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Steakhouse Secrets Only the Experts Know

Steakhouse Secrets Only the Experts Know

Your stove just can’t compete with a professional kitchen

There are few culinary experiences like the one you get at a great steakhouse. So how exactly do the chefs turn out steaks that are so tender and delicious? The Daily Meal has gathered these expert tricks that make those steaks so good, with a few tips you can use right in your own kitchen.

They work closely with butchers

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Top steakhouses don’t just grab any steak they see at the store — they work with butchers and, in some cases, head out to the packing house to inspect the meat themselves before selecting it for the restaurant. They’ll look for things like marbling, color and fat distribution. Check with your local shop to see if they offer butchering as one of their special grocery store amenities.

They use USDA prime steaks

Many steakhouses use USDA prime steaks — but what does that mean? To achieve that ranking, the steak needs to have the highest level of marbling, or intramuscular fat, and be from young cows. You might not be able to find USDA prime beef at your local supermarket, but some high-end stores and butcher shops would be a good place to check.

They use fresh, never frozen steaks

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Chef Michael Senich of LongHorn Steakhouse says that while frozen steaks may be cheaper and last longer, you sacrifice the quality of the beef. Freezing a steak can lead to ice crystals or freezer burn, and improper thawing can make it hard to cook a steak to the desired temperature. For best results, he says to always go with fresh steak. Frozen produce, on the other hand, can be just as good as fresh.

They start with a clean grill

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At LongHorn Steakhouse, Senich says all grillmasters start with a clean grill so a quality cut of steak won’t stick to it. To clean your grill at home, first, scrape the grill grates with a brush. Then, dip a hand towel in canola oil with a pair of tongs and run it along the grates as the grill is warming up. For more on this specific method of cooking, here are tips on how to grill the perfect steak every time.

They let the steak rest before cooking

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Fernando Garcia, director of culinary operations for Black Angus Steakhouse, says to pull steaks from the fridge and let them rest at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes prior to cooking. Letting meat come to room temperature before cooking is just one of the best tips and tricks for cooking steak, chicken and other meats correctly.

Some wet-age their steaks

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Some steakhouses serve “wet-aged” beef, which is essentially steak that’s been stored in an airtight, vacuum-sealed plastic bag for a few days or even up to six weeks. While wet-aged beef is more tender than beef that hasn’t been aged at all, it’s a lot less robustly flavored than its more upscale counterpart, dry-aged beef.

Some dry-age their steaks

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Many great steakhouses dry-age their beef for anywhere from two to three weeks, and sometimes much longer. In order to dry-age beef, whole primal cuts (large pieces of meat carved out at butchering) are stored in a temperature- and humidity-controlled room and carefully monitored. When ready to serve, the layer of mold that has formed on the meat's surface is removed before it’s cut into steaks, and the end result has a more robust, earthy flavor that steakhouse fans know and love.

They use super thick steaks

Steaks at high-end steakhouses are usually well over an inch thick, sometimes approaching 2 inches. Not only is a super-thick steak a lot more impressive-looking on the plate than a half-inch one, but the thickness also gives the broiler a lot more time to go to work on caramelizing the outer crust. If it were a thin steak in that broiler, the center could be overcooked before a nice crust had time to develop.

They use lots and lots of salt

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Steakhouse cooks liberally apply salt to a steak before it goes into the broiler, typically using kosher or sea salt. Morton Salt invented the phrase, “When it rains, it pours,” so let that salt pour when seasoning your steaks at home.

They don’t always stop at salt, though

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Black Angus’ Garcia suggests adding your favorite spices to a mix of salt and pepper to season before cooking. Garlic and onion powders are great savory flavors in the rub, he says. And while you’re in your spice drawer, channel your inner Marie Kondo and clean out any expired or duplicate spices.

They go beyond spices

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For maximum flavor, Shula’s corporate chef and culinary director Demetrio Zavala first seasons steak with salt and pepper. He then waits for a pan to preheat over medium heat and, once it smokes lightly, he adds a teaspoon of canola oil and places the steak inside. He allows the steak to cook for two minutes on each side to reach medium-rare. Then, he adds butter, fresh thyme and whole garlic cloves to the pan. Spoon the butter from the pan over the steak. This is called basting, which adds moisture and flavor to the surface of the meat, Zavala says. If peeling garlic is a pain for you, here are easy hacks from restaurant chefs.

They use a lot of butter

You know that sizzling effect that Ruth’s Chris is famous for? That’s the result of adding a big dollop of butter to the pan right before the steak is served. Steakhouses use all sorts of techniques to make sure their steaks are juicy and flavorful, but many steakhouses aren’t afraid to use a whole lot of butter.

They use infrared broilers

That deep, dark, caramelized crust on steaks from great steakhouses? You can thank an infrared broiler for that. While some steakhouses still grill or griddle their steaks, many including Bobby Van’s, The Palm Restaurants and Morton’s use infrared broilers, which superheat large surfaces to an even temperature. Some steakhouses depend on these broilers to cook their steaks, and while they can be difficult to master, the end result is a steak with a nice crust.

They use super-high heat

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If you were to attempt to cook a steak at home with the same amount of heat that steakhouses use, you’d end up with a very smoky kitchen and maybe even a fire on your hands. Those infrared broilers can reach temperatures of over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can cook a 2-inch-thick steak in a matter of minutes. Even the ovens that the steaks are finished in often reach temperatures of more than 500 degrees. “We use commercial-grade broilers that cook proteins at very high temperatures,” David Holben, executive chef of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, told The Daily Meal. “The home kitchen equipment used only performs to a certain level, which has a ceiling on its output of BTUs, or heating capacity.”

They flip frequently

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According to LongHorn Steakhouse's Senich, to cook the meat evenly on both sides of a steak, grillmasters flip it every three to four minutes.

They let it rest after cooking

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Humans aren’t the only ones who need rest. Senich says the biggest mistake that at-home grillers make is cutting into the steak too early, which allows the moisture to drip out. Before taking the finished product out to the dining room, LongHorn Steakhouse lets every steak sit for one to two minutes to make sure it stays juicy when the diner cuts into it.

They use different cooking methods for different cuts

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According to Bridget Wasser, executive director of meat science, culinary and supply chain at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, tender steaks like strip, rib-eye and T-bone can be cooked with dry-heat methods including grilling and broiling. The best way to cook less tender steaks like flank, skirt, round and chuck is by using moist-heat cooking methods like braising or slow-cooking to elevate tenderness. Or, they can be cooked with dry-heat methods, like grilling, if tenderizing marinades are applied prior to cooking.

They marinate cuts that need it

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For less tender steaks like flank, skirt or round, Wasser suggests a tenderizing marinade that contains acidic ingredients such as lemon juice, flavored vinegar or even Dr. Pepper as well as natural enzymes like ginger or pineapple. Allow a fourth- to a half-cup of marinade for every pound of beef and marinate for six to 12 hours in the refrigerator — never at room temperature. Dry rubs and marinades work best when cooking beef on a grill, Wasser says. Avoid pastes or marinades with high sugar content to minimize burning.

Some cut their own beef

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Wasser says to consider buying larger roasts from your grocery store or butcher and trimming them into steaks to save more money and get the exact thickness you want. Ribeye, strip loin and tenderloin are easiest to cut into steaks at home, she says. Pull the roast directly from the fridge to cut into steaks, as beef is easier to slice when it’s cold. And make sure to cut steaks to uniform thickness so they cook evenly.

They brown, but not too much

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Before cooking, pat steaks dry with paper towels for better browning, Wasser suggests. This elevates the natural, great flavor of beef.

They don’t use forks while cooking

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When flipping steaks, use tongs instead of forks, Wasser says. Using a fork will pierce the beef and result in a loss of flavorful juices.

They use a meat thermometer

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Temperature is the best indicator of doneness, Wasser says. Insert an instant-read thermometer horizontally from the side so it penetrates the thickest part of the steak, not touching bone or fat. Resist cutting into steaks to check for doneness while cooking. You’ll lose juices and risk drying out the beef. Keep in mind that the temperature of the steak will continue to rise for a few minutes after cooking.

Don’t have a meat thermometer? No problem

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To check the doneness of your steak without a meat thermometer, Vanderlei Melchior, gaúcho chef and area manager at Fogo De Chão, says to open the palm of one hand and touch the fleshy area between your thumb and base of your palm on the other. That’s what raw meat feels like. For well done, press your thumb to your pinky and touch the same area with the opposite index finger. Repeat with your thumb and middle finger for medium-rare and your thumb and index finger for rare to know the feel you’re looking for in your steak.

They slice correctly

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If you’re slicing a steak before serving it, cut across the grain for optimal tenderness. Slicing across the grain means slicing perpendicular to the direction of the fibers, which makes the meat more tender and easier to chew, Wasser says. Also, when slicing less tender cuts across the grain, slice thinly to further elevate tenderness.

Their steaks are high in calories

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Well-marbled steaks contain a lot of fat, and with the addition of butter and other cooking oils, the calorie count of a steakhouse dinner could be high. For example, a 12-ounce slow-roasted prime rib from Outback Steakhouse has 1,050 calories and has 86 grams of fat, and that’s without any sides. Even if you order something like couscous, some better-for-you restaurant sides aren’t as healthy as you think.

They elevate the experience with wine pairings

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You can elevate your steaks at home with the proper wine pairings. According to Kendall-Jackson vineyard and winery, filet mignon goes best with pinot noir, New York strip goes best with cabernet sauvignon, rib-eye goes best with zinfandel, porterhouse goes best with syrah, and skirt and flank go best with merlot and sauvignon blanc, depending on the final preparation and accompaniments.

They complete the meal with side dishes


5 Expert Steak Tips: How You Can Cook A Perfect Steak Every Time

Summer is coming, and with it backyard grilling season. But you don’t have to cook outside to enjoy perfect steak: you just have to know some industry secrets. After years of writing on meat, steakhouses and grilling, I’ve compiled some of the best advice I’ve received from the chefs and experts that know red meat inside and out. Cooking a great steak every time should not be that hard, but we tend to over-complicate it with a few classic errors. Here is the cheat sheet of steak greatness.

