Ask the head chef at any world-class steakhouse or famed local bistro and each will have their own version of “the perfect steak.” The way each chef ages, prepares and finally puts meat to flame will differ. Even the cut of choice will vary, from filet mignon to New York strip, prime rib to porterhouse. There’s also the question of cost and comfort. Not everybody wants to eat at a restaurant, or drop close to $100 on a piece of meat. For us, the perfect steak can be cooked at home, in a skillet, by a somebody without a single Michelin star. Approachable yet impressive, this is the recipe for a perfect meat-eating experience. Start with the cut (ideally, a porterhouse) and follow the steps from there.
1Assemble ingredients and tools. Start with a 1- to 1.5-pound steak — the best kind you can afford. We like a porterhouse that’s 2.5 inches thick. For ingredients, you’ll need sea salt, pepper, vegetable oil and half a stick of unsalted butter. Olive oil, rosemary and lemon are optional (and encouraged). Also, get your cast-iron skillet out.
2Prepare the meat. Take the cut out of the fridge so it warms. A piece of meat that’s near room temperature cooks more evenly than one that’s cold. You want to leave the steak out for between 30 minutes and an hour. Pat it down with dry paper towel to help dry it out. Then apply the salt and pepper with vigor before the next step.
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3Turn up the heat. Heat the skillet to medium-high. It’s important that the skillet is the correct heat before you start cooking. Put a drop of vegetable oil into the skillet and, when the oil starts smoking, toss in 4 heaping tablespoons of butter. We recommend also tossing in rosemary and a lemon (cut in half, flesh-side down).
4Cook the meat. Sear one side of the steak for 4 minutes, then turn the heat down to medium and sear the other side for another 4 minutes. Spoon the melted butter, which should already be in the skillet, over the steak while it’s cooking. Then sear the steak’s edges, for 30 seconds each, by holding the meat with tongs. Turn off the heat and spoon more melted butter over the steak. Put the pan cover over the skillet (tin foil works in a pinch) and leave for two minutes.
5Rest, cut and serve. Let the steak rest on a cutting board for about 5 minutes. This resting time helps redistribute the juices throughout the steak. Cut the meat against the grain — i.e., the muscle fibers. This ensures that those muscle fibers, which hold the meat together, are cut to short pieces in each bite. The result: a more tender bite.
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