How to Cook Beef Steak

Written by M. Dee Dubroff

In order to be fully appreciated, beef steak should be cooked correctly. Many people cook beef steak with dry heat. Dry heat can be supplied by an oven broiler or a grill surface. Cooking with dry heat causes the meat’s exterior to brown and caramelize, which gives steak its complex flavor and appetizing browned appearance. This is called the “maillard reaction,” which occurs when the sugars in the meat blend during heating. Beef steak can also be cooked at a low temperature for a longer period of time, with a marinade or other liquid.

Gourmet steak gifts make a wonderful gourmet gift. The best grade of meat is USDA Prime Aged Beef, which should be prepared to make the most of its tenderness and flavor. The next best grade of beef steak is Choice. A gift of beef steak is often accompanied with instructions on how to cook steak to ensure that it is tender and flavorful.

What should you look for when buying beef steak?

When buying steak, look for cuts with fine texture that are firm to the touch. Avoid meats that are deep red in color and opt instead for a light cherry shade. Also, look for marbling. These are the thin threads of white fat that run through the meat and give it a wonderful flavor. Some cuts, such as rib eye, will naturally have more marbling than others, but all steaks should have some.  The best steak is purchased from a trusted butcher or ordered from a reputable online source.

What are some things to know when learning how to cook beef steak?

1. Learn about the different kinds of cuts

To learn how to cook beef steak, understand the different types of steak. Steak refers to a cut of meat. Steaks cut from the rib or the loin are the tenderest. These include Rib eyes, Delmonico, T-bone and Tenderloin steaks. Less tender cuts, like the Flank steak, Round Tip or Top Blade, are generally cut from the chuck or the round.

2. Know the different cooking methods

Each cut of beef steak requires a different method of cooking: broiling, grilling, pan searing or braising.
Steaks can be cooked quickly by broiling or grilling, or braised and cooked slowly at a low temperature. There are ideal cooking methods for different cuts of beef. Filet mignon, for example, is best cooked by pan searing, which causes an appealing brown crust to form on the outside of the filet.

3. The importance of room temperature

The first step in cooking beef steak is to allow the meat to approach room-temperature prior to cooking. A good way to ensure this is to remove the steak from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking. A cold steak takes longer to reach the desired serving temperature.

4. Use seasonings in careful moderation

Seasoning enhances the natural flavor of the steak. Too much seasoning can disguise a good cut of meat. A beef steak is naturally flavorful, and is optimally served with a little salt and pepper. Kosher or sea salt and fresh cracked black, red or white pepper are gourmet additions to a perfectly cooked beef steak. Choose marinade for steak carefully, making sure they will complement the flavor of the beef.

5. Never touch the steak while it is cooking except to turn it

Poking steaks with a fork while they are cooking is the surest way to ruin the texture of the meat. Moving steaks around on the grill or in the pan does nothing except guarantee lackluster results. 

Take the time to learn about meat and how to cook beef steak for excellent results from the broiler or the grill.