Hot and Fast
Some cuts of beef -- especially, but not exclusively, sexy steaks from the rib and short loin -- are fantastic when prepared simply. Our only job as cooks is to not screw them up.
In those cases, it's best to just cook the cut hot and fast -- high heat, quickly, and get out of the way.
Everyone has an opinion on how to do this, and many of them are valid. Here's a good general approach, to be modified to your particular situation.
- Thaw the meat, and bring it all the way up to room temperature. (Cold spots = uneven cooking.) Pat dry.
- Salt the meat. Use kosher salt, sprinkled from up high. Be generous. (Skip pepper -- it'll burn.)
- Leave steak alone for exactly 45 minutes at room temperature. Let the salt work.
- Preheat the grill or skillet until it approximates the surface of the sun.
- Sear the meat to a dark mahogany color. (On a grass fed steak approximately an inch and a half thick, this will be in the neighborhood of ninety seconds. Grass fed beef cooks more quickly than grain fed.) Flip.
- Sear the other side for approximately the same amount of time, to just under medium-rare. (Be sure check for doneness -- via a very small incision, if you have to). Remove from heat
- Rest the steaks on a plate for five minutes, loosely tented with foil. (They'll continue to cook a bit while resting.)
- Serve. Graciously accept compliments .
Some people don't believe bringing the steaks fully to room temperature is necessary, but there's no harm in it.
Debates rage on whether it's best to salt well in advance (as I do here), just before cooking. I tend to fall into the advance camp, but salting just before cooking won't wreck things. Just don't split the difference -- salt immediately before cooking, or 45 minutes in advance. Some experiments show that anything in between results in a less juicy steak.
But hot and fast outdoors likely means grilling. Now let's talk about something different -- barbecue.