Start With The Right Cut: When it comes to cooking red meat, thicker is better. It is no coincidence that the world’s best steakhouses often feature cuts for two like big porterhouse or T-bones. Thickness is a main reason why filet mignon remains such a popular cut despite being one of the least flavorful pieces of meat. The perfect steak is seared outside and rare in the center, and that is just a lot easier to do with thicker steaks. By the time you get a perfect sear on both sides of a thin steak, it is often gray all the way through. SW Steakhouse in the Wynn Las Vegas is easily one of the very best in the nation, and the question longtime chef David Walzog gets asked the most is how to cook the perfect steak at home. “Everyone wants their own steak, but at home it’s better to buy a thicker steak and split it. There’s a huge margin of error in cooking thin steaks, and if your meat guy has Prime, you’re probably going to pay $30 a pound for it, so splurge - it’s hard to screw up a thick steak. The difference between a 10-ounce strip that’s three quarters of an inch thick and a 16-ounce one that's an inch and a half is huge. That’s the best advice I have - buy the best meat but get it thicker.”

Start With the Right Meat: These days you can pay between $3 and $35 (or more) a pound for domestic beef, but there are two sweet spots in this spectrum, one for value and one for indulgence. To consumers, there are just three labelled USDA grades, Select, Choice and Prime, but there are actually eleven. Choice spans three levels, but the top tier has twice as much desirable marbling as the bottom, and two thirds of steak graded Choice falls into the lowest rung. The top third, known as “high Choice,” gets picked off by restaurants and special USDA branded private label programs, leaving most supermarket counters with the bottom two thirds. In recent years, there has been a big move on both restaurant menus and in stores to branded steaks limited to the upper third of Choice quality, and these rival entry level Prime at half the price. Look for names that cherry-pick high Choice like Certified Angus Beef, Niman Ranch and Creekstone Ranch, as this category represents the best bang for the buck in red meat.

If money is no object, you want Prime, but not all Prime beef is the same, especially in recent years as the amount has been greatly expanded by maneuvers such as butchering dairy cows, which are fattier but less tasty (USDA grading basically relies entirely on marbling appearance, and not at all on flavor). If you are going to pay for Prime, go all the way and get beef that is naturally raised and ideally dry aged, the single best thing that can be done to improve red meat. Dry aging evaporates out about 10% of the meat weight, all in water, leaving more concentrated rich meat flavor behind. Naturally raised beef, without antibiotics, steroids and growth hormones, is not just for people who want to avoid ingesting drugs - cattle raised this way grow slower and are butchered older, which often means more flavor. But the word “natural” alone means absolutely nothing: you have to see “naturally raised” or “raised entirely without antibiotics/hormones” to get the right thing. Or you can buy branded beef like Niman Ranch Prime (Niman is a true all-natural brand) or Certified Angus Beef Natural Prime (the Natural label is a subset of Certified Angus Beef brand). You almost certainly won’t find dry aged beef, the best of the best, at the supermarket. This kind of steak has to be bought at a specialized butcher or mail ordered from a top retailer like Debragga & Spitler, a New York area shop that supplies top fine dining restaurants but sells direct to consumers as well.

Use Really High Heat: There are many different styles of cooking steak, from gas and charcoal grills to frying pans to oven broilers to wood burning pizza ovens. But no matter which you choose, at home you want to go really hot. Most high-end steakhouses have special broilers or infra-red cookers that go way above 800 degrees, something your home oven cannot do. “The biggest tip is as high heat as you can get, whether on the grill outside or in a cast iron pan,” said Matthew King, Corporate Executive Chef for Smith & Wollensky steakhouses. “I’m going to cook it in the restaurant under a 1200-degree broiler for instant char. Nobody has that at home - I don’t and I’d love to.” The single easiest way for most home cooks to mirror steakhouse searing results is by using an old-fashioned cast iron pan, which retains heat better than newer materials. Let the pan get really hot before the steak goes in, sitting empty on high heat for at least 5-minutes, then add the steak and cook it long enough to get a good sear, about 3-minutes. Flip it, get another good sear, then move the whole pan into a 400-degree preheated oven and use a meat thermometer to finish (115°-120° in the thickest part for rare to medium-rare). This method runs counterintuitive to what most home cooks do, but is nearly foolproof and works so well that when celebrity chef siblings Bryan and Michael Voltaggio opened their Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse in the new MGM National Harbor casino hotel outside Washington, DC, they skipped the fancy commercial broilers altogether and stuck with the cast iron skillet method. You can get fairly high temps on an outdoor grill, but you must keep it closed and avoid the temptation to check on your meat or flip over and over. Every time you raise the lid the temperature drops precipitously and you need not flip more than once. After the second char, “Be prepared with indirect heat,” says Chef Dan Huebschmann of Chicago’s famed Gibson’s steakhouse. “People char the crap out of their meat. Have the option to move it to a part of the grill that’s off the flame to continue cooking, the same idea as finishing the cast iron pan in the oven.”

Over-Season: Restaurateur, author, James Beard Award winner for Best Chef and Emmy award winning TV host Ming Tsai once told me, “the only thing worse than using too much salt is not using enough.” Chef Walzog concurred: “You want to over season.” When it comes to steaks, aggressively coat the outside with your seasoning of choice, from basic salt (flaky or coarse sea salt) and pepper (always use fresh ground peppercorns!) to more complex spice rubs. This is going to help you develop the seared crust you want, while good quality red meat (see Tip #2) is a big dish that can stand up to lots of seasoning - and if you followed Tip #1 and went thick, you are still getting a large ratio of unseasoned interior to exterior crust in every bite.

Let It Rest: Home cooks have trouble believing what top chefs know as scripture, that letting the steak sit for at least 5 and ideally 10-minutes between cooking and serving improves the taste. The authors of one of the all-time great carnivore cookbooks, the River Cottage Meat Book from acclaimed UK farm to table butchery restaurant River Cottage, studied and taste tested the results extensively and documented how important resting is. The Food Lab at website SeriousEats took a more scientific approach and found that the exterior temperature of the cooked steak shortens the muscle fibers and forces liquid - aka juices - into the cooler center, so when you cut a just cooked steak, it spills out, literally leaving much of the most desirable flavor and juiciness on the cutting board or plate. Resting for 5-minutes let the exterior cool enough to start drawing the juices more evenly throughout the steak, but after 10-minutes, there was almost no spillage. We worry about things getting cold and often rush steaks onto a plate already loaded with sides and serve. but this is just flat out wrong. Not only will the steak taste better ten minutes later but it won’t get cold, as the steak keeps cooking after you take it off, typically rising 3-5°, so if anything, it should be pulled early and rested for a perfect result.


5 Expert Steak Tips: How You Can Cook A Perfect Steak Every Time

Summer is coming, and with it backyard grilling season. But you don’t have to cook outside to enjoy perfect steak: you just have to know some industry secrets. After years of writing on meat, steakhouses and grilling, I’ve compiled some of the best advice I’ve received from the chefs and experts that know red meat inside and out. Cooking a great steak every time should not be that hard, but we tend to over-complicate it with a few classic errors. Here is the cheat sheet of steak greatness.

Start With The Right Cut: When it comes to cooking red meat, thicker is better. It is no coincidence that the world’s best steakhouses often feature cuts for two like big porterhouse or T-bones. Thickness is a main reason why filet mignon remains such a popular cut despite being one of the least flavorful pieces of meat. The perfect steak is seared outside and rare in the center, and that is just a lot easier to do with thicker steaks. By the time you get a perfect sear on both sides of a thin steak, it is often gray all the way through. SW Steakhouse in the Wynn Las Vegas is easily one of the very best in the nation, and the question longtime chef David Walzog gets asked the most is how to cook the perfect steak at home. “Everyone wants their own steak, but at home it’s better to buy a thicker steak and split it. There’s a huge margin of error in cooking thin steaks, and if your meat guy has Prime, you’re probably going to pay $30 a pound for it, so splurge - it’s hard to screw up a thick steak. The difference between a 10-ounce strip that’s three quarters of an inch thick and a 16-ounce one that's an inch and a half is huge. That’s the best advice I have - buy the best meat but get it thicker.”

Start With the Right Meat: These days you can pay between $3 and $35 (or more) a pound for domestic beef, but there are two sweet spots in this spectrum, one for value and one for indulgence. To consumers, there are just three labelled USDA grades, Select, Choice and Prime, but there are actually eleven. Choice spans three levels, but the top tier has twice as much desirable marbling as the bottom, and two thirds of steak graded Choice falls into the lowest rung. The top third, known as “high Choice,” gets picked off by restaurants and special USDA branded private label programs, leaving most supermarket counters with the bottom two thirds. In recent years, there has been a big move on both restaurant menus and in stores to branded steaks limited to the upper third of Choice quality, and these rival entry level Prime at half the price. Look for names that cherry-pick high Choice like Certified Angus Beef, Niman Ranch and Creekstone Ranch, as this category represents the best bang for the buck in red meat.

If money is no object, you want Prime, but not all Prime beef is the same, especially in recent years as the amount has been greatly expanded by maneuvers such as butchering dairy cows, which are fattier but less tasty (USDA grading basically relies entirely on marbling appearance, and not at all on flavor). If you are going to pay for Prime, go all the way and get beef that is naturally raised and ideally dry aged, the single best thing that can be done to improve red meat. Dry aging evaporates out about 10% of the meat weight, all in water, leaving more concentrated rich meat flavor behind. Naturally raised beef, without antibiotics, steroids and growth hormones, is not just for people who want to avoid ingesting drugs - cattle raised this way grow slower and are butchered older, which often means more flavor. But the word “natural” alone means absolutely nothing: you have to see “naturally raised” or “raised entirely without antibiotics/hormones” to get the right thing. Or you can buy branded beef like Niman Ranch Prime (Niman is a true all-natural brand) or Certified Angus Beef Natural Prime (the Natural label is a subset of Certified Angus Beef brand). You almost certainly won’t find dry aged beef, the best of the best, at the supermarket. This kind of steak has to be bought at a specialized butcher or mail ordered from a top retailer like Debragga & Spitler, a New York area shop that supplies top fine dining restaurants but sells direct to consumers as well.

