8 Common Misteaks Mistakes People Make When Cooking Steak
We love a juicy, well-cooked (though not well-done!) steak. When you’ve got a quality piece of meat, you don’t have to gussy it up with complicated cooking techniques and extravagant sauces—and that’s precisely why we love it. It’s simplicity at its best: just good, old fashioned, unfussy eatin’. So why is cooking a steak so darn difficult? From a tragically gray exterior to an overly-cooked inside, there are so many ways to go wrong.
But fear not! Our test kitchen is here to help. Senior food editor Dawn Perry walks us through the art of cooking the perfect steak, whether it’s a porterhouse, a hanger, or filet. Ready to cook some seriously awesome beef? This is your time to shine.
1. Head to the Supermarket
A steak is not a steak is not a steak—meaning a butcher can really help you navigate the tricky waters of what cuts to try and how to cook them. Shopping for meat at a grocery store will leave you with the usual suspects, but a butcher can introduce you to newer, less popular cuts that boast huge flavor, like hanger and flatiron steaks. Don’t be afraid to ask your butcher questions about how he or she would cook the steak—that’s exactly what they’re there for!
2. Out of the Fridge, into the Frying Pan
Whether you’re cooking a thin strip steak or a thick porterhouse, you’ve gotta plan ahead, and that means taking it out well in advance of actually cooking it. So how long is “well in advance”? For the thinner cuts, a half-hour on the counter will do. If your steak is over an inch thick, plan on at least an hour—and even up to two. Why does this matter? I__f you dive right from the fridge into the pan, you’re risking an undercooked steak__ with a gray exterior: decidedly not delicious and definitely unappealing.
3. A Sprinkle Will Do
When it comes to seasoning, this is not the time to be shy. Perry explains that in addition to aiding in the formation of a gorgeous crust, it’s necessary for big, bold flavor. “You can’t season the inside of the steak,” she says. “So you’ve got to aggressively season the exterior.” This is not, however, a pass to get crazy with spice rubs and other “creative” seasonings. When you’ve got a good steak, you’re going to want to taste the steak, says assistant food editor Claire Saffitz. So go for coarse kosher salt and black pepper, and season with wild abandon: You should be able to actually see the salt and pepper.
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