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.
I don’t mean that everyone needs 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 full 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’.
If you wanna be a meat wizard and cast the perfect level 8 Summon Steak conjuration, you need a few basic spell components:
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:
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.
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 use 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:
It’s a good mix of herbs and adds flavor without overwhelming the taste of the meat. I get mine at Whole Foods in NYC.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Don’t be too generous if you haven’t used it before; a little can go a long way.
STEP 3 – Flip and repeat.
STEP 4 (optional) – In most cuts of beef, there will be areas of high marbling; basically, large fat deposits. In 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
At the 3 minute mark, bring the 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 the heat OFF and flip the steak once more.
STEP 13 – Cook for 1 minute, then—using tongs—remove steak from pan and place on a 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 the 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.
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.
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.
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.