Use Really High Heat: There are many different styles of cooking steak, from gas and charcoal grills to frying pans to oven broilers to wood burning pizza ovens. But no matter which you choose, at home you want to go really hot. Most high-end steakhouses have special broilers or infra-red cookers that go way above 800 degrees, something your home oven cannot do. “The biggest tip is as high heat as you can get, whether on the grill outside or in a cast iron pan,” said Matthew King, Corporate Executive Chef for Smith & Wollensky steakhouses. “I’m going to cook it in the restaurant under a 1200-degree broiler for instant char. Nobody has that at home - I don’t and I’d love to.” The single easiest way for most home cooks to mirror steakhouse searing results is by using an old-fashioned cast iron pan, which retains heat better than newer materials. Let the pan get really hot before the steak goes in, sitting empty on high heat for at least 5-minutes, then add the steak and cook it long enough to get a good sear, about 3-minutes. Flip it, get another good sear, then move the whole pan into a 400-degree preheated oven and use a meat thermometer to finish (115°-120° in the thickest part for rare to medium-rare). This method runs counterintuitive to what most home cooks do, but is nearly foolproof and works so well that when celebrity chef siblings Bryan and Michael Voltaggio opened their Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse in the new MGM National Harbor casino hotel outside Washington, DC, they skipped the fancy commercial broilers altogether and stuck with the cast iron skillet method. You can get fairly high temps on an outdoor grill, but you must keep it closed and avoid the temptation to check on your meat or flip over and over. Every time you raise the lid the temperature drops precipitously and you need not flip more than once. After the second char, “Be prepared with indirect heat,” says Chef Dan Huebschmann of Chicago’s famed Gibson’s steakhouse. “People char the crap out of their meat. Have the option to move it to a part of the grill that’s off the flame to continue cooking, the same idea as finishing the cast iron pan in the oven.”

Over-Season: Restaurateur, author, James Beard Award winner for Best Chef and Emmy award winning TV host Ming Tsai once told me, “the only thing worse than using too much salt is not using enough.” Chef Walzog concurred: “You want to over season.” When it comes to steaks, aggressively coat the outside with your seasoning of choice, from basic salt (flaky or coarse sea salt) and pepper (always use fresh ground peppercorns!) to more complex spice rubs. This is going to help you develop the seared crust you want, while good quality red meat (see Tip #2) is a big dish that can stand up to lots of seasoning - and if you followed Tip #1 and went thick, you are still getting a large ratio of unseasoned interior to exterior crust in every bite.

Let It Rest: Home cooks have trouble believing what top chefs know as scripture, that letting the steak sit for at least 5 and ideally 10-minutes between cooking and serving improves the taste. The authors of one of the all-time great carnivore cookbooks, the River Cottage Meat Book from acclaimed UK farm to table butchery restaurant River Cottage, studied and taste tested the results extensively and documented how important resting is. The Food Lab at website SeriousEats took a more scientific approach and found that the exterior temperature of the cooked steak shortens the muscle fibers and forces liquid - aka juices - into the cooler center, so when you cut a just cooked steak, it spills out, literally leaving much of the most desirable flavor and juiciness on the cutting board or plate. Resting for 5-minutes let the exterior cool enough to start drawing the juices more evenly throughout the steak, but after 10-minutes, there was almost no spillage. We worry about things getting cold and often rush steaks onto a plate already loaded with sides and serve. but this is just flat out wrong. Not only will the steak taste better ten minutes later but it won’t get cold, as the steak keeps cooking after you take it off, typically rising 3-5°, so if anything, it should be pulled early and rested for a perfect result.


5 Expert Steak Tips: How You Can Cook A Perfect Steak Every Time

Summer is coming, and with it backyard grilling season. But you don’t have to cook outside to enjoy perfect steak: you just have to know some industry secrets. After years of writing on meat, steakhouses and grilling, I’ve compiled some of the best advice I’ve received from the chefs and experts that know red meat inside and out. Cooking a great steak every time should not be that hard, but we tend to over-complicate it with a few classic errors. Here is the cheat sheet of steak greatness.

Start With The Right Cut: When it comes to cooking red meat, thicker is better. It is no coincidence that the world’s best steakhouses often feature cuts for two like big porterhouse or T-bones. Thickness is a main reason why filet mignon remains such a popular cut despite being one of the least flavorful pieces of meat. The perfect steak is seared outside and rare in the center, and that is just a lot easier to do with thicker steaks. By the time you get a perfect sear on both sides of a thin steak, it is often gray all the way through. SW Steakhouse in the Wynn Las Vegas is easily one of the very best in the nation, and the question longtime chef David Walzog gets asked the most is how to cook the perfect steak at home. “Everyone wants their own steak, but at home it’s better to buy a thicker steak and split it. There’s a huge margin of error in cooking thin steaks, and if your meat guy has Prime, you’re probably going to pay $30 a pound for it, so splurge - it’s hard to screw up a thick steak. The difference between a 10-ounce strip that’s three quarters of an inch thick and a 16-ounce one that's an inch and a half is huge. That’s the best advice I have - buy the best meat but get it thicker.”

Start With the Right Meat: These days you can pay between $3 and $35 (or more) a pound for domestic beef, but there are two sweet spots in this spectrum, one for value and one for indulgence. To consumers, there are just three labelled USDA grades, Select, Choice and Prime, but there are actually eleven. Choice spans three levels, but the top tier has twice as much desirable marbling as the bottom, and two thirds of steak graded Choice falls into the lowest rung. The top third, known as “high Choice,” gets picked off by restaurants and special USDA branded private label programs, leaving most supermarket counters with the bottom two thirds. In recent years, there has been a big move on both restaurant menus and in stores to branded steaks limited to the upper third of Choice quality, and these rival entry level Prime at half the price. Look for names that cherry-pick high Choice like Certified Angus Beef, Niman Ranch and Creekstone Ranch, as this category represents the best bang for the buck in red meat.

If money is no object, you want Prime, but not all Prime beef is the same, especially in recent years as the amount has been greatly expanded by maneuvers such as butchering dairy cows, which are fattier but less tasty (USDA grading basically relies entirely on marbling appearance, and not at all on flavor). If you are going to pay for Prime, go all the way and get beef that is naturally raised and ideally dry aged, the single best thing that can be done to improve red meat. Dry aging evaporates out about 10% of the meat weight, all in water, leaving more concentrated rich meat flavor behind. Naturally raised beef, without antibiotics, steroids and growth hormones, is not just for people who want to avoid ingesting drugs - cattle raised this way grow slower and are butchered older, which often means more flavor. But the word “natural” alone means absolutely nothing: you have to see “naturally raised” or “raised entirely without antibiotics/hormones” to get the right thing. Or you can buy branded beef like Niman Ranch Prime (Niman is a true all-natural brand) or Certified Angus Beef Natural Prime (the Natural label is a subset of Certified Angus Beef brand). You almost certainly won’t find dry aged beef, the best of the best, at the supermarket. This kind of steak has to be bought at a specialized butcher or mail ordered from a top retailer like Debragga & Spitler, a New York area shop that supplies top fine dining restaurants but sells direct to consumers as well.

Use Really High Heat: There are many different styles of cooking steak, from gas and charcoal grills to frying pans to oven broilers to wood burning pizza ovens. But no matter which you choose, at home you want to go really hot. Most high-end steakhouses have special broilers or infra-red cookers that go way above 800 degrees, something your home oven cannot do. “The biggest tip is as high heat as you can get, whether on the grill outside or in a cast iron pan,” said Matthew King, Corporate Executive Chef for Smith & Wollensky steakhouses. “I’m going to cook it in the restaurant under a 1200-degree broiler for instant char. Nobody has that at home - I don’t and I’d love to.” The single easiest way for most home cooks to mirror steakhouse searing results is by using an old-fashioned cast iron pan, which retains heat better than newer materials. Let the pan get really hot before the steak goes in, sitting empty on high heat for at least 5-minutes, then add the steak and cook it long enough to get a good sear, about 3-minutes. Flip it, get another good sear, then move the whole pan into a 400-degree preheated oven and use a meat thermometer to finish (115°-120° in the thickest part for rare to medium-rare). This method runs counterintuitive to what most home cooks do, but is nearly foolproof and works so well that when celebrity chef siblings Bryan and Michael Voltaggio opened their Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse in the new MGM National Harbor casino hotel outside Washington, DC, they skipped the fancy commercial broilers altogether and stuck with the cast iron skillet method. You can get fairly high temps on an outdoor grill, but you must keep it closed and avoid the temptation to check on your meat or flip over and over. Every time you raise the lid the temperature drops precipitously and you need not flip more than once. After the second char, “Be prepared with indirect heat,” says Chef Dan Huebschmann of Chicago’s famed Gibson’s steakhouse. “People char the crap out of their meat. Have the option to move it to a part of the grill that’s off the flame to continue cooking, the same idea as finishing the cast iron pan in the oven.”

Over-Season: Restaurateur, author, James Beard Award winner for Best Chef and Emmy award winning TV host Ming Tsai once told me, “the only thing worse than using too much salt is not using enough.” Chef Walzog concurred: “You want to over season.” When it comes to steaks, aggressively coat the outside with your seasoning of choice, from basic salt (flaky or coarse sea salt) and pepper (always use fresh ground peppercorns!) to more complex spice rubs. This is going to help you develop the seared crust you want, while good quality red meat (see Tip #2) is a big dish that can stand up to lots of seasoning - and if you followed Tip #1 and went thick, you are still getting a large ratio of unseasoned interior to exterior crust in every bite.

