Even top chefs mess up cooking steaks at times, so don’t worry if you don’t master the perfect steak in your first couple of attempts. Steak is difficult to cook because smaller cuts of steak dry out easily and can cook too quickly, making them tough on the teeth. In light of this, the best way to cook steak is to use a heavy frying pan or griddle (ridged pan) rather than an electric grill. This will allow you to control the temperature more easily.
The way you cook a steak largely depends on the cut and the thickness. For example, rump steak is firmer and juicier because it comprises several muscles, yet requires longer cooking than a soft-textured steak like a fillet. Of course, each person has his or her own steak preference, be it rare, medium rare, medium or well done. Therefore you need to know how long to cook for each preference.
Steak Cooking Times
The times below refer to a steak of 2.5cm (1 inch) thickness. Thicker steaks require a longer time and thinner steaks a shorter cooking time.
Rare Steak: 1-2 mins per side – rest for 6-8 minutes
Medium Rare Steak: 2-2.5 mins per side – rest for 5 minutes
Medium Steak: 3 mins per side – rest for 4 minutes
Well Done Steak: 4.5 mins per side – rest for 1 minute
Resting Your Steak
You may not have heard of this practice before, yet resting is of equal importance to cooking. Resting allows the meat to become moist and tender throughout. Over-resting is always better than under-resting and helps the steak achieve its maximum flavor and tenderness.
Preparation and Cooking
- Allow the steak to come to room temperature for approximately 20 minutes.
- If frozen allow to defrost overnight in a refrigerator in original packaging. Pat dry before cooking.
- Heat a griddle or frying pan over a high heat, but do not allow to smoke. A smoking pan means the pan is too hot and the steak will cook too quickly on the outside.
- Brush the steaks with canola, groundnut or olive oil. Paste some oil onto the pan to make sure the steak doesn’t stick.
- You should hear a sizzle upon pan entry. This will let you know the pan is hot enough.
- Use tongs to turn the steak for the required “per side” cooking time.
- To test if the steak is done gently press with the tip of your finger. Rare should be soft and supple, well done should be firm, and medium in between the two.