SEARCH RFS:

Meat Mastery: A Photo Guide to making the Best Goddamn Steak You’ve Ever Had in Your Life

Never miss a glorious update - click here!

I’m of the mind that everyone should know how to cook. Everyone. Men and women, young and old, single or married.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t plan on doing much cooking, you should still know how to cook. I believe this so strongly that I listed it among my rules for a successful life.

The thing is, being able to feed yourself is a basic human function, and everyone needs to be able to do it. I don’t mean that everyone knows need to know how to cook exceptionally well, or be able to whip up a gourmet meal on the spot. I simply mean that you should have a baseline ability to prepare food.

Having said all of that, anything worth doing is worth doing right, so you should try to get better as you go. Remember, however, that practice makes perfect—so you should pick a few simple meals and make them over and over until you’re pretty proficient.

A good goal is to put together a menu of 3-5 things you don’t suck at making. I can cover some of those in a later post, but today we’re getting serious. We’re not talking about getting good enough to not suck; we’re talking about mastery—meat mastery.

Because, as the name of this post implies, if there’s one thing you should aim to master in the kitchen, it’s steak. And I’m going to show you how to do just that.

But why, you ask? WHY? Do you really need a reason to master steakery? Fine. Reasons you shall have.

A thick, juicy steak is one of the most iconic and delicious meals you can eat. The versatility alone makes it worth it — it’s great as part of breakfast (steak and eggs, anyone?), lunch (how about steak sandwich?), or dinner (no example needed). Steak can be served as part of a “fancy” meal or at a backyard bbq, and is equally suitable for both date night and boys night.

Even better, steak is beneficial for both your health and masculinity. That is, not only is being able to cook a great steak one of the hallmarks of manhood, it’ll also help protect that manhood. As I’ve mentioned before, red meat (assuming it’s the right kind) is fully of healthy fat, which in addition to some other benefits, can help keep your testosterone levels where they should be.

In short, steak is one of the best damn foods on the planet, so I’m going to show you how to make the best damn steak you’ve ever eaten. And I’m going to do it with pictures, damn it, because that’s just how I roll.

So, grab a slab, and let’s get cookin’.

Necessities for the Perfect Steak

If you wanna be a meat wizard and cast the perfect level 8 Summon Steak conjuration, you need a few basic spell components:

  1. Meat
  2. Lube (heh)
  3. Seasoning
  4. Pan
  5. Heat source

Let’s cover each of these briefly.

MEAT  before we discuss cuts, let’s just get the health stuff out of the way. Do your damnedest to always buy and eat organic, grass-fed beef. It’s better for you, the cow, and the planet. It costs about 10% more but you’re getting so many extra benefits that I can’t list them all. Seriously, do this. Every time.

There are a number of awesome farms all over, so buy as locally as possible. There’s a ranch fairly local that I just ordered from, but historically I’ve been getting all my meats delivered by Butcher Box. They’re pretty much my favorite online retailer. Great selection, great pricing, fast delivery and awesome customer service. Highly recommend them.

Now, for cuts: a full list of is beyond the scope of this post, but, just for fun, here’s a chart breaking down pretty much every cut and where it comes from:

Click to enlarge, obv.

Cool, right? Yeah. Since you don’t know what a lot of that means, here’s a link that explains a bit more. Not necessary information, but it’s interesting.

Really, when it comes to selecting a steak, the most important thing to know is that the best are the cuts with a decent amount of fat—they have more flavor and easier to cook. Well, harder to screw up.

Your best bets are the four “high end” cuts: the ribeye, sirloin (also called a Strip), tenderloin (aka filet mignon) and T-bone (which can be a porterhouse, if the tenderloin section is thick enough). These are going to have the best combination of fat, flavor and tenderness.

#Protip: you get any of these cuts “bone-in” these qualities will be even more pronounced.

They’re all good, and though I personally feel that the ribeye is the winner, which you choose is really a matter of taste1.

Cuts to avoid (at least, for the methods of preparation in this article) are London broil, tri-tip, and flank—these are best prepared on the grill, not in a pan.