Let It Rest: Home cooks have trouble believing what top chefs know as scripture, that letting the steak sit for at least 5 and ideally 10-minutes between cooking and serving improves the taste. The authors of one of the all-time great carnivore cookbooks, the River Cottage Meat Book from acclaimed UK farm to table butchery restaurant River Cottage, studied and taste tested the results extensively and documented how important resting is. The Food Lab at website SeriousEats took a more scientific approach and found that the exterior temperature of the cooked steak shortens the muscle fibers and forces liquid - aka juices - into the cooler center, so when you cut a just cooked steak, it spills out, literally leaving much of the most desirable flavor and juiciness on the cutting board or plate. Resting for 5-minutes let the exterior cool enough to start drawing the juices more evenly throughout the steak, but after 10-minutes, there was almost no spillage. We worry about things getting cold and often rush steaks onto a plate already loaded with sides and serve. but this is just flat out wrong. Not only will the steak taste better ten minutes later but it won’t get cold, as the steak keeps cooking after you take it off, typically rising 3-5°, so if anything, it should be pulled early and rested for a perfect result.


5 Expert Steak Tips: How You Can Cook A Perfect Steak Every Time

Summer is coming, and with it backyard grilling season. But you don’t have to cook outside to enjoy perfect steak: you just have to know some industry secrets. After years of writing on meat, steakhouses and grilling, I’ve compiled some of the best advice I’ve received from the chefs and experts that know red meat inside and out. Cooking a great steak every time should not be that hard, but we tend to over-complicate it with a few classic errors. Here is the cheat sheet of steak greatness.

Start With The Right Cut: When it comes to cooking red meat, thicker is better. It is no coincidence that the world’s best steakhouses often feature cuts for two like big porterhouse or T-bones. Thickness is a main reason why filet mignon remains such a popular cut despite being one of the least flavorful pieces of meat. The perfect steak is seared outside and rare in the center, and that is just a lot easier to do with thicker steaks. By the time you get a perfect sear on both sides of a thin steak, it is often gray all the way through. SW Steakhouse in the Wynn Las Vegas is easily one of the very best in the nation, and the question longtime chef David Walzog gets asked the most is how to cook the perfect steak at home. “Everyone wants their own steak, but at home it’s better to buy a thicker steak and split it. There’s a huge margin of error in cooking thin steaks, and if your meat guy has Prime, you’re probably going to pay $30 a pound for it, so splurge - it’s hard to screw up a thick steak. The difference between a 10-ounce strip that’s three quarters of an inch thick and a 16-ounce one that's an inch and a half is huge. That’s the best advice I have - buy the best meat but get it thicker.”

Start With the Right Meat: These days you can pay between $3 and $35 (or more) a pound for domestic beef, but there are two sweet spots in this spectrum, one for value and one for indulgence. To consumers, there are just three labelled USDA grades, Select, Choice and Prime, but there are actually eleven. Choice spans three levels, but the top tier has twice as much desirable marbling as the bottom, and two thirds of steak graded Choice falls into the lowest rung. The top third, known as “high Choice,” gets picked off by restaurants and special USDA branded private label programs, leaving most supermarket counters with the bottom two thirds. In recent years, there has been a big move on both restaurant menus and in stores to branded steaks limited to the upper third of Choice quality, and these rival entry level Prime at half the price. Look for names that cherry-pick high Choice like Certified Angus Beef, Niman Ranch and Creekstone Ranch, as this category represents the best bang for the buck in red meat.

If money is no object, you want Prime, but not all Prime beef is the same, especially in recent years as the amount has been greatly expanded by maneuvers such as butchering dairy cows, which are fattier but less tasty (USDA grading basically relies entirely on marbling appearance, and not at all on flavor). If you are going to pay for Prime, go all the way and get beef that is naturally raised and ideally dry aged, the single best thing that can be done to improve red meat. Dry aging evaporates out about 10% of the meat weight, all in water, leaving more concentrated rich meat flavor behind. Naturally raised beef, without antibiotics, steroids and growth hormones, is not just for people who want to avoid ingesting drugs - cattle raised this way grow slower and are butchered older, which often means more flavor. But the word “natural” alone means absolutely nothing: you have to see “naturally raised” or “raised entirely without antibiotics/hormones” to get the right thing. Or you can buy branded beef like Niman Ranch Prime (Niman is a true all-natural brand) or Certified Angus Beef Natural Prime (the Natural label is a subset of Certified Angus Beef brand). You almost certainly won’t find dry aged beef, the best of the best, at the supermarket. This kind of steak has to be bought at a specialized butcher or mail ordered from a top retailer like Debragga & Spitler, a New York area shop that supplies top fine dining restaurants but sells direct to consumers as well.

Use Really High Heat: There are many different styles of cooking steak, from gas and charcoal grills to frying pans to oven broilers to wood burning pizza ovens. But no matter which you choose, at home you want to go really hot. Most high-end steakhouses have special broilers or infra-red cookers that go way above 800 degrees, something your home oven cannot do. “The biggest tip is as high heat as you can get, whether on the grill outside or in a cast iron pan,” said Matthew King, Corporate Executive Chef for Smith & Wollensky steakhouses. “I’m going to cook it in the restaurant under a 1200-degree broiler for instant char. Nobody has that at home - I don’t and I’d love to.” The single easiest way for most home cooks to mirror steakhouse searing results is by using an old-fashioned cast iron pan, which retains heat better than newer materials. Let the pan get really hot before the steak goes in, sitting empty on high heat for at least 5-minutes, then add the steak and cook it long enough to get a good sear, about 3-minutes. Flip it, get another good sear, then move the whole pan into a 400-degree preheated oven and use a meat thermometer to finish (115°-120° in the thickest part for rare to medium-rare). This method runs counterintuitive to what most home cooks do, but is nearly foolproof and works so well that when celebrity chef siblings Bryan and Michael Voltaggio opened their Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse in the new MGM National Harbor casino hotel outside Washington, DC, they skipped the fancy commercial broilers altogether and stuck with the cast iron skillet method. You can get fairly high temps on an outdoor grill, but you must keep it closed and avoid the temptation to check on your meat or flip over and over. Every time you raise the lid the temperature drops precipitously and you need not flip more than once. After the second char, “Be prepared with indirect heat,” says Chef Dan Huebschmann of Chicago’s famed Gibson’s steakhouse. “People char the crap out of their meat. Have the option to move it to a part of the grill that’s off the flame to continue cooking, the same idea as finishing the cast iron pan in the oven.”

Over-Season: Restaurateur, author, James Beard Award winner for Best Chef and Emmy award winning TV host Ming Tsai once told me, “the only thing worse than using too much salt is not using enough.” Chef Walzog concurred: “You want to over season.” When it comes to steaks, aggressively coat the outside with your seasoning of choice, from basic salt (flaky or coarse sea salt) and pepper (always use fresh ground peppercorns!) to more complex spice rubs. This is going to help you develop the seared crust you want, while good quality red meat (see Tip #2) is a big dish that can stand up to lots of seasoning - and if you followed Tip #1 and went thick, you are still getting a large ratio of unseasoned interior to exterior crust in every bite.

Let It Rest: Home cooks have trouble believing what top chefs know as scripture, that letting the steak sit for at least 5 and ideally 10-minutes between cooking and serving improves the taste. The authors of one of the all-time great carnivore cookbooks, the River Cottage Meat Book from acclaimed UK farm to table butchery restaurant River Cottage, studied and taste tested the results extensively and documented how important resting is. The Food Lab at website SeriousEats took a more scientific approach and found that the exterior temperature of the cooked steak shortens the muscle fibers and forces liquid - aka juices - into the cooler center, so when you cut a just cooked steak, it spills out, literally leaving much of the most desirable flavor and juiciness on the cutting board or plate. Resting for 5-minutes let the exterior cool enough to start drawing the juices more evenly throughout the steak, but after 10-minutes, there was almost no spillage. We worry about things getting cold and often rush steaks onto a plate already loaded with sides and serve. but this is just flat out wrong. Not only will the steak taste better ten minutes later but it won’t get cold, as the steak keeps cooking after you take it off, typically rising 3-5°, so if anything, it should be pulled early and rested for a perfect result.


5 Expert Steak Tips: How You Can Cook A Perfect Steak Every Time

Summer is coming, and with it backyard grilling season. But you don’t have to cook outside to enjoy perfect steak: you just have to know some industry secrets. After years of writing on meat, steakhouses and grilling, I’ve compiled some of the best advice I’ve received from the chefs and experts that know red meat inside and out. Cooking a great steak every time should not be that hard, but we tend to over-complicate it with a few classic errors. Here is the cheat sheet of steak greatness.

Start With The Right Cut: When it comes to cooking red meat, thicker is better. It is no coincidence that the world’s best steakhouses often feature cuts for two like big porterhouse or T-bones. Thickness is a main reason why filet mignon remains such a popular cut despite being one of the least flavorful pieces of meat. The perfect steak is seared outside and rare in the center, and that is just a lot easier to do with thicker steaks. By the time you get a perfect sear on both sides of a thin steak, it is often gray all the way through. SW Steakhouse in the Wynn Las Vegas is easily one of the very best in the nation, and the question longtime chef David Walzog gets asked the most is how to cook the perfect steak at home. “Everyone wants their own steak, but at home it’s better to buy a thicker steak and split it. There’s a huge margin of error in cooking thin steaks, and if your meat guy has Prime, you’re probably going to pay $30 a pound for it, so splurge - it’s hard to screw up a thick steak. The difference between a 10-ounce strip that’s three quarters of an inch thick and a 16-ounce one that's an inch and a half is huge. That’s the best advice I have - buy the best meat but get it thicker.”

Start With the Right Meat: These days you can pay between $3 and $35 (or more) a pound for domestic beef, but there are two sweet spots in this spectrum, one for value and one for indulgence. To consumers, there are just three labelled USDA grades, Select, Choice and Prime, but there are actually eleven. Choice spans three levels, but the top tier has twice as much desirable marbling as the bottom, and two thirds of steak graded Choice falls into the lowest rung. The top third, known as “high Choice,” gets picked off by restaurants and special USDA branded private label programs, leaving most supermarket counters with the bottom two thirds. In recent years, there has been a big move on both restaurant menus and in stores to branded steaks limited to the upper third of Choice quality, and these rival entry level Prime at half the price. Look for names that cherry-pick high Choice like Certified Angus Beef, Niman Ranch and Creekstone Ranch, as this category represents the best bang for the buck in red meat.

