used that prepackaged steak seasoning.  I bet you want to dust garlic powder on those steaks.  Don't do that.  First of all, those prepackaged spices are almost without exception mostly salt.  And garlic?  It will burn before the steak is even cooked to rare.  Keep your seasonings simple.  Salt and pepper.  If you bought a good cut of meat, you want to taste the meat, not the seasonings.  

Cooking methods can vary.  I've used a cast-iron grill pan, my trusty George Foreman Grill, and even a skillet.  What matters most is that you use a cooking surface that distributes heat well and can get HOT.  You want your cooking surface HOT.  If it is properly HOT, then you won't need to use oil or any other lubricant to avoid sticking.  Your steak will sear a skin that slips right off of the surface.  

It is your own personal taste that will dictate how well cooked you want your steak.  Myself, along with any other red meat enthusiast will tell you that Medium Rare is best.  It's warmed through and still pink and juicy in the middle without making your plate look like a gore-fest.   However, I realize that some people simply can't handle that and want it cooked more and some other people want the thing still kicking when they eat it.  So how do you know when it's done?  Don't rely on time, because it varies.  Rely on touch.  Yes, you're going to have to take your finger and poke your steak.  It's just a little poke, so don't worry.

Look at your hand.  Turn it up so that your palm is facing you.  Notice that the muscle under your thumb is big and dense.  You will rely on this muscle to show you where your steak is on it's cooking journey.

Now, touch your thumb to your pointer finger.  If you feel the muscle below your thumb, it is a little firm, but still pretty squishy.  If your steak feels like this, it is cooked rare.

Touch your thumb to your middle finger and feel the muscle below your thumb.  The muscle is firmer still.  If your steak feels like this then it is Medium Rare to Medium.

Touch your thumb to your ring finger and feel the muscle below your thumb.  If your steak feels like this, then it is Medium Well.

Touch your thumb to your pinky.  You will notice that the muscle is very firm and doesn't really give at all.  If your steak feels like this, then it is well done.

If you want some pink in your steak, you have to account for carry-over cooking.  You MUST let your steak sit under an aluminum foil tent for no less than 10 minutes before cutting into it and during that time a small amount of cooking in the middle of the steak will continue.  So if you want a little juice and pink, take the steak off of the cooking surface just before it is cooked to where you want it.  After it ie retrieved from under the foil tent, it will be prefection.

As a steak enthusiast, I must also warn you against putting ketchup or steak sauce on your steak.  If you have a cheap piece of meat or you overcooked the steak, then they might be ok, but a perfect steak does NOT need a condiment.  Just a knife, fork, and your face-hole.  

I hope this helps anyone who is tired of CHICKEN AGAIN for dinner and would like a "just because" special dinner.  Won't you look clever when you whip out a steak dinner that is prepared as flawlessly as in a restaurant?  Don't be afraid of it, it's only meat.

 

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