Moving on.

LUBE – Yeah, I just used that word because it’s funny. Really, you just need something to grease the pan. Butter is the obvious choice — go with Kerrygold, because it’s boss. It’s like buttah.


SEASONING
– We’re cooking steak in a pan, so we want to do dry seasoning. No marinades. Simple seasoning is best, and many chefs swear by just salt and pepper. I’ve made a lot of steaks that way, but a few years back I stumbled across Borsari seasoning and I’ve never looked back:

Just add steak.

It’s a good mix of herbs and adds flavor without overwhelming the taste of the meat. I used to get mine at Whole Foods in NYC, but they seem not to carry it here in Cali, so I’ve been ordering on Amazon — grab it here.

PAN – You gotta cook your steak in something, but that doesn’t mean you should cook in anything. If you’re going to put in the time practicing the wisdom of ancient steakologists, you should do so with a the proper tools. As such, I highly recommend you invest in a decent cast iron skillet, if you don’t already have one.

Now, I’m not one of those cast iron fanboys that thinks they’re the only tool you need; they’re not— when it comes to eggs, pancakes, fish, or anything delicate, give me a good nonstick pan every time.

That said, cast-iron is great for meat because it gives off even heat, making for even cooking.

cast iron skillet for a perfect steak

Instrument of Construction

Prices range all over, but don’t feel compelled to spend a lot: I’ve been using my Lodge pan for like five years and I paid about 30 bucks for it. Treat them right and they’ll last forever. 

HEAT SOURCE – As I’ve said before, we’re not cooking on the grill, we’re using a pan. Obviously, you can and should just use your stove, but it’s worth noting that I’ve made a great steak in a cast-iron pan over a campfire. Of course, these days I don’t need a direct heat source, as I’ve been studying with Taborlin the Great; I know the name of fire, so all fires obey me and cook whatever I want. For everyone else, your stovetop will have to do.

With all of that covered, it’s time to get to the meat of the post. <— fuck yeah, puns.

Procedure for Cooking the Perfect Steak

STEP 1 – Begin with a gorgeous slab of organic grass-fed ribeye. Lay it on the plate and gaze in wonderment at the marvelous gift nature has given you.

perfect steak raw

#wouldsmash

A moment of silent gratitude for the cow that died so that you may live. (Not a joke, actually.)

STEP 2 – Season the face of the steak with the Borsari.

perfect steak seasoned

How are you not hard right now?

Don’t be too generous if you haven’t used it before; a little can go a long way. 

STEP 3 – Flip and repeat.

perfect steak seasoned 1

STEP 4 (optional) – In most cuts of beef, there will be areas of high marbling; basically, large fat deposits. At these areas, gently pull the meat away from the fat; it will create a small gap. I like to add some extra seasoning inside these gaps.

seasoned gaps in the perfect steak

Mind the gap, don’t fill the gap.

The more you season the fat, the more it will flavor the meat.

STEP 5 – If your meat has an outward layer of fat on one side, do not cut it off. Instead, liberally season it with the Borsari.

IMG_4670

Again, I’ve found this just adds overall flavor.

STEP 6 (optional) – Cover the plate with a bowl and let sit for at least 45 minutes.

#protip: use a metal mixing bowl, because it looks cool.

Chefs debate on how long you should salt your meat before cooking, but 45 is a good jumping off point. If you can’t wait 45 min, don’t wait at all. It seems that cooking within 3 minutes of seasoning is better than any period between 3 and 40 min. I tend to let my steaks sit for an hour.

STEP 7 – Place your cast iron over HIGH heat for 3 minutes, then bring the heat down to MED HIGH (this really just gets the pan up to the right temp faster).

STEP 8 – Place a very, very generous pat of butter in the pan.

Fear not the fat, my son.

Spread it around with a fork and get a good coat. 

STEP 9 – Party time. Nudge the heat just between HIGH and MED HIGH and place your steak in the center of the pan.

perfect steak cooking

dat sizzle.