If money is no object, you want Prime, but not all Prime beef is the same, especially in recent years as the amount has been greatly expanded by maneuvers such as butchering dairy cows, which are fattier but less tasty (USDA grading basically relies entirely on marbling appearance, and not at all on flavor). If you are going to pay for Prime, go all the way and get beef that is naturally raised and ideally dry aged, the single best thing that can be done to improve red meat. Dry aging evaporates out about 10% of the meat weight, all in water, leaving more concentrated rich meat flavor behind. Naturally raised beef, without antibiotics, steroids and growth hormones, is not just for people who want to avoid ingesting drugs - cattle raised this way grow slower and are butchered older, which often means more flavor. But the word “natural” alone means absolutely nothing: you have to see “naturally raised” or “raised entirely without antibiotics/hormones” to get the right thing. Or you can buy branded beef like Niman Ranch Prime (Niman is a true all-natural brand) or Certified Angus Beef Natural Prime (the Natural label is a subset of Certified Angus Beef brand). You almost certainly won’t find dry aged beef, the best of the best, at the supermarket. This kind of steak has to be bought at a specialized butcher or mail ordered from a top retailer like Debragga & Spitler, a New York area shop that supplies top fine dining restaurants but sells direct to consumers as well.

Use Really High Heat: There are many different styles of cooking steak, from gas and charcoal grills to frying pans to oven broilers to wood burning pizza ovens. But no matter which you choose, at home you want to go really hot. Most high-end steakhouses have special broilers or infra-red cookers that go way above 800 degrees, something your home oven cannot do. “The biggest tip is as high heat as you can get, whether on the grill outside or in a cast iron pan,” said Matthew King, Corporate Executive Chef for Smith & Wollensky steakhouses. “I’m going to cook it in the restaurant under a 1200-degree broiler for instant char. Nobody has that at home - I don’t and I’d love to.” The single easiest way for most home cooks to mirror steakhouse searing results is by using an old-fashioned cast iron pan, which retains heat better than newer materials. Let the pan get really hot before the steak goes in, sitting empty on high heat for at least 5-minutes, then add the steak and cook it long enough to get a good sear, about 3-minutes. Flip it, get another good sear, then move the whole pan into a 400-degree preheated oven and use a meat thermometer to finish (115°-120° in the thickest part for rare to medium-rare). This method runs counterintuitive to what most home cooks do, but is nearly foolproof and works so well that when celebrity chef siblings Bryan and Michael Voltaggio opened their Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse in the new MGM National Harbor casino hotel outside Washington, DC, they skipped the fancy commercial broilers altogether and stuck with the cast iron skillet method. You can get fairly high temps on an outdoor grill, but you must keep it closed and avoid the temptation to check on your meat or flip over and over. Every time you raise the lid the temperature drops precipitously and you need not flip more than once. After the second char, “Be prepared with indirect heat,” says Chef Dan Huebschmann of Chicago’s famed Gibson’s steakhouse. “People char the crap out of their meat. Have the option to move it to a part of the grill that’s off the flame to continue cooking, the same idea as finishing the cast iron pan in the oven.”

Over-Season: Restaurateur, author, James Beard Award winner for Best Chef and Emmy award winning TV host Ming Tsai once told me, “the only thing worse than using too much salt is not using enough.” Chef Walzog concurred: “You want to over season.” When it comes to steaks, aggressively coat the outside with your seasoning of choice, from basic salt (flaky or coarse sea salt) and pepper (always use fresh ground peppercorns!) to more complex spice rubs. This is going to help you develop the seared crust you want, while good quality red meat (see Tip #2) is a big dish that can stand up to lots of seasoning - and if you followed Tip #1 and went thick, you are still getting a large ratio of unseasoned interior to exterior crust in every bite.

Let It Rest: Home cooks have trouble believing what top chefs know as scripture, that letting the steak sit for at least 5 and ideally 10-minutes between cooking and serving improves the taste. The authors of one of the all-time great carnivore cookbooks, the River Cottage Meat Book from acclaimed UK farm to table butchery restaurant River Cottage, studied and taste tested the results extensively and documented how important resting is. The Food Lab at website SeriousEats took a more scientific approach and found that the exterior temperature of the cooked steak shortens the muscle fibers and forces liquid - aka juices - into the cooler center, so when you cut a just cooked steak, it spills out, literally leaving much of the most desirable flavor and juiciness on the cutting board or plate. Resting for 5-minutes let the exterior cool enough to start drawing the juices more evenly throughout the steak, but after 10-minutes, there was almost no spillage. We worry about things getting cold and often rush steaks onto a plate already loaded with sides and serve. but this is just flat out wrong. Not only will the steak taste better ten minutes later but it won’t get cold, as the steak keeps cooking after you take it off, typically rising 3-5°, so if anything, it should be pulled early and rested for a perfect result.


5 Expert Steak Tips: How You Can Cook A Perfect Steak Every Time

Summer is coming, and with it backyard grilling season. But you don’t have to cook outside to enjoy perfect steak: you just have to know some industry secrets. After years of writing on meat, steakhouses and grilling, I’ve compiled some of the best advice I’ve received from the chefs and experts that know red meat inside and out. Cooking a great steak every time should not be that hard, but we tend to over-complicate it with a few classic errors. Here is the cheat sheet of steak greatness.

Start With The Right Cut: When it comes to cooking red meat, thicker is better. It is no coincidence that the world’s best steakhouses often feature cuts for two like big porterhouse or T-bones. Thickness is a main reason why filet mignon remains such a popular cut despite being one of the least flavorful pieces of meat. The perfect steak is seared outside and rare in the center, and that is just a lot easier to do with thicker steaks. By the time you get a perfect sear on both sides of a thin steak, it is often gray all the way through. SW Steakhouse in the Wynn Las Vegas is easily one of the very best in the nation, and the question longtime chef David Walzog gets asked the most is how to cook the perfect steak at home. “Everyone wants their own steak, but at home it’s better to buy a thicker steak and split it. There’s a huge margin of error in cooking thin steaks, and if your meat guy has Prime, you’re probably going to pay $30 a pound for it, so splurge - it’s hard to screw up a thick steak. The difference between a 10-ounce strip that’s three quarters of an inch thick and a 16-ounce one that's an inch and a half is huge. That’s the best advice I have - buy the best meat but get it thicker.”

Start With the Right Meat: These days you can pay between $3 and $35 (or more) a pound for domestic beef, but there are two sweet spots in this spectrum, one for value and one for indulgence. To consumers, there are just three labelled USDA grades, Select, Choice and Prime, but there are actually eleven. Choice spans three levels, but the top tier has twice as much desirable marbling as the bottom, and two thirds of steak graded Choice falls into the lowest rung. The top third, known as “high Choice,” gets picked off by restaurants and special USDA branded private label programs, leaving most supermarket counters with the bottom two thirds. In recent years, there has been a big move on both restaurant menus and in stores to branded steaks limited to the upper third of Choice quality, and these rival entry level Prime at half the price. Look for names that cherry-pick high Choice like Certified Angus Beef, Niman Ranch and Creekstone Ranch, as this category represents the best bang for the buck in red meat.

If money is no object, you want Prime, but not all Prime beef is the same, especially in recent years as the amount has been greatly expanded by maneuvers such as butchering dairy cows, which are fattier but less tasty (USDA grading basically relies entirely on marbling appearance, and not at all on flavor). If you are going to pay for Prime, go all the way and get beef that is naturally raised and ideally dry aged, the single best thing that can be done to improve red meat. Dry aging evaporates out about 10% of the meat weight, all in water, leaving more concentrated rich meat flavor behind. Naturally raised beef, without antibiotics, steroids and growth hormones, is not just for people who want to avoid ingesting drugs - cattle raised this way grow slower and are butchered older, which often means more flavor. But the word “natural” alone means absolutely nothing: you have to see “naturally raised” or “raised entirely without antibiotics/hormones” to get the right thing. Or you can buy branded beef like Niman Ranch Prime (Niman is a true all-natural brand) or Certified Angus Beef Natural Prime (the Natural label is a subset of Certified Angus Beef brand). You almost certainly won’t find dry aged beef, the best of the best, at the supermarket. This kind of steak has to be bought at a specialized butcher or mail ordered from a top retailer like Debragga & Spitler, a New York area shop that supplies top fine dining restaurants but sells direct to consumers as well.

Use Really High Heat: There are many different styles of cooking steak, from gas and charcoal grills to frying pans to oven broilers to wood burning pizza ovens. But no matter which you choose, at home you want to go really hot. Most high-end steakhouses have special broilers or infra-red cookers that go way above 800 degrees, something your home oven cannot do. “The biggest tip is as high heat as you can get, whether on the grill outside or in a cast iron pan,” said Matthew King, Corporate Executive Chef for Smith & Wollensky steakhouses. “I’m going to cook it in the restaurant under a 1200-degree broiler for instant char. Nobody has that at home - I don’t and I’d love to.” The single easiest way for most home cooks to mirror steakhouse searing results is by using an old-fashioned cast iron pan, which retains heat better than newer materials. Let the pan get really hot before the steak goes in, sitting empty on high heat for at least 5-minutes, then add the steak and cook it long enough to get a good sear, about 3-minutes. Flip it, get another good sear, then move the whole pan into a 400-degree preheated oven and use a meat thermometer to finish (115°-120° in the thickest part for rare to medium-rare). This method runs counterintuitive to what most home cooks do, but is nearly foolproof and works so well that when celebrity chef siblings Bryan and Michael Voltaggio opened their Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse in the new MGM National Harbor casino hotel outside Washington, DC, they skipped the fancy commercial broilers altogether and stuck with the cast iron skillet method. You can get fairly high temps on an outdoor grill, but you must keep it closed and avoid the temptation to check on your meat or flip over and over. Every time you raise the lid the temperature drops precipitously and you need not flip more than once. After the second char, “Be prepared with indirect heat,” says Chef Dan Huebschmann of Chicago’s famed Gibson’s steakhouse. “People char the crap out of their meat. Have the option to move it to a part of the grill that’s off the flame to continue cooking, the same idea as finishing the cast iron pan in the oven.”

