Craving steak? There’s a restaurant for that. Of the 50 highest-grossing restaurants in the U.S., steakhouses and establishments geared towards carnivores make up a whopping one-third of them.
That also means as a nation we’re forking over a lot to enjoy steaks on our forks when we could be cooking it at home for less money.
Impossible, you say? Not with The Wow Style’s guide to cooking the perfect restaurant style steak. Just follow these trade secrets that every good steak chef knows.
Know Your Cut
First, did you know that some cuts of steak require different cooking times than others? For example, filet mignon — which is very tender — should only be cooked until it’s rare to medium-rare to retain that melt-in-your-mouth texture. So when you choose your ideal steak, just be aware of how much you can cook it for optimum flavor.
Most basic cuts of steak including rib eye, T-bone, tri-tip, and tenderloin can all be cooked using the same basic equipment: a stove, frying pan, oil, and salt and pepper.
Let It Warm Up
No matter what kind of steak you cook, the first step to achieving perfection is to let the meat thaw and warm up completely to room temperature. Otherwise, any cold spots will take longer to cook. The result is a steak that isn’t cooked evenly.
You can run a frozen steak under cool water to start the thawing process but ideally, it’s best to pull it out of the freezer ahead of time and letting it warm up and soften on its own.
Pat It Down
If you’re looking to achieve a good sear on your steak—and who isn’t—then you need to ensure the piece of meat is completely dry before you begin. Moisture is your enemy and will make it impossible to achieve that crispy, caramelized outside.
Pat both sides of the steak thoroughly with paper towels. You’d be surprised how much blood can linger after steak is cut and packaged.
Prep Your Pan
Now it’s time to choose your weapon. Although some of the best charcoal smokers will cook a steak nicely, they’re not exactly a practical choice for most restaurants. Go with a cooking pan.
Stainless steel, cast iron, and carbon steel pans work extremely well for cooking steak, as they help achieve that slightly crispy coating you’re going for. These two materials help distribute heat evenly for a perfectly cooked steak.
Heat the pan for a few minutes over medium-high to high heat. Coat it with a little oil or a generous pat of butter, using a brush to get it evenly coated.
Season the Steak
Did we mention that moisture is the enemy? That’s why you want to wait until now to season your steak with a little salt and pepper, not minutes earlier. Salt helps draw hidden moisture out of the meat, making it wet again, so don’t season it until you’re ready to place it into the pan.
Although you can experiment with steak rubs and other meat seasonings, it’s hard to beat basic salt and pepper for gently enhancing beef’s flavor. Just a little sprinkle or shake of each should do the trick.
Hear That Sizzle
If your pan is hot enough, you should hear a nice sizzle when you place the steak into it. If not, take it out immediately and turn up the heat. After a minute, put it back into the pan.
Now here comes the tough part: leaving the steak alone. Allowing the steak to cook undisturbed will help give it that even sear. Flip it to the other side when it’s ready and repeat.
Exactly how many minutes you should cook it on each side depends on the thickness and how done you like your beef. For an estimate, a one-inch thick cut cooked for four minutes on each side will turn out rare to medium-rare.
Using a meat thermometer will help you gauge exactly how done and ready it is.
Let it Rest
To rest or not to rest? Most steakhouses let their cuts of meat rest for a few minutes before serving to retain that luscious juiciness, so we say follow their lead.
Don’t Forget the Sides
There’s no shortage of side dishes that go well with steak but it’s an absolute must to have potatoes with this meal. Try a crispy-skinned baked potato, mash them to a creamy delight, or cook shoestring fries for classic steak and fries.
You should also get your five-a-day in by enjoying a vegetable side dish or two with your meat. Try roasting carrots and glazing them in maple syrup or orange juice, topping sauteed Brussels spouts with a honey mustard dressing, or creaming spinach with tangy cream cheese.
Raise a Toast
You’ll also want to enjoy the fruits of your labor with some fruit in a glass, namely wine. Red wines such as cabernets and malbec tend to pair best with red meat. Keep in mind that seasoning steaks with simple salt and pepper make them more compatible with a variety of red wines, while flavored seasonings may clash with robust or spicy wines.
Now You Know How To Cook Restaurant Style Steak at Home
Knowing how to make the perfect restaurant style steak at home by following the above tips can save you a lot of money that would otherwise be spent dining out. You’re also in control of exactly how precisely cooked you want your steak.
Craving more cooking tips you can sink your teeth into? Check out our latest home and garden posts for recipes, techniques, and more!