STEP 10 – Cook for 3 minutes. At the 3 minute mark, bring the heat down to MEDIUM and flip the steak. (Use tongs; don’t jab at it with a fork).

perfect steak side one

Mmmm.

You’ll notice your steak is a nice healthy brown, with a few areas that look a tad crispy. The fat should be much darker, and will have receded into the meat.

STEP 11 – Allow this side of the steak to cook for 3 minutes. At the 2 minute mark, place a dollop of butter on the top of the steak, and allow to melt.

perfect steak with butter

MOAR BUTTER

 At the 3 minute mark, bring heat to HIGH and flip again. If the butter hasn’t melted completely, make sure it winds up under the steak as you flip. 

STEP 12 – After flipping, cook for 2 minutes, then turn heat OFF and flip steak once more.

STEP 13 – Cook for 1 minute, then—using tongs—remove steak from pan and place on plate.

STEP 14 (optional) – Add a small pat of butter on top.

STEP 15 – Wait 3-5 minutes. Very important. Letting the meat rest helps make sure the juices don’t leak out on first cut. Additionally, the juice, being kept inside, will further cook and flavor the meat.

STEP 16 – Cut into your steak. The edges should be firm and well-cooked, almost crispy; the interior should be bright red on the inside.

the perfect steak

Perfection.

Congratulations; you’ve just perfectly cooked meat, rare — get ready to enjoy the best goddamn steak you’ve ever had. 

Step 17 – Serve with two eggs, cooked over medium.

the perfect steak with eggs

Take a bite and try not to die from the sheer pleasure of your mouthgasm. 

STEP 18 – Send all your friends here for the recipe.

ADDITIONAL NOTES ON THE PERFECT STEAK

  • It sounds like a lot of steps, but really, it’s very simple: season, cook, flip, cook, flip, cook, done. That said, I have tested this extensively, and with a ribeye of average thickness, this really is the PERFECT method. So, yes, you do have to mess with the heat exactly as I said. And yes, you do need to flip the steak at the times I prescribe. 
  • You can try to futz with it, but you’re not going to try anything I haven’t. Trust me, I have made a LOT of steaks2 and tried just about everything.
  • Want your steak medium rare? No problem. Before you start, pre-heat your oven to 375. Then, follow steps 1-11 as laid about above. After step 11 take your cast iron off your stovetop (use an oven mitt, please) and put it in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove, then flip the steak and let sit for 1 minute. Remove steak from pan and let sit for 5. Congratulations, your steak is medium rare. 
  • Want your stake cooked above medium rare? Well, I’m sorry to inform you that you are not good at eating steak. I went to the same culinary school as Gollum, and he and I have the same thoughts on this: 
    I can make allowances for the occasional “medium”, but if you like your steak medium-well or above, you have come to the wrong place and are out of luck, because I can’t help you. It’s not even that I’m morally opposed to helping you overcook and waste good meat, it’s that it really doesn’t matter how you prepare it. Ruined is ruined. 
     

Final Thoughts on the Perfect Steak

As I said earlier, if you’re going to learn to cook, mastery should be the goal; and if you’re going to master just one dish, it should be the steak. The perfect steak is healthy, delicious, and suitable for any meal, occasion, or guest. No matter when you make it, or for whom, it’ll always be a hit.

Follow the above recipe, and I promise, you’ll never be hurting for company at dinner time. 

Foot Notes
  1. While we’re on the subject, lot of folks will try to tell you that a filet mignon is the premier cut; I disagree. I suspect filet mignon has such an impressive reputations for two reasons: firstly it’s expensive, and people tend to equate price with quality; and secondly, it is a very tender cut, even when overcooked—most people tend to overcook their steaks, so their believe that the filet’s tenderness makes it supreme.
  2. Steak is the primary protein source in at least 6 of my meals each week, and has been for about 8 years. That means that just in that time, I’ve cooked about 2500 steaks. I’ve tried it all, okay?
About the Author

John Romaniello is a level 70 orc wizard who spends his days lifting heavy shit and his nights fighting crime. When not doing that, he serves as the Chief Bro King of the Roman Empire and Executive Editor here on RFS. You can read his articles here, and rants on Facebook.