Over-Season: Restaurateur, author, James Beard Award winner for Best Chef and Emmy award winning TV host Ming Tsai once told me, “the only thing worse than using too much salt is not using enough.” Chef Walzog concurred: “You want to over season.” When it comes to steaks, aggressively coat the outside with your seasoning of choice, from basic salt (flaky or coarse sea salt) and pepper (always use fresh ground peppercorns!) to more complex spice rubs. This is going to help you develop the seared crust you want, while good quality red meat (see Tip #2) is a big dish that can stand up to lots of seasoning - and if you followed Tip #1 and went thick, you are still getting a large ratio of unseasoned interior to exterior crust in every bite.

Let It Rest: Home cooks have trouble believing what top chefs know as scripture, that letting the steak sit for at least 5 and ideally 10-minutes between cooking and serving improves the taste. The authors of one of the all-time great carnivore cookbooks, the River Cottage Meat Book from acclaimed UK farm to table butchery restaurant River Cottage, studied and taste tested the results extensively and documented how important resting is. The Food Lab at website SeriousEats took a more scientific approach and found that the exterior temperature of the cooked steak shortens the muscle fibers and forces liquid - aka juices - into the cooler center, so when you cut a just cooked steak, it spills out, literally leaving much of the most desirable flavor and juiciness on the cutting board or plate. Resting for 5-minutes let the exterior cool enough to start drawing the juices more evenly throughout the steak, but after 10-minutes, there was almost no spillage. We worry about things getting cold and often rush steaks onto a plate already loaded with sides and serve. but this is just flat out wrong. Not only will the steak taste better ten minutes later but it won’t get cold, as the steak keeps cooking after you take it off, typically rising 3-5°, so if anything, it should be pulled early and rested for a perfect result.


5 Expert Steak Tips: How You Can Cook A Perfect Steak Every Time

Summer is coming, and with it backyard grilling season. But you don’t have to cook outside to enjoy perfect steak: you just have to know some industry secrets. After years of writing on meat, steakhouses and grilling, I’ve compiled some of the best advice I’ve received from the chefs and experts that know red meat inside and out. Cooking a great steak every time should not be that hard, but we tend to over-complicate it with a few classic errors. Here is the cheat sheet of steak greatness.

Start With The Right Cut: When it comes to cooking red meat, thicker is better. It is no coincidence that the world’s best steakhouses often feature cuts for two like big porterhouse or T-bones. Thickness is a main reason why filet mignon remains such a popular cut despite being one of the least flavorful pieces of meat. The perfect steak is seared outside and rare in the center, and that is just a lot easier to do with thicker steaks. By the time you get a perfect sear on both sides of a thin steak, it is often gray all the way through. SW Steakhouse in the Wynn Las Vegas is easily one of the very best in the nation, and the question longtime chef David Walzog gets asked the most is how to cook the perfect steak at home. “Everyone wants their own steak, but at home it’s better to buy a thicker steak and split it. There’s a huge margin of error in cooking thin steaks, and if your meat guy has Prime, you’re probably going to pay $30 a pound for it, so splurge - it’s hard to screw up a thick steak. The difference between a 10-ounce strip that’s three quarters of an inch thick and a 16-ounce one that's an inch and a half is huge. That’s the best advice I have - buy the best meat but get it thicker.”

Start With the Right Meat: These days you can pay between $3 and $35 (or more) a pound for domestic beef, but there are two sweet spots in this spectrum, one for value and one for indulgence. To consumers, there are just three labelled USDA grades, Select, Choice and Prime, but there are actually eleven. Choice spans three levels, but the top tier has twice as much desirable marbling as the bottom, and two thirds of steak graded Choice falls into the lowest rung. The top third, known as “high Choice,” gets picked off by restaurants and special USDA branded private label programs, leaving most supermarket counters with the bottom two thirds. In recent years, there has been a big move on both restaurant menus and in stores to branded steaks limited to the upper third of Choice quality, and these rival entry level Prime at half the price. Look for names that cherry-pick high Choice like Certified Angus Beef, Niman Ranch and Creekstone Ranch, as this category represents the best bang for the buck in red meat.

If money is no object, you want Prime, but not all Prime beef is the same, especially in recent years as the amount has been greatly expanded by maneuvers such as butchering dairy cows, which are fattier but less tasty (USDA grading basically relies entirely on marbling appearance, and not at all on flavor). If you are going to pay for Prime, go all the way and get beef that is naturally raised and ideally dry aged, the single best thing that can be done to improve red meat. Dry aging evaporates out about 10% of the meat weight, all in water, leaving more concentrated rich meat flavor behind. Naturally raised beef, without antibiotics, steroids and growth hormones, is not just for people who want to avoid ingesting drugs - cattle raised this way grow slower and are butchered older, which often means more flavor. But the word “natural” alone means absolutely nothing: you have to see “naturally raised” or “raised entirely without antibiotics/hormones” to get the right thing. Or you can buy branded beef like Niman Ranch Prime (Niman is a true all-natural brand) or Certified Angus Beef Natural Prime (the Natural label is a subset of Certified Angus Beef brand). You almost certainly won’t find dry aged beef, the best of the best, at the supermarket. This kind of steak has to be bought at a specialized butcher or mail ordered from a top retailer like Debragga & Spitler, a New York area shop that supplies top fine dining restaurants but sells direct to consumers as well.

Use Really High Heat: There are many different styles of cooking steak, from gas and charcoal grills to frying pans to oven broilers to wood burning pizza ovens. But no matter which you choose, at home you want to go really hot. Most high-end steakhouses have special broilers or infra-red cookers that go way above 800 degrees, something your home oven cannot do. “The biggest tip is as high heat as you can get, whether on the grill outside or in a cast iron pan,” said Matthew King, Corporate Executive Chef for Smith & Wollensky steakhouses. “I’m going to cook it in the restaurant under a 1200-degree broiler for instant char. Nobody has that at home - I don’t and I’d love to.” The single easiest way for most home cooks to mirror steakhouse searing results is by using an old-fashioned cast iron pan, which retains heat better than newer materials. Let the pan get really hot before the steak goes in, sitting empty on high heat for at least 5-minutes, then add the steak and cook it long enough to get a good sear, about 3-minutes. Flip it, get another good sear, then move the whole pan into a 400-degree preheated oven and use a meat thermometer to finish (115°-120° in the thickest part for rare to medium-rare). This method runs counterintuitive to what most home cooks do, but is nearly foolproof and works so well that when celebrity chef siblings Bryan and Michael Voltaggio opened their Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse in the new MGM National Harbor casino hotel outside Washington, DC, they skipped the fancy commercial broilers altogether and stuck with the cast iron skillet method. You can get fairly high temps on an outdoor grill, but you must keep it closed and avoid the temptation to check on your meat or flip over and over. Every time you raise the lid the temperature drops precipitously and you need not flip more than once. After the second char, “Be prepared with indirect heat,” says Chef Dan Huebschmann of Chicago’s famed Gibson’s steakhouse. “People char the crap out of their meat. Have the option to move it to a part of the grill that’s off the flame to continue cooking, the same idea as finishing the cast iron pan in the oven.”

Over-Season: Restaurateur, author, James Beard Award winner for Best Chef and Emmy award winning TV host Ming Tsai once told me, “the only thing worse than using too much salt is not using enough.” Chef Walzog concurred: “You want to over season.” When it comes to steaks, aggressively coat the outside with your seasoning of choice, from basic salt (flaky or coarse sea salt) and pepper (always use fresh ground peppercorns!) to more complex spice rubs. This is going to help you develop the seared crust you want, while good quality red meat (see Tip #2) is a big dish that can stand up to lots of seasoning - and if you followed Tip #1 and went thick, you are still getting a large ratio of unseasoned interior to exterior crust in every bite.

Let It Rest: Home cooks have trouble believing what top chefs know as scripture, that letting the steak sit for at least 5 and ideally 10-minutes between cooking and serving improves the taste. The authors of one of the all-time great carnivore cookbooks, the River Cottage Meat Book from acclaimed UK farm to table butchery restaurant River Cottage, studied and taste tested the results extensively and documented how important resting is. The Food Lab at website SeriousEats took a more scientific approach and found that the exterior temperature of the cooked steak shortens the muscle fibers and forces liquid - aka juices - into the cooler center, so when you cut a just cooked steak, it spills out, literally leaving much of the most desirable flavor and juiciness on the cutting board or plate. Resting for 5-minutes let the exterior cool enough to start drawing the juices more evenly throughout the steak, but after 10-minutes, there was almost no spillage. We worry about things getting cold and often rush steaks onto a plate already loaded with sides and serve. but this is just flat out wrong. Not only will the steak taste better ten minutes later but it won’t get cold, as the steak keeps cooking after you take it off, typically rising 3-5°, so if anything, it should be pulled early and rested for a perfect result.


5 Expert Steak Tips: How You Can Cook A Perfect Steak Every Time

Summer is coming, and with it backyard grilling season. But you don’t have to cook outside to enjoy perfect steak: you just have to know some industry secrets. After years of writing on meat, steakhouses and grilling, I’ve compiled some of the best advice I’ve received from the chefs and experts that know red meat inside and out. Cooking a great steak every time should not be that hard, but we tend to over-complicate it with a few classic errors. Here is the cheat sheet of steak greatness.

Start With The Right Cut: When it comes to cooking red meat, thicker is better. It is no coincidence that the world’s best steakhouses often feature cuts for two like big porterhouse or T-bones. Thickness is a main reason why filet mignon remains such a popular cut despite being one of the least flavorful pieces of meat. The perfect steak is seared outside and rare in the center, and that is just a lot easier to do with thicker steaks. By the time you get a perfect sear on both sides of a thin steak, it is often gray all the way through. SW Steakhouse in the Wynn Las Vegas is easily one of the very best in the nation, and the question longtime chef David Walzog gets asked the most is how to cook the perfect steak at home. “Everyone wants their own steak, but at home it’s better to buy a thicker steak and split it. There’s a huge margin of error in cooking thin steaks, and if your meat guy has Prime, you’re probably going to pay $30 a pound for it, so splurge - it’s hard to screw up a thick steak. The difference between a 10-ounce strip that’s three quarters of an inch thick and a 16-ounce one that's an inch and a half is huge. That’s the best advice I have - buy the best meat but get it thicker.”

