How to Cook Steak – like a Chef: Your Ultimate Guide

If you’re a steak lover, knowing how to perfect it is key. Welcome to “Cooking Steak – The Chef’s Way,” where I’ll guide you from selecting the proper cut to adding the final touches with a classic sauce.

We’ll start with two top cuts – the Scotch Fillet (Ribeye) and Eye Fillet (fillet mignon). Then, we’ll highlight the importance of room temperature before cooking.

I’ll share my techniques for pan-searing and grilling, focusing on even heat. You’ll learn about the crucial resting time for perfect juiciness, and wrap up with a lesson on sauces like Béarnaise. So, let’s jump into it.

Table Of Contents:

Choosing the Perfect Cut

As the driving force behind two of New Zealand’s top-notch steak restaurants for years, I’ve picked up a trick or two that I’m eager to pass on. When you’re crafting a restaurant-grade steak at home, it’s all about starting with the right cut. Keep an eye out for a beautifully marbled cut – those thin lines of fat are your golden ticket to unforgettable flavour and tenderness. And while you’re chatting with your butcher, remember to ask about the aging process of the steak. It’s a detail that can dramatically transform the flavour. In this blog, I will focus on perfecting the Eye Fillet (filet mignon) and Scotch Fillet, taking on both whole and portioned cuts. Remember, knowledge is the secret ingredient to achieving the perfect flavour, and your local butcher is a treasure trove of useful tips. So let’s roll up our sleeves and get into it.

Tip # One

Moisture is often seen as an enemy when cooking steak due to the principle of the Maillard reaction – a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned food its distinctive flavour. This reaction occurs at high temperatures, typically above 140°C (284°F).

If the surface of your steak is wet, the heat of the pan will spend its energy evaporating the moisture rather than creating the beautiful, flavourful browning we all love. Essentially, a wet steak will steam rather than sear, resulting in less desirable colour and flavour.

That’s why I recommend patting your steak dry before cooking it. By doing this, you help ensure that the steak will sear properly, developing a rich brown crust that’s loaded with flavour.

How to Cook Scotch Fillet 

The scotch fillet steak is known for its rich marbling, making it one of the juiciest and most flavorful cuts available. The abundant intramuscular fat melts during cooking, resulting in a tender, succulent eating experience that’s hard to beat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Scotch fillet steak, about 2.5 cm thick
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preparation: Take your Scotch fillet steak out of the fridge and allow it to reach room temperature – this may take a couple of hours.
  2. Perfectly Seared Scotch Fillet Steak in a Cast-Iron PanPreheat Your Pan: Place your cast-iron pan over high heat. Let it preheat until it’s extremely hot – you’re looking for the level of heat that will give your steak a lovely, flavourful crust.
  3. Oil and Season Your Steak: Brush your steak evenly with the oil. Then, season it generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides just as you’re ready to cook. Remember, seasoning should be done right before cooking to prevent the salt from drawing out too much moisture from the steak.
  4. Cook Your Steak: Carefully place your steak in the preheated pan. You should hear a satisfying sizzle – that’s the sound of a good sear in progress. Now, start your timer. Every 30 seconds, flip your steak. This frequent flipping will promote an even crust and a more evenly cooked interior.
  5. Check Doneness: After a few minutes (for medium-rare, adjust time if you prefer more or less done), use a meat thermometer to check the steak’s internal temperature. You’re aiming for 52-54°C, a few degrees under your target as the steak will continue to cook from residual heat.
  6. Rest Your Steak: Once your steak has reached the desired temperature, remove it from the pan and let it rest on a chopping board or plate. This step is crucial. Let your steak rest for at least 5 minutes or about 5 minutes for every 2.5 cm of thickness. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the steak, making it even more flavourful and juicy.
  7. Serve: After the resting period, your steak is ready to be enjoyed. Slice it against the grain, serve it with your favourite sides, and savour the results of your culinary efforts!

Cooking the Perfect Whole Eye Fillet Steak

Now that you’ve selected the perfect cut, it’s time to cook it to perfection. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Remove the steak from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 2 – 3 hours before cooking.
  2. Preheat your oven to 205°C (400°F).
  3. Heat a cast-iron skillet or grill pan over high heat until it’s smoking hot.
  4. Season the steak generously with salt and pepper on both sides.
  5. Place the steak in the hot pan and sear for 2-3 minutes on each side until a crust forms.
  6. Transfer the pan to the preheated oven and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, depending on your desired level of doneness.
  7. Remove the steak from the oven and let it rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes before slicing.

