Cooking the perfect steak every time

Ever bite into a steak and felt like you were chewing on leather? Welcomed by dinner tables across the world, a lot of folks don’t know how to cook a steak. And if you’ve ever had a really good one, there’s no turning back.

There is always a little fat you can trim off the edges of any recipe, but you can’t cut out a tender cut. The most important part of cooking a steak is starting with a good one. The most tender cuts are the tenderloin, sirloin, T-bone, porterhouse or rib-eye steaks.

When we first moved back to Kentucky in 1990 I was in awe of visiting the area farms and livestock. I’d never seen so many happy cows in green pastures. Later that year my mom and dad received a gift from a family friend — grass-fed Angus beef. Not just any slice of beef though, the whole cow. The friends processed, packaged and delivered the entire cow to our house. None of us knew what to think, a whole cow is a lot more meat than you think. Mom tracked down two more freezers to add to the one we already had in the garage, and we were set; steak for dinner for weeks, we ate like kings. I was only 11, but I remember tasting each buttery bite and just savoring it before I had to swallow. I had never cared much for steak, but this tasted like a whole other species. I learned to love even the sweet fat on the sides of the meat — just because we had steak didn’t mean we were gonna waste a bite. And clean our plates we certainly did.

Steaks are best cooked over hot coals. Although if you don’t have access to coals, there are plenty of other ways to cook up delicious steak. To test proper heat hold your hand, palm down over the coals and count in a long second, “one-second-one, two-second-two.” If you can keep your hand comfortably over the coals no more than the two second count you have a hot fire. Of courses, if you don’t want to risk the injury to your hand you can get a grill thermometer.

Score the edges of steaks to prevent curling. Trim the fat from the steaks if necessary, so it doesn’t drip onto the coals and cause excess flaming.

The time needed to cook steaks is dependent not only on the thickness of the steak but also the heat from the grill, therefore, it is impractical to say it takes ten minutes per side for a medium steak, etc.

So how do you get perfect steaks every time? Start timing when you put the steaks on the grill. They are ready to turn when the top of the steaks are covered with beads of sweat. Check your watch again at this point. For perfect medium steaks turn them and cook the same amount of time on the second side. For rare steaks, cook only half as long, and for well done, 1 1/2 times the number of minutes you cooked before turning.

As an example, if it takes ten minutes for the steaks to reach the “sweat” stage, and ready for turning, the additional time needed to completion will be:

5 minutes — rare

10 minutes — medium

15 minutes — well done.

You’ll enjoy this foolproof method of cooking steaks. Remember to use barbecue tongs or a long handled pancake turning for turning heat and lifting steaks. A fork will pierce the meat, causing the loss of juices. Season steaks lightly with salt and pepper just before serving. Serve on a heated platter.

Today I have also included a few of my favorite marinades for adding flavor and also tenderizing the meat.

Good luck and enjoy!

Cold Coffee Marinade

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup red wine

2 garlic cloves

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup cold coffee

Combine all ingredients and pour over steak. Turn steak in marinade two or three times over a two hour period.

Beer Based Marinade

1 can of beer

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon ground ginger

2 tablespoons sugar

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Place beef or pork to be marinated in a large bowl with marinade. Cover bowl and refrigerate for several hours, turning meat occasionally.

Sweet Marinade

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 teaspoon orange rind, grated

Combine all ingredients. Pour over steak and marinade for 2 hours, minimum, prior to cooking. Turn at least two times during that period.

Oriental Marinade

1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice

1/4 cup soy sauce

4 tablespoons sesame seed

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup finely diced onion or green onion

Combine above ingredients in a sauté pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Blend together 1 teaspoon corn starch and 2 tablespoons water in a separate bowl. Stir into mixture to thicken it. Set aside until ready to use. May be made ahead and refrigerated. When ready to use, pour over steak and marinade for at least two hours, turning 3 times during that period.

The recipes used int todays article are from the kitchen of Chef Babz ([email protected]) with a little help from Ila J. Calton, Casual Entertaining with a Flair, 1979.

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