jjudge Jeff Judge

How to cook a good steak in the winter

February 06, 2008

I saw a post tonight on food tips, and it reminded me to publish my take on how to cook a good steak during the winter months. Of course it's possible to fire up the grill while it's cold and snowy out, but the point of this post is that you certainly don't have to.

In my opinion, a great steak only needs three things: (1) high heat, (2) garlic salt, and (3) black pepper. Heat makes or breaks steak. If you want to make someone cry, give them a great piece of meat that hasn't been cooked with the right heat. It's seriously night and day.

The other prerequisite is that you'll need quality meat your local butcher or a higher end store like Whole Foods. I recommend the New York strip cut as I think it really nails the amount of fat you need in a steak. You get what you pay for, so don't be cheap.

Now that you've got what you need, let's jump into the play-by-play:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
  2. Season both sides of the steak with garlic salt and pepper. Remember, salt is good. Garlic is good. Garlic salt on a nice peace meat with pepper to taste...fuck yes.
  3. Grab a grill pan (these are usually square and have ridges) or cast iron skillet, set on the stove and turn the burner just shy of high. I like the grill pan because the fat can run off to the sides via the ridges in the pan, but it's not critical.
  4. Once the pan is hot enough (run your fingers under the kitchen sink and flick water on the pan to test, it should sizzle away), throw your steaks on. After three (3) minutes, flip and cook for another two (2) minutes on the other side. You want to get a nice sear on both sides. Don't screw around here...stick to the schedule!
  5. Now throw the pan in the oven and cook for another four (4) minutes or so. The best way to tell if a steak is done is to press on it with your finger. There is some trick about how to test for how done it is by doing the same with your finger and your palm, but that's just over thinking it. Medium rare (dark pink in the middle) is the way to cook a steak: the meat should be soft, but not spongy. If the meat is firm, game over. It might take you a few times before you get this down, but you will.
  6. Pull the pan out, let the steak rest for 4-5 minutes while you prep up the rest of the meal and enjoy. Don't get too excited here, you need to let the steak rest so the juices will distribute and the meat will finish cooking.

Pair this with a nice bottle of red wine (cab, zin, pinot) and a quick salad of heirloom tomato, buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, olive oil and cracked pepper.

If you're reading this, I'd love to know how things turned out.

Enjoy!