How To Cook Single-Portion Eye Fillet Steaks

Eye Fillet offers a one-of-a-kind experience with its melt-in-your-mouth tenderness and rich, incredible flavour. The best part? It’s completely trimmed of all the sinew and ready to cook, making it great value for your money. Want to see how to cook it to perfection?  

Simon Says

Cooking the perfect steak is all about selecting the right cut, allowing it to reach room temperature, removing any moisture with a paper towel, cooking it to your desired level of doneness, and letting it rest before slicing. With these tips, you’ll be able to impress your guests with a restaurant-quality steak every time.

When selecting a steak, it is important to consider the cut and its marbling; ribeye steaks are particularly juicy and flavorful. For an excellent steak, the way it is cooked is vital.

Preparing Your Steak

Prior to beginning the cooking process, ensure your steak is adequately prepared for ideal results by allowing it to come up to room temperature. Take your steak out of the fridge 2-3 hours before cooking, as this helps ensure even cooking throughout. This step is crucial as it helps ensure even cooking throughout the meat.

Allowing Steak to Reach Room Temperature Before Cooking

Achieving an evenly cooked steak begins with allowing the meat to reach room temperature before hitting the heat. When a cold steak is placed on a hot surface, its outer layers cook faster than its center, resulting in uneven doneness levels. By letting your cut sit at room temperature for about 2-3 hours beforehand, you’ll promote consistent heating across all parts of the meat during cooking. Sometimes, we may not have the luxury of 2-3 hours to take our steak out of the refrigerator before cooking. In such instances, place your steaks in a zip-lock bag and immerse them in warm water for around 20 – 30 minutes. This method will help your steak reach room temperature when you’re short on time.

Importance of Patting Dry and Seasoning Properly

To achieve that perfect crust on your steak like professional chefs do, pat dry each side with paper towels before seasoning generously with salt and pepper. Removing excess moisture from your cut ensures better contact between its surface and pan or grill grates which leads more even browning overall while also preventing steaming effect caused by trapped water droplets inside skillet when searing high temperatures are used creating those delicious caramelized flavors we all crave.

  • Pat dry: Use paper towels to remove any excess moisture from both sides of your steak.
  • Optional: Instead of greasing your pan or BBQ grill before cooking your steak, consider applying a light coat of extra virgin olive oil directly onto your steak before seasoning. This approach not only enhances the flavour but also helps to reduce smoke during the cooking process. 
    • This can help create a more complex taste profile and further elevate your home-cooked meal.
  • Salt & Pepper: Generously season each side with your favourite salt along with freshly ground black peppercorns (don’t be shy.). The combination not only enhances flavour but also aids Maillard reaction responsible for forming golden-brown crusts during the cooking process.

With these essential preparation steps completed, you’re now ready to cook your steak like a chef using either searing or grilling techniques.

To ensure a delicious outcome, it is essential to properly prepare the steak before cooking. Having discussed the importance of preparing your steak, let us now examine various cooking methods – searing, grilling, and how often to flip.

Key Takeaway: 

To cook steak like a chef, it’s important to properly prepare the meat by allowing it to reach room temperature before cooking and patting dry each side with paper towels. Apply a light coating of EVOO. Generously seasoning with salt and pepper enhances flavour while aiding in the formation of golden-brown crusts during cooking. 

Cooking Techniques – Searing vs Grilling

Searing and grilling are two popular methods used by chefs and home cooks to create a perfect steak, each having its own advantages that must be properly executed for top-notch results. Both methods offer their own benefits, yet the secret to a restaurant-quality outcome lies in executing them accurately.

Using a Cast Iron Pan and  Flipping Your Steak for Even Sear

Searing your steak on high heat in a cast iron pan or heavy-based skillet is essential for achieving an even, golden-brown crust. These types of pans retain heat better than other materials, ensuring consistent temperature throughout the cooking process. Flipping your steak every 30 seconds offers some key advantages. Firstly, it promotes more even cooking, preventing the steak from becoming overcooked on one side while the other remains undercooked. This regular rotation helps distribute heat more uniformly through the meat. It also encourages a nice, even sear across the steak’s surface, enhancing the finished product’s flavour and appearance. Turning your steak every minute is an excellent alternative if flipping every 30 seconds isn’t practical. Whether you’re flipping every 30 seconds or every minute, the goal remains to prevent the steak from being either undercooked or overcooked, and these regular intervals assist in maintaining that perfect balance.

