What Makes a Great Steak?

What Makes a Great Steak?

Tips for Making a Great Steak

By Chef Tony Street

Here are some insider tips on making a great Y.O. style steak at home.

The Grade

Selecting a good cut of beef is just as important as the way you prepare it. The best steakhouses and restaurants in the United States serve up the most expensive grade of beef known as USDA prime beef. Prime grade beef accounts for about 3% of all beef production in the U.S., and most of our beef at the Y.O. The demand for this high quality beef makes it hard for you and I to just pick up at the corner grocery store. If you can’t find Prime grade, look for Choice grade – the next best thing.

The Aging

Ever heard the terms dry-aged, wet-aged? Have any idea what they mean? Most fine restaurants age their beef to intensify the flavor and improve the tenderness of the cut.  Wet aging is done by vacuum packing the meat and letting it age in its own juices. Wet aging is done by more than 90% of fine steakhouses.

Dry aging is done by letting the meat sit (in very controlled conditions) for several days or weeks. This is a difficult process to perform because the risk of spoilage and food poisoning can be very high. You can however, check with your local meat markets to try and find a source for dry aged beef. If you can’t find it, don’t worry because very few palates could tell the difference between the two.

The Seasoning

YO Steak SeasoningsGreat steaks need little seasoning. This goes back to our first rule: If you start with high quality ingredients, you won’t need much else.

However, every great steakhouse seasons the steaks they cook. Typically a steak is seasoned with coarse ground black pepper, sea or kosher salt, garlic, and some type of signature spice.  In addition to the seasoning most steakhouse’s use a marinade, butter, or some type of baste or finishing liquid.

Here at the Y.O., we finish the steak as soon as it’s done with a liquid mixture of red wine, red wine vinegar and soy sauce. This helps to lock in all the flavor and moisture, giving your cut the succulent flavor you love.

Cooking method

Most big steakhouses broil their steaks, using overhead, infrared broilers that produce incredibly hot temperatures to cook steaks. Don’t worry though, you don’t need to go out and invest in one, but the principle is the same. You need incredibly high heat in direct contact with the meat.

Great steaks on a cast iron skilletA basic, inexpensive cast iron pan or griddle is the steak’s best friend. Heavy, dense and able to hold a lot of heat, cast iron pans make the perfect steak. Only by having contact with that intense heat can you cook the steak hot enough and fast enough to make it perfect.

The basic process is to preheat the pan as hot as you can get it. Drop in the steak for two minutes. Flip, add and cook for 3-4 more minutes depending on how you want your steak done. When the steak is at the temperature you like it add your butter or finishing liquid. Be prepared – this is a smoke-filled process, but it can be done on your side burner on your grill without flooding the house with smoke.

Bon Appetite Y’all

Tony Street