Tools You Need to Cook the Ultimate Steak

 

Everyone loves a good steak, but not everyone knows how to properly cook one.  It’s a basic skill that you ought to master if you’re a true blue steak lover, but it does admittedly take a bit of practice to get those steaks to turn out perfectly. Apart from your own skill and the meat itself, your choice of tools will also make a difference in the ways your steaks turn out. The more often you get the chance to prepare steaks with the equipment you’ve got on hand, the more familiar you’ll become with how your food will react. Whether you’re interested in learning better techniques on how to cook steak in the oven or on the grill, you can certainly benefit from a little more knowledge about what will affect the quality and flavor of your steak meal.

Let’s get started on what you’ll need to cook your ultimate steak at home.

The Meat

This is what a good steak is all about.  You could indulge yourself with high-end steak cuts like ribeye, strip- or tenderloin, or T-bone or porterhouse.  But if you’re after quality, beefy steaks at a more affordable price, you could also choose from cuts like the hanger, the skirt, the short rib, the sirloin tip, the flank steak, or the tri-tip.

Check for the marbling or intramuscular fat in each cut of steak.  The more marbling there is, the tastier and juicier your steak will be, as the fat melts right back into the meat as you cook, both flavouring and moistening it at the same time.  Remember, with steaks, the fat is your friend.

The experts say that the ideal thickness for your steak is between 1½ to two inches on average.  Any thinner, and you could overcook your steak before getting a good crust on it.  Too thick, and you could have a hard time getting that great balance of beautifully caramelized exterior and rare reddish interior.

The Tools

Let’s say your outdoor grill has gone into hibernation for the season but your steak cravings are just as sharp as ever.  Here are a few tools to use all year round even without a grill. Cooking steak on your stovetop or oven will be perfectly fine.

Knives

A good knife is without doubt your most important kitchen tool. A chef’s knife is a great multi-purpose blade for nearly every kind of kitchen cutting job. It needs to have good balance and a good grip as well as a keen edge that retains its sharpness even after a lot of work.  A boning knife is another good blade to have if you prepare a lot of meat at home.  It’s a very handy tool that makes deboning and filleting meat simpler and faster.  You can get a lot of meat off a bone with a slim and flexible boning knife.

Honing Steel or Whetstone

If your knife is your primary tool, then honing steel or a whetstone is its best friend.  Knife sharpness is key to working with meat.  A dull knife not only will make cutting a much more difficult chore, it will also tear your meat, compressing its fibers, instead of giving a smooth cut across the grain.

Honing steel is good for everyday sharpening — to bring your knife edge back to an acceptable keenness.  A whetstone comes in a variety of grits or degrees of coarseness.  Do your research on what grit is best for the knife you are sharpening. You can also look up numerous YouTube video tutorials on how to properly sharpen your knife without damaging the blade’s edge.

Meat Thermometer

Your oven or grill’s built-in thermometer is rarely totally accurate, so purchasing a separate meat thermometer is a good investment.

Unless you work with meat everyday or your fingers have the sensitivity of a trained chef, it’s unlikely for you, as an ordinary, everyday home cook, to accurately tell if your meat has reached the right temperature for doneness.

Each level of doneness corresponds to an approximate internal temperature of the steak.  For example, a medium rare steak should have an internal temperature of 130 degrees. A meat thermometer in hand will better help you determine how long to cook steak in an oven or over your grill.

Heavy Wooden Cutting Board or Butcher Block

Experienced butchers say that wood is much easier on your knives than plastic boards, so they are able to keep their edge much longer.  The board or block should be heavy and sturdy enough to stay in place as you do your chopping and slicing.

Clean your boards thoroughly after each use and disinfect them with heavily diluted bleach water, vinegar, or wood safe soap.

The Right Cooking Fat

If you really want to learn how to cook the perfect steak, set aside the extra virgin olive oil for now. Choose a flavour-neutral oil that has a high smoking point like canola or grapeseed oil.  They can withstand the high temperatures you need for cooking steak without burning or activating your smoke alarms.  At a high temperature, it can help give your steak a good crusty sear without making your eyes water from the smoke.

Cast Iron Pan

These are ideal for cooking meat because they can withstand very high temperatures and hold the heat for a long time. It isn’t difficult to understand why most people know how to cook a steak in a pan as cast iron pans are easily available and can work with nearly every kind of heating source – the stovetop, the oven, indoor & outdoor grill, or an open campfire.They last a very long time if maintained, seasoned, and stored properly to prevent rusting.

The Himalayan Salt Block

This is a fun cooking tool to add to your kitchen.

Salt, on its own, imparts a savoury aspect to any great dish, be it an entree like rib eye steak or a side dish like grilled vegetables, or a dessert like salted caramel cheesecake.  You can just imagine what flavor changes will occur once you start your indoor cooking and grilling on a Himalayan salt block. If you’re aiming to perfect your method on cooking the perfect steak, a Himalayan salt block will assuredly bring your steak preparation and taste to a whole new level.

Himalayan salt blocks are now more readily available — and they’re surprisingly easy to care for.  Cooking and grilling on them will impart a natural mild salt flavour to the food so there is no need to salt your steaks before grilling.

You need to gradually heat the block on your stovetop or oven.  It will retain the heat for a long time after it has reached its peak cooking temperature. After that, it’s just a matter of laying on your choice of protein and minding its core temperature until it’s cooked to the ideal doneness  and exhibits that sought-after crusty sear on the outside.

How to Cook a Steak on your Stove or Oven

So you’ve got your Himalayan salt block and you want to cook the perfect steak on it.  Here’s how you do it:

Since your salt block is your ultimate indoor grill, heating it properly is the first thing to get started on. Begin by turning on your gas stove or electric burner (put a metal grate or ring to help air circulate) on a low setting.  Make sure your salt block is completely clean and dry before putting it on top of the burner.  Set your timer for twenty minutes and let the block gradually warm up.  Increase the setting to medium and leave the block for another twenty minutes. Then turn up the heat again to high for another twenty minutes. You can check if your block is at its best cooking temperature by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. They should dance around a bit before completely evaporating. If you have a snazzy laser thermometer, make sure that the block is at around 500 degrees. The block must be fully heated before grilling. If not, it may actually over-salt and undercook your food.

Throw your unsalted steak cut of choice onto the slab.  For a medium rare doneness, grill each side for around 3½ minutes, checking for an internal temperature of 130 degrees. The meat will keep cooking even after you have taken it off the salt slab and will actually increase its internal temperature by around 5 degrees. So you should take off your steak when it reaches 125 degrees as its temperature will likely rise further to 130 degrees as it rests and its juices redistribute themselves.  Rest the meat for five minutes and then serve on a warmed plate with some grilled asparagus, a cold salad, or mashed potatoes on the side.

Any Time, Any Weather Cooking

Cooking and grilling in your kitchen could be as much fun as outdoor grilling.  If you have the right tools, then any season of the year could be a great grilling season. Just keep cooking and familiarizing yourself with your kitchen equipment and in no time at all, you’ll be a pro at whipping up a variety of meals anytime you or your family may want.

Micaela Jularbal

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