Contrary to the traditional method of cooking one side fully before flipping to the other, this technique of flipping every 30 seconds or every minute promotes a more evenly cooked steak.

Monitoring Doneness During Grilling Process

If you prefer grilling your steaks outdoors using a charcoal or gas grill instead of searing indoors on a stovetop, then make sure to monitor its progress closely to ensure optimal results are achieved every time. One way to do this effectively is through the use of an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat without touching the bone; aim for internal temperatures ranging between 

When cooking steak, the internal temperature is the best indicator of how done your meat is. Here’s a guideline for different levels of doneness:

  1. Rare : The center is raw or slightly cooked, and the internal temperature should be 49-52 degrees Celsius (120-125 degrees Fahrenheit).
  2. Medium Rare: The steak will have a warm, red center, and the internal temperature should be 57-63 degrees Celsius (135-145 degrees Fahrenheit).
  3. Medium: The steak will have a hot, pink center, and the internal temperature should be 63-68 degrees Celsius (145-155 degrees Fahrenheit).
  4. Medium Well: The steak will be mostly brown with a slight hint of pink, and the internal temperature should be 68-74 degrees Celsius (155-165 degrees Fahrenheit).
  5. Well Done: The steak is cooked thoroughly and browned all the way through, and the internal temperature should be 74+ degrees Celsius (165+ degrees Fahrenheit).

Remember, these temperatures reflect the steak’s temperature when you remove it from the heat source. The steak will continue to cook a bit more (the temperature will rise 5-10 degrees) during the resting period after it’s removed from the heat.

Steaks will continue to cook even after they’re removed from heat due to a phenomenon known as carryover cooking. To account for this, remove your steak from the heat source when it’s about 5°F below your desired final temperature and let it rest before serving (more on resting in Heading 5).

Searing and grilling are both effective techniques for cooking steak, however it is important to consider the type of pan used when searing as well as monitoring doneness during the grilling process. Basting with butter, garlic, and thyme adds flavour while also helping to retain moisture in your steak; let’s explore how best to baste a steak before beginning our cook.

Key Takeaway: 

Regular Flipping helps distribute heat more uniformly through the meat. It also encourages a nice, even sear across the steak’s surface.

Basting Ingredients – Butter, Garlic & Thyme

Once your steak is seared on both sides, it’s time to enhance its flavour with some delicious basting ingredients. I recommend using unsalted butter (about 2 – 4 tablespoons), smashed garlic cloves, and fresh thyme sprigs for this purpose. The addition of these components will help enhance the flavour.

How to Properly Baste a Steak During Cooking

  1. Add about five tablespoons of unsalted butter into your skillet or pan after searing both sides of your steak.
  2. Toss in several smashed garlic cloves and fresh thyme sprigs alongside the melting butter.
  3. Gently tilt the pan towards yourself so that all melted butter pools at one side; then use a spoon or baster tool to scoop up this mixture and repeatedly pour it over the top surface area where the meat lies.
  4. Continue basting for about one to two minutes, ensuring that the steak is evenly coated with the butter mixture. This process helps keep your steak moist and tender while also infusing it with incredible flavors from garlic and thyme.

By incorporating these simple yet effective basting techniques into your cooking routine, you’ll be well on your way to achieving restaurant-quality steaks at home. Keep trying out different ingredients until you find the combination that works best for you – it’s all part of perfecting your steak-cooking technique.

 Now let’s take a look at how to properly rest and serve your steak for an unforgettable dining experience.

Key Takeaway: 

To cook a perfect steak, basting it with unsalted butter, smashed garlic cloves and fresh thyme sprigs after searing on both sides can add richness and flavour while maintaining its juiciness. Basting helps create the perfect golden-brown crust. 

Resting & Serving Your Steak

After cooking your steak to the desired level of doneness, whether by searing or grilling, it’s crucial to let it rest for at least five to 10 minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the meat, ensuring each bite remains tender and succulent.

