Cooking the Perfect Grass-fed Steak: A Detailed Guide (so it’s juicy and flavoursome)
Hungry for a perfectly cooked steak, without the price tag from an expensive restaurant?
We’ve outlined the best type of steak to use, the equipment you’ll need and the exact steps we use to prep and cook steaks for our family.
PS. This information is designed to be used in conjunction with our How to Cook the Perfect Grass-fed Steak cooking card. If you don’t have a copy, let us know, and we’ll pop one in the post for you (no charge for customers, otherwise $3 inc. postage).
Before you begin:
Because steak nights at home tend to be a special occasion, it’s worth learning the basics so it’s a delicious (and easy) experience.
But before you crank up the heat on your stove, knowing the basic principles about steaks and equipment will ensure the steaks you cook are perfectly juicy and flavoursome, every time.
It’s tempting to skip these preliminary steps because you’re hankering for a steak right now. But by spending an extra few minutes now, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.
The key to cooking a really great steak lies in the small details and the planning 😊
- Select the right type of steak. Just because it’s labelled as a steak, doesn’t mean it’s suitable for frying and grilling. To guarantee the very best result, choose Scotch Fillet, Porterhouse, or Eye Fillet. But mid-range cuts such as T-Bone, Rump or Oyster Blade will also work well. Because of their delicate flavours, these cuts are best seasoned simply (ie. sea salt and pepper) and not overpowered by marinades or dry rubs.
- Thickly cut steaks are easiest to cook. It’s best to use steaks that are at least 1 inch thick as they are less likely to dry out and become overcooked. If you want precision when it comes to doneness, aim for 1 – 1 ½ inches.
- Opt for steaks that are similar in size (or trim them, if necessary). Steaks that are roughly the same size will finish cooking at the same time, and you’ll have more control over their doneness.
- Don’t trim excess fat before cooking as it will add to the flavour and tenderness of your steak. If desired, trim fat off before serving.
- Use the right frypan. The best option is a large (30cm / 12 inch), heavy-based, well-seasoned wrought or cast-iron frypan. This size will be sufficient to cook 4 medium-sized steaks, and it naturally retains heat to ensure even cooking. Your frypan also needs to be oven-proof so you can finish cooking your steaks in the oven.
- Use the biggest burner on your stovetop. It’s important that the whole frypan surface is exposed to direct heat because you need an area that hasn’t just had meat resting on it when turning the steaks to cook the second side.
- Grab some tongs. This clever, inexpensive kitchen tool is the perfect way to turn your steaks, allowing you to perfectly position them, without piercing them.
- Have a kitchen timer ready. Once the pan is heated, it doesn’t take long to cook a steak. And because grass-fed beef cooks quickly, it can go from perfectly cooked to overcooked in less than a minute. It’s easy to get distracted in the kitchen, so don’t rely on memory, make it easier and use a timer. #reallife
- Invest in a quality instant-read thermometer. This is really the only way you can be sure you don’t over-cook or under-cook that precious meat cut. It’s especially good for determining if roasts are cooked to your liking.
Let’s cook steak:
Now that we’ve covered off the basics, you’re ready to dive into the 2-step method for cooking steaks. We start by pan searing to create a flavoursome crust, and then finish the cooking by roasting in a slow oven.
By following these simple steps, you’ll master the art of cooking a truly delicious grass-fed steak.
- Remove steaks from the fridge at least 30 minutes before cooking. A cold steak will quickly cool off your cooking surface, so avoid tough, dry meat by allowing steaks to come to room temperature.
- Pat steaks dry with paper towel. This helps achieve a fast, even sear on the steak surface. A wet surface on your steak means the meat will stew or steam, and you’ll miss out on the crisp, caramelised flavour that we all love.
- Heat your heaviest, largest, oven-proof frypan over high heat *, and preheat oven to 100˚C and move rack to the centre of the oven. Use the largest element on your stove to ensure your entire frypan heats evenly. This stovetop heating step usually takes 8 – 10 minutes. * Use medium-high for SOLIDteknics or cast iron enamelled pans.
- Meanwhile, lightly oil your steaks on both sides. Try olive oil, grapeseed oil or melted tallow or ghee. You don’t need much – about a teaspoon per side – just enough for a slight sheen. By oiling the steaks, and not the cooking surface, you’ll achieve a better crust, lock in the natural juices and the amount of smoke from heating the pan will be reduced.
- Season steaks liberally on both sides with sea salt. The oiled surface will help the salt stick. Other seasonings, including pepper, are best added after cooking so they don’t burn when exposed to the high heat.
- Ensure cooking surface is searingly hot before beginning to cook. If in doubt, sprinkle a few water droplets onto the surface – if they stay in a little ball and ‘dance’, you’re right to cook. If your steaks sizzle when they hit the surface, you’ve got the right temp!
- Using tongs, place steaks on the cooking surface so they are well spaced. Crowding the pan will mean steaks steam rather than brown. Aim for at least 1 inch of space around each steak. Cook in batches if necessary, to prevent stewing the meat.
- Once placed on the hot surface, do not move or re-position the steaks. Cook for 2 minutes. The meat will release easily when the crust has formed – if it’s sticking to the pan, it’s not ready to be turned.
- Turn steaks once. Aim to place on an area that hasn’t just had meat resting on it. Using a fresh place on the cooking surface will mean that spot is hotter, which helps create a flavourful crust on the second side.
- Cook the second side for 2 minutes. Resist the urge to press down or flatten the steak – you want as much fat (ie. flavour) in your steak as possible.
- (optional) Flip the steak to it’s edge, and render the fat. If there’s a strip of fat running along the edge of the steak, make full use of this inbuilt flavour-booster and moisture-enhancer by melting this fat for several minutes.
- Add a generous knob of butter or ghee on top of steaks to make a hot baste. Fresh herbs and sliced garlic will elevate the flavour, too. Use a large spoon to bathe the steaks in hot butter a few times.
- Place frypan containing steaks in a pre-heated oven and slowly cook til done to your liking *. This low-heat finishing method protects the muscle fibres from contracting too quickly, and avoids chewy, tough meat. Approximately 6 minutes for medium (60˚C), through to 14 minutes for well done (70˚C). If you like your meat still pink, remove from the heat just shy of your preferred doneness as it will continue to cook a little once it’s off the cooking surface. * Higher-end cuts are juiciest when served medium-rare to medium.
- There is no need to rest your steak – it tastes best when it’s hot! Serve it immediately on a warmed plate, with basting sauces spooned over, and another sprinkle of sea salt and a generous grind of black pepper.
There is one simple way to intensify the flavour of steaks and achieve a delicious crunchy texture. It’s called searing (or browning) the meat.
Searing relies on 2 factors:
- A smoking hot cooking surface – possible only with a heavy-based pan, and sufficient time to heat
- A dry surface on steaks – hence the advice to pay meat dry before cooking (any moisture will cool the pan and result in steaming rather than searing)
Get these 2 elements right, and you’re on your way to being able to cook a perfect steak.
Here’s to your luxurious steak-eating experience 😊