  • goodwince

    I’ve cooked more steaks than you in my life purely because I worked in restaurants. Makes me superior, right? Maybe not.. Your methodology on pull the fat apart is completely new to me! Going to give that a shot and buy your seasoning mentioned because I’m a seasoning hoarder..

  • Good stuff JR. I like to lube mine with coconut oil. I’ll take a spoon or two fingers and rub it all over the steak…..

    Wait, is this message even appropriate for the internet?

    Anyhow, it makes a heck of a crust.

  • Joseph Piscitelli

    I Love a Good Steak, thanks for the Recipe, have never heard of that seasoning salt, so I’m ordering some from Amazon. Thanks again.

  • “Want your stake cooked above medium rare? Well, I’m sorry to inform you that you are not good at eating steak.”

    YES! That’s a great line that I will use to shame all my friends who like steaks burnt to a crisp.

    As for the cooking method, I’ll give this a go. Been loyal to the WSJ method for a while, but the copious amounts of butter in this recipe is extremely seductive.

  • wow same as on http://www.gripped.com.au/ gr8 stuff man

  • Awesome. but the greatest recipe for nice steak is get a lady into your kitchen and after 40 minutes you have your stake served :)

    • Is that a serious comment? I guess she should be barefoot and pregnant while she serves it to me, too, huh?

  • Kimberly Louise

    Hi, nice blog Really very interesting post shared above. Awaiting for more
    posts like this.

  • Awesome post!

  • Lee

    Very great tips on how to make a steak and it does look delicious. I don’t like the inside of my steak to be red or pink because I like it well done so will just have to cook it a little longer. I have yet to try this Borsari seasoning though.

    http://www.fatlossfactorxx.com

  • Kimberly Louise

    Hi, nice blog Really very interesting post shared above. Awaiting for more
    posts like this.

  • BFLY

    Usually I cook on charcoal but it was too cold Friday night. Porterhouse in the cast iron pan. Perfect for medium rare. Great call Roman

  • Solid share and tips. Plus I think Kerrygold is one of, if not, the sexiest butter around. My choice of meat would be the Ribeye. Aloha Roman!

  • Amy Budd

    Followed this recipe to the letter – you’re completely right, Roman, the steaks were PERFECT. My husband and I thank you for our fanfuckingtastic dinner. :)

  • Richard

    Used the method last Saturday night and produced an absolutely superb steak. Have been buying U.S. Wellness Meats for awhile: NY Strip and Ribeye. Saturday was a 1-1/2″ NY Strip. Didn’t have any Borsari yet so I used a U.S. Wellness equivalent. Seasoned as directed, let “rest” for two hours, then fired up my 12″ cast iron skillet and followed cooking instructions to the letter; the result was remarkable: crispy/crunchy top and edge, and perfectly RARE inside. Next up: Ribeye!

  • Warden

    What type of non stick pan do you use for eggs etc? Most of them are not healthy due to the Teflon. If yours has Teflon BIN IT ASAP

  • pixelzombie

    I’ll try this out, but right off the bat it is much more complex than the Alton Brown method.

    • True enough.

      If I may be honest, my issue with Brown’s method is that heating your oven to 500 degrees makes the entire house unbearably hot. Can’t stand that shit.

      • pixelzombie

        I will certainly agree with you there, we don’ use that method in the summer for that very reason.

  • Caesar

    ‘season the fat’ – hey, those girls need love, too!

    • We eats it, Precious, eats it whole.

      (And count it towards fat macros.)

  • T Ellen Carroll

    You had me at ribeye….

  • Ha. You said lube.

  • Whoa, amazing tips – thanks! Especially liked the “season the fat”, I’m definitely gonna try this one out.

    My two variations of this would be: 1. use a grill pan (a cheap way to add those nice lines onto the steak) 2. use coconut fat as teh lubez