Start With the Right Meat: These days you can pay between $3 and $35 (or more) a pound for domestic beef, but there are two sweet spots in this spectrum, one for value and one for indulgence. To consumers, there are just three labelled USDA grades, Select, Choice and Prime, but there are actually eleven. Choice spans three levels, but the top tier has twice as much desirable marbling as the bottom, and two thirds of steak graded Choice falls into the lowest rung. The top third, known as “high Choice,” gets picked off by restaurants and special USDA branded private label programs, leaving most supermarket counters with the bottom two thirds. In recent years, there has been a big move on both restaurant menus and in stores to branded steaks limited to the upper third of Choice quality, and these rival entry level Prime at half the price. Look for names that cherry-pick high Choice like Certified Angus Beef, Niman Ranch and Creekstone Ranch, as this category represents the best bang for the buck in red meat.

If money is no object, you want Prime, but not all Prime beef is the same, especially in recent years as the amount has been greatly expanded by maneuvers such as butchering dairy cows, which are fattier but less tasty (USDA grading basically relies entirely on marbling appearance, and not at all on flavor). If you are going to pay for Prime, go all the way and get beef that is naturally raised and ideally dry aged, the single best thing that can be done to improve red meat. Dry aging evaporates out about 10% of the meat weight, all in water, leaving more concentrated rich meat flavor behind. Naturally raised beef, without antibiotics, steroids and growth hormones, is not just for people who want to avoid ingesting drugs - cattle raised this way grow slower and are butchered older, which often means more flavor. But the word “natural” alone means absolutely nothing: you have to see “naturally raised” or “raised entirely without antibiotics/hormones” to get the right thing. Or you can buy branded beef like Niman Ranch Prime (Niman is a true all-natural brand) or Certified Angus Beef Natural Prime (the Natural label is a subset of Certified Angus Beef brand). You almost certainly won’t find dry aged beef, the best of the best, at the supermarket. This kind of steak has to be bought at a specialized butcher or mail ordered from a top retailer like Debragga & Spitler, a New York area shop that supplies top fine dining restaurants but sells direct to consumers as well.

Use Really High Heat: There are many different styles of cooking steak, from gas and charcoal grills to frying pans to oven broilers to wood burning pizza ovens. But no matter which you choose, at home you want to go really hot. Most high-end steakhouses have special broilers or infra-red cookers that go way above 800 degrees, something your home oven cannot do. “The biggest tip is as high heat as you can get, whether on the grill outside or in a cast iron pan,” said Matthew King, Corporate Executive Chef for Smith & Wollensky steakhouses. “I’m going to cook it in the restaurant under a 1200-degree broiler for instant char. Nobody has that at home - I don’t and I’d love to.” The single easiest way for most home cooks to mirror steakhouse searing results is by using an old-fashioned cast iron pan, which retains heat better than newer materials. Let the pan get really hot before the steak goes in, sitting empty on high heat for at least 5-minutes, then add the steak and cook it long enough to get a good sear, about 3-minutes. Flip it, get another good sear, then move the whole pan into a 400-degree preheated oven and use a meat thermometer to finish (115°-120° in the thickest part for rare to medium-rare). This method runs counterintuitive to what most home cooks do, but is nearly foolproof and works so well that when celebrity chef siblings Bryan and Michael Voltaggio opened their Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse in the new MGM National Harbor casino hotel outside Washington, DC, they skipped the fancy commercial broilers altogether and stuck with the cast iron skillet method. You can get fairly high temps on an outdoor grill, but you must keep it closed and avoid the temptation to check on your meat or flip over and over. Every time you raise the lid the temperature drops precipitously and you need not flip more than once. After the second char, “Be prepared with indirect heat,” says Chef Dan Huebschmann of Chicago’s famed Gibson’s steakhouse. “People char the crap out of their meat. Have the option to move it to a part of the grill that’s off the flame to continue cooking, the same idea as finishing the cast iron pan in the oven.”

Over-Season: Restaurateur, author, James Beard Award winner for Best Chef and Emmy award winning TV host Ming Tsai once told me, “the only thing worse than using too much salt is not using enough.” Chef Walzog concurred: “You want to over season.” When it comes to steaks, aggressively coat the outside with your seasoning of choice, from basic salt (flaky or coarse sea salt) and pepper (always use fresh ground peppercorns!) to more complex spice rubs. This is going to help you develop the seared crust you want, while good quality red meat (see Tip #2) is a big dish that can stand up to lots of seasoning - and if you followed Tip #1 and went thick, you are still getting a large ratio of unseasoned interior to exterior crust in every bite.

Let It Rest: Home cooks have trouble believing what top chefs know as scripture, that letting the steak sit for at least 5 and ideally 10-minutes between cooking and serving improves the taste. The authors of one of the all-time great carnivore cookbooks, the River Cottage Meat Book from acclaimed UK farm to table butchery restaurant River Cottage, studied and taste tested the results extensively and documented how important resting is. The Food Lab at website SeriousEats took a more scientific approach and found that the exterior temperature of the cooked steak shortens the muscle fibers and forces liquid - aka juices - into the cooler center, so when you cut a just cooked steak, it spills out, literally leaving much of the most desirable flavor and juiciness on the cutting board or plate. Resting for 5-minutes let the exterior cool enough to start drawing the juices more evenly throughout the steak, but after 10-minutes, there was almost no spillage. We worry about things getting cold and often rush steaks onto a plate already loaded with sides and serve. but this is just flat out wrong. Not only will the steak taste better ten minutes later but it won’t get cold, as the steak keeps cooking after you take it off, typically rising 3-5°, so if anything, it should be pulled early and rested for a perfect result.


5 Expert Steak Tips: How You Can Cook A Perfect Steak Every Time

Summer is coming, and with it backyard grilling season. But you don’t have to cook outside to enjoy perfect steak: you just have to know some industry secrets. After years of writing on meat, steakhouses and grilling, I’ve compiled some of the best advice I’ve received from the chefs and experts that know red meat inside and out. Cooking a great steak every time should not be that hard, but we tend to over-complicate it with a few classic errors. Here is the cheat sheet of steak greatness.

Start With The Right Cut: When it comes to cooking red meat, thicker is better. It is no coincidence that the world’s best steakhouses often feature cuts for two like big porterhouse or T-bones. Thickness is a main reason why filet mignon remains such a popular cut despite being one of the least flavorful pieces of meat. The perfect steak is seared outside and rare in the center, and that is just a lot easier to do with thicker steaks. By the time you get a perfect sear on both sides of a thin steak, it is often gray all the way through. SW Steakhouse in the Wynn Las Vegas is easily one of the very best in the nation, and the question longtime chef David Walzog gets asked the most is how to cook the perfect steak at home. “Everyone wants their own steak, but at home it’s better to buy a thicker steak and split it. There’s a huge margin of error in cooking thin steaks, and if your meat guy has Prime, you’re probably going to pay $30 a pound for it, so splurge - it’s hard to screw up a thick steak. The difference between a 10-ounce strip that’s three quarters of an inch thick and a 16-ounce one that's an inch and a half is huge. That’s the best advice I have - buy the best meat but get it thicker.”

Start With the Right Meat: These days you can pay between $3 and $35 (or more) a pound for domestic beef, but there are two sweet spots in this spectrum, one for value and one for indulgence. To consumers, there are just three labelled USDA grades, Select, Choice and Prime, but there are actually eleven. Choice spans three levels, but the top tier has twice as much desirable marbling as the bottom, and two thirds of steak graded Choice falls into the lowest rung. The top third, known as “high Choice,” gets picked off by restaurants and special USDA branded private label programs, leaving most supermarket counters with the bottom two thirds. In recent years, there has been a big move on both restaurant menus and in stores to branded steaks limited to the upper third of Choice quality, and these rival entry level Prime at half the price. Look for names that cherry-pick high Choice like Certified Angus Beef, Niman Ranch and Creekstone Ranch, as this category represents the best bang for the buck in red meat.

If money is no object, you want Prime, but not all Prime beef is the same, especially in recent years as the amount has been greatly expanded by maneuvers such as butchering dairy cows, which are fattier but less tasty (USDA grading basically relies entirely on marbling appearance, and not at all on flavor). If you are going to pay for Prime, go all the way and get beef that is naturally raised and ideally dry aged, the single best thing that can be done to improve red meat. Dry aging evaporates out about 10% of the meat weight, all in water, leaving more concentrated rich meat flavor behind. Naturally raised beef, without antibiotics, steroids and growth hormones, is not just for people who want to avoid ingesting drugs - cattle raised this way grow slower and are butchered older, which often means more flavor. But the word “natural” alone means absolutely nothing: you have to see “naturally raised” or “raised entirely without antibiotics/hormones” to get the right thing. Or you can buy branded beef like Niman Ranch Prime (Niman is a true all-natural brand) or Certified Angus Beef Natural Prime (the Natural label is a subset of Certified Angus Beef brand). You almost certainly won’t find dry aged beef, the best of the best, at the supermarket. This kind of steak has to be bought at a specialized butcher or mail ordered from a top retailer like Debragga & Spitler, a New York area shop that supplies top fine dining restaurants but sells direct to consumers as well.