The Importance of Resting Time for Even Juice Distribution

The process of resting is essential in achieving a juicy, flavorful steak. When cooked, the heat causes muscle fibers in the meat to contract, pushing juices towards the center. Allowing the steak to rest gives these fibers time to relax and reabsorb those delicious juices. Skipping this step may result in a dry, less satisfying meal. If your steak cools down too much during the resting period, don’t worry, you can briefly reheat it without compromising its tenderness or juiciness.

Plating Tips and Finishing Touches

To elevate your culinary masterpiece even further, consider sprinkling a pinch of high-quality salt.  Finishing salts not only add an extra layer of flavour but also provide texture contrast that enhances every bite.

  • Slicing: If you’re serving multiple guests or want an elegant presentation, slice your rested steak against the grain into thin strips before arranging them on individual plates or a shared platter.
  • Garnish: A simple sprig of fresh rosemary or thyme can add a touch of color and aroma to your dish, while a small side salad with rocket or watercress provides a refreshing contrast to the rich flavorus of the steak.
  • Sauce: For those who enjoy an extra burst of flavor, serve your steak with a classic sauce like peppercorn or red wine reduction. These sauces not only complement the meat but also provide additional moisture for an even more enjoyable dining experience.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to cooking the perfect steak, just like a chef. Don’t forget to visit your local butcher for the best cuts of meat, and use a hot pan or grill and a cutting board to achieve the best results. Whether you prefer a filet mignon or a ribeye, these tips will help you cook a steak that will impress your guests and leave them wanting more.

Once you have allowed your steak to rest, it’s time to serve and enjoy the juicy results. For a truly restaurant-worthy experience, consider classic accompaniments and sauces that will add flavor complexity to your meal.

Key Takeaway: 

To cook steak like a chef, it’s important to let it rest for at least five to 10 minutes after cooking. This allows the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the meat, ensuring each bite remains tender and succulent. To elevate your culinary masterpiece even further, consider sprinkling high-quality salt or serving with a classic sauce like peppercorn or red wine reduction.

Classic Accompaniments & Sauces

To elevate the dish even further, serve your perfectly cooked steak with classic accompaniments like Bearnaise sauce, Paris Mash, Garlic Sauteed Spinach, Crispy Smashed Potatoes or Chimichurri Sauce. These side dishes not only complement the flavors but also provide a complete dining experience reminiscent of top steakhouses.

Bearnaise Sauce Recipe

A traditional French sauce made from clarified butter emulsified in egg yolks and flavored with herbs and shallots, Bearnaise sauce adds an indulgent richness to your steak. The tangy notes from vinegar and tarragon cut through the fattiness of the meat while enhancing its natural flavors. To make this at home, follow our easy recipe that will guide you step by step to create a velvety smooth Bearnaise perfect for drizzling over your seared masterpiece.

For More Recipes, Visit Gault’s Deli

How Do Chefs Cook Steak So Fast?

Chefs use high-quality cuts of meat at room temperature that require less cooking time than thicker or colder steaks. They also utilize high heat sources such as grills or cast iron skillets that provide quick sears and intense flavors. Additionally, they rely on their experience to determine when steaks are done without needing extra time-consuming methods like thermometers.

What Is the Secret to Cooking a Good Steak?

The secret lies in selecting quality cuts of beef, allowing them to reach room temperature before cooking, removing any moisture with a paper towel, properly seasoning with salt and pepper, using an appropriate technique like pan-searing or grilling over high heat, ensuring proper resting after being cooked, and basting with flavourful ingredients such as butter or herbs during the preparation process.

Conclusion

Learning how to cook steak like a chef requires choosing the perfect cut, preparing it properly, and mastering cooking techniques. Start by selecting the right cut of meat from your local butcher, such as a filet mignon or scotch fillet. Allow the steak to reach room temperature before cooking, pat it dry, lightly coat in evoo, and season it well with salt and pepper.

Heat a hot pan until it’s smoking, then add the steak and sear it for a few minutes on each side until it develops a crust. Basting with butter, garlic, and thyme adds flavour and moisture to your steak. Use a meat thermometer to monitor the doneness of your steak, and remove it from the heat when it reaches your desired temperature.

Resting your steak allows for even juice distribution. Classic accompaniments such as Bearnaise sauce or good balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil provide rich creaminess or fresh herbaceous notes that complement the meat perfectly.

To become a master at cooking steak like a chef yourself, visit Gault’s Deli for one of our cooking classes. 

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