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Friday, December 19, 2008

Cooking Techniques For The Perfect Steaks

Using dry heat is the best way to cook steaks and other tender cuts of meat. Dry heat cooking causes the exterior of the meat to brown and caramelize which gives the steaks a richly browned complex flavor. This is partly a result of the sugars inherent in the meat going through a series of complex reactions called the "Maillard reaction." The moisture on the surface of the meat also evaporates and the juices becomes concentrated, forming the appealing brown crust.

Use a Meat Thermometer:
 

For best grilling results, cook steaks according to a Cooking or Meat Thermometer rather than a timetable. Remove steaks from the grill 5 degrees before your steak reaches the desired doneness. Let steaks rest 5-10 minutes before serving. During this time the meat continues to cook (meat temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after it is removed from the oven) and the juices redistribute (add juices that accumulate from resting steaks to wine sauce).


    Rare - 120�F
    Medium Rare - 125�F
    Medium - 130�F



What constitutes rare and medium-rare cooked meat?
To satisfy government home economists, the Beef Council says rare beef means an internal temperature of 140 degrees F. Well, that is ok if you like well-done and dry meat. If you like moist, rosy meat (like I do), rare begins at 120 degrees and starts to become medium rare at 125 or 130 degrees. To cook your meat properly, you must purchase and use a good instant-read digital meat thermometer.
 

Pan-Searing:

In a heavy frying pan (I use my cast-iron frying pan) over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sear the steaks, moving them with tongs a little so they don't stick to the bottom, for 5 to 6 minutes per side.
Use a meat thermometer to test for doneness.

When the steaks are crusty-charred and done to your liking, remove from the pan, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest 5-10 minutes before serving. During this time the meat continues to cook (meat temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after it is removed from the oven) and the juices redistribute; add juices that accumulate from resting steaks to any sauce you are making). Serve whole or slice thin and fan onto individual serving plates.

   

Sear-Roasting:

Preheat oven to 500�F (a very hot oven produces a juicy interior). Place 10 to 12-inch ovenproof skillet or cast-iron skillet in oven. When oven reaches 500�F temperature, remove pan from oven and place on range over high heat (the pan and the handle will be extremely hot - be careful).
Immediately place steaks in the middle of hot, dry pan (if cooking more than one piece of meat, add the pieces carefully so that they are not touching each other). Cook 1 to 2 minutes without moving; turn with tongs and cook another 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and put the cast iron skillet with the steaks in it into the oven. Cook an additional 3 to 5 minutes, depending on thickness of steaks and degree of doneness you like. Use a meat thermometer to test for doneness.

When the steaks are crusty-charred and done to your liking, remove from the pan, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest 5-10 minutes before serving. During this time the meat continues to cook (meat temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after it is removed from the oven) and the juices redistribute (add juices that accumulate from resting steaks to wine sauce). Serve whole or slice thin and fan onto individual serving plates.
 
Grilling or Barbecuing:
Using dry heat from a grill is another great way to cook quality steaks. Remove steaks from refrigeration 1 hour before cooking and wipe any excess marinade (if used) off the steaks.

When you are ready to grill, preheat barbecue grill and coat your grill with non-stick kitchen spray before you begin to keep your steaks from sticking to the grill. Place steaks onto hot grill. Season the steaks liberally with coarse salt and grill to the desired degree of doneness, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium rare. Use a meat thermometer to test for doneness.
When the steaks are crusty-charred and done to your liking, remove from the grill and let sit 15 minutes before serving (meat temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after it is removed from the oven).

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