Use Really High Heat: There are many different styles of cooking steak, from gas and charcoal grills to frying pans to oven broilers to wood burning pizza ovens. But no matter which you choose, at home you want to go really hot. Most high-end steakhouses have special broilers or infra-red cookers that go way above 800 degrees, something your home oven cannot do. “The biggest tip is as high heat as you can get, whether on the grill outside or in a cast iron pan,” said Matthew King, Corporate Executive Chef for Smith & Wollensky steakhouses. “I’m going to cook it in the restaurant under a 1200-degree broiler for instant char. Nobody has that at home - I don’t and I’d love to.” The single easiest way for most home cooks to mirror steakhouse searing results is by using an old-fashioned cast iron pan, which retains heat better than newer materials. Let the pan get really hot before the steak goes in, sitting empty on high heat for at least 5-minutes, then add the steak and cook it long enough to get a good sear, about 3-minutes. Flip it, get another good sear, then move the whole pan into a 400-degree preheated oven and use a meat thermometer to finish (115°-120° in the thickest part for rare to medium-rare). This method runs counterintuitive to what most home cooks do, but is nearly foolproof and works so well that when celebrity chef siblings Bryan and Michael Voltaggio opened their Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse in the new MGM National Harbor casino hotel outside Washington, DC, they skipped the fancy commercial broilers altogether and stuck with the cast iron skillet method. You can get fairly high temps on an outdoor grill, but you must keep it closed and avoid the temptation to check on your meat or flip over and over. Every time you raise the lid the temperature drops precipitously and you need not flip more than once. After the second char, “Be prepared with indirect heat,” says Chef Dan Huebschmann of Chicago’s famed Gibson’s steakhouse. “People char the crap out of their meat. Have the option to move it to a part of the grill that’s off the flame to continue cooking, the same idea as finishing the cast iron pan in the oven.”

Over-Season: Restaurateur, author, James Beard Award winner for Best Chef and Emmy award winning TV host Ming Tsai once told me, “the only thing worse than using too much salt is not using enough.” Chef Walzog concurred: “You want to over season.” When it comes to steaks, aggressively coat the outside with your seasoning of choice, from basic salt (flaky or coarse sea salt) and pepper (always use fresh ground peppercorns!) to more complex spice rubs. This is going to help you develop the seared crust you want, while good quality red meat (see Tip #2) is a big dish that can stand up to lots of seasoning - and if you followed Tip #1 and went thick, you are still getting a large ratio of unseasoned interior to exterior crust in every bite.

Let It Rest: Home cooks have trouble believing what top chefs know as scripture, that letting the steak sit for at least 5 and ideally 10-minutes between cooking and serving improves the taste. The authors of one of the all-time great carnivore cookbooks, the River Cottage Meat Book from acclaimed UK farm to table butchery restaurant River Cottage, studied and taste tested the results extensively and documented how important resting is. The Food Lab at website SeriousEats took a more scientific approach and found that the exterior temperature of the cooked steak shortens the muscle fibers and forces liquid - aka juices - into the cooler center, so when you cut a just cooked steak, it spills out, literally leaving much of the most desirable flavor and juiciness on the cutting board or plate. Resting for 5-minutes let the exterior cool enough to start drawing the juices more evenly throughout the steak, but after 10-minutes, there was almost no spillage. We worry about things getting cold and often rush steaks onto a plate already loaded with sides and serve. but this is just flat out wrong. Not only will the steak taste better ten minutes later but it won’t get cold, as the steak keeps cooking after you take it off, typically rising 3-5°, so if anything, it should be pulled early and rested for a perfect result.


5 Expert Steak Tips: How You Can Cook A Perfect Steak Every Time

Summer is coming, and with it backyard grilling season. But you don’t have to cook outside to enjoy perfect steak: you just have to know some industry secrets. After years of writing on meat, steakhouses and grilling, I’ve compiled some of the best advice I’ve received from the chefs and experts that know red meat inside and out. Cooking a great steak every time should not be that hard, but we tend to over-complicate it with a few classic errors. Here is the cheat sheet of steak greatness.

Start With The Right Cut: When it comes to cooking red meat, thicker is better. It is no coincidence that the world’s best steakhouses often feature cuts for two like big porterhouse or T-bones. Thickness is a main reason why filet mignon remains such a popular cut despite being one of the least flavorful pieces of meat. The perfect steak is seared outside and rare in the center, and that is just a lot easier to do with thicker steaks. By the time you get a perfect sear on both sides of a thin steak, it is often gray all the way through. SW Steakhouse in the Wynn Las Vegas is easily one of the very best in the nation, and the question longtime chef David Walzog gets asked the most is how to cook the perfect steak at home. “Everyone wants their own steak, but at home it’s better to buy a thicker steak and split it. There’s a huge margin of error in cooking thin steaks, and if your meat guy has Prime, you’re probably going to pay $30 a pound for it, so splurge - it’s hard to screw up a thick steak. The difference between a 10-ounce strip that’s three quarters of an inch thick and a 16-ounce one that's an inch and a half is huge. That’s the best advice I have - buy the best meat but get it thicker.”

Start With the Right Meat: These days you can pay between $3 and $35 (or more) a pound for domestic beef, but there are two sweet spots in this spectrum, one for value and one for indulgence. To consumers, there are just three labelled USDA grades, Select, Choice and Prime, but there are actually eleven. Choice spans three levels, but the top tier has twice as much desirable marbling as the bottom, and two thirds of steak graded Choice falls into the lowest rung. The top third, known as “high Choice,” gets picked off by restaurants and special USDA branded private label programs, leaving most supermarket counters with the bottom two thirds. In recent years, there has been a big move on both restaurant menus and in stores to branded steaks limited to the upper third of Choice quality, and these rival entry level Prime at half the price. Look for names that cherry-pick high Choice like Certified Angus Beef, Niman Ranch and Creekstone Ranch, as this category represents the best bang for the buck in red meat.

If money is no object, you want Prime, but not all Prime beef is the same, especially in recent years as the amount has been greatly expanded by maneuvers such as butchering dairy cows, which are fattier but less tasty (USDA grading basically relies entirely on marbling appearance, and not at all on flavor). If you are going to pay for Prime, go all the way and get beef that is naturally raised and ideally dry aged, the single best thing that can be done to improve red meat. Dry aging evaporates out about 10% of the meat weight, all in water, leaving more concentrated rich meat flavor behind. Naturally raised beef, without antibiotics, steroids and growth hormones, is not just for people who want to avoid ingesting drugs - cattle raised this way grow slower and are butchered older, which often means more flavor. But the word “natural” alone means absolutely nothing: you have to see “naturally raised” or “raised entirely without antibiotics/hormones” to get the right thing. Or you can buy branded beef like Niman Ranch Prime (Niman is a true all-natural brand) or Certified Angus Beef Natural Prime (the Natural label is a subset of Certified Angus Beef brand). You almost certainly won’t find dry aged beef, the best of the best, at the supermarket. This kind of steak has to be bought at a specialized butcher or mail ordered from a top retailer like Debragga & Spitler, a New York area shop that supplies top fine dining restaurants but sells direct to consumers as well.

Use Really High Heat: There are many different styles of cooking steak, from gas and charcoal grills to frying pans to oven broilers to wood burning pizza ovens. But no matter which you choose, at home you want to go really hot. Most high-end steakhouses have special broilers or infra-red cookers that go way above 800 degrees, something your home oven cannot do. “The biggest tip is as high heat as you can get, whether on the grill outside or in a cast iron pan,” said Matthew King, Corporate Executive Chef for Smith & Wollensky steakhouses. “I’m going to cook it in the restaurant under a 1200-degree broiler for instant char. Nobody has that at home - I don’t and I’d love to.” The single easiest way for most home cooks to mirror steakhouse searing results is by using an old-fashioned cast iron pan, which retains heat better than newer materials. Let the pan get really hot before the steak goes in, sitting empty on high heat for at least 5-minutes, then add the steak and cook it long enough to get a good sear, about 3-minutes. Flip it, get another good sear, then move the whole pan into a 400-degree preheated oven and use a meat thermometer to finish (115°-120° in the thickest part for rare to medium-rare). This method runs counterintuitive to what most home cooks do, but is nearly foolproof and works so well that when celebrity chef siblings Bryan and Michael Voltaggio opened their Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse in the new MGM National Harbor casino hotel outside Washington, DC, they skipped the fancy commercial broilers altogether and stuck with the cast iron skillet method. You can get fairly high temps on an outdoor grill, but you must keep it closed and avoid the temptation to check on your meat or flip over and over. Every time you raise the lid the temperature drops precipitously and you need not flip more than once. After the second char, “Be prepared with indirect heat,” says Chef Dan Huebschmann of Chicago’s famed Gibson’s steakhouse. “People char the crap out of their meat. Have the option to move it to a part of the grill that’s off the flame to continue cooking, the same idea as finishing the cast iron pan in the oven.”

Over-Season: Restaurateur, author, James Beard Award winner for Best Chef and Emmy award winning TV host Ming Tsai once told me, “the only thing worse than using too much salt is not using enough.” Chef Walzog concurred: “You want to over season.” When it comes to steaks, aggressively coat the outside with your seasoning of choice, from basic salt (flaky or coarse sea salt) and pepper (always use fresh ground peppercorns!) to more complex spice rubs. This is going to help you develop the seared crust you want, while good quality red meat (see Tip #2) is a big dish that can stand up to lots of seasoning - and if you followed Tip #1 and went thick, you are still getting a large ratio of unseasoned interior to exterior crust in every bite.

Let It Rest: Home cooks have trouble believing what top chefs know as scripture, that letting the steak sit for at least 5 and ideally 10-minutes between cooking and serving improves the taste. The authors of one of the all-time great carnivore cookbooks, the River Cottage Meat Book from acclaimed UK farm to table butchery restaurant River Cottage, studied and taste tested the results extensively and documented how important resting is. The Food Lab at website SeriousEats took a more scientific approach and found that the exterior temperature of the cooked steak shortens the muscle fibers and forces liquid - aka juices - into the cooler center, so when you cut a just cooked steak, it spills out, literally leaving much of the most desirable flavor and juiciness on the cutting board or plate. Resting for 5-minutes let the exterior cool enough to start drawing the juices more evenly throughout the steak, but after 10-minutes, there was almost no spillage. We worry about things getting cold and often rush steaks onto a plate already loaded with sides and serve. but this is just flat out wrong. Not only will the steak taste better ten minutes later but it won’t get cold, as the steak keeps cooking after you take it off, typically rising 3-5°, so if anything, it should be pulled early and rested for a perfect result.