It is time to stop with the pizza rolls and mac n’ cheese — Kraft for the Canadians — dinners. It is time to learn how to cook. One of the easiest and most forgiving meals to learn is a steak dinner. There are a handful of ways to prepare the culinary icon, many of them depending on the cut. For the sake of brevity, we will focus on the New York strip steak.
With a solid amount of fat and great tenderness, this steak is easily identified by the line of fat running down one side. If you’re not a big fan of the fat strip, it can be easily trimmed off. The local Marketplace Foods grocery stores price the cut between $6 and $11, with thick cuts being priced closer to $11. When learning to cook in a pan only, normal cuts are best to start with. It can be a bit tricky cooking through a thick cut properly in a pan without having to finish it off in an oven.
Proper prep work goes a long way for a good steak. First, do not freeze the steak. Buy it with the intent to cook within the next two days. Once you’re ready, pull the steak out of the refrigerator and let it sit between 15-30 minutes, bringing the steak closer to room temperature. Next, dry the steak off with a paper towel and season it liberally with salt and pepper right before putting it on the pan. If you’re feeling a little extra, add garlic powder and a small amount of brown sugar to the mix as well. Ultimately, each choice is made to help the steak retain moisture, juices, and flavor while cooking.
For pan cooking, you can use either a cast iron skillet or a normal nonstick. Really, whatever you have on hand will work; the point here is to learn to cook without having to buy a ton of hardware. Use a small amount of olive oil — just enough to coat the bottom on the pan — and bring it up to medium heat. The key to a good sear, the beautiful crust on the outside, is having the pan nice and hot. You can check if the pan is hot enough by placing your hand 1-2 inches over the bottom. When you can no longer keep it there for five seconds, it’s ready to go.
Give the New York strip about five to six minutes on each side, and it’s as easy as that. Keeping it in the pan longer on each side will affect the doneness. This steak should never be more than medium. The easiest way to tell the doneness of the cut is by using your own hands and comparing them to the steak. When touching the tip of your index finger to the tip of your thumb, poke the muscle at the base of your thumb. That is what a rare steak should feel like when you poke it. Your middle finger is medium rare. You ring finger equals medium and your pinky is medium-well, but we will not be encouraging the use of pinky fingers. Ideally, you want something between the ring and middle finger. Poke your hand and then poke your steak to compare.
Once done, let your steak rest five minutes off the heat and on a plate. Do not cut into it until after waiting, or you’ll risk losing the delicious juices. Bon appetit, Beavers!