Steak night is a joyous occasion in my house. It’s a dinner that I look forward to all day, if not all week. I chalk it up to our Neanderthal ancestors bringing their families together to ceremoniously feast after a big hunt.
The Chicago butcher shop is known as one of the finest purveyors of artisan red meat in Windy City. In addition to chicken, chops, and brats, the box included two beautiful bone-in New York Strip steaks.
I couldn’t wait to fire up my cast iron skillet.
In my experience, too many people overthink a steak dinner. The entire point of the occasion is that it’s primitive.
Its beauty is in its simplicity: Meat, some no-frills sides like potatoes and sauteed onions for sustenance, and a refreshing beer or wine to wash it all down.
Here are my five rules for steak night done right.
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Bone-in + marbling
Let’s start with the meat itself. As the saying goes, fat is flavor. It’s the simplest rule of thumb to remember when you head to the butcher.
Seek out cuts of steak with elegant marbling – the more intricate, the better, in my experience. Marbling adds flavor and juiciness as the fat melts into the steak. The result is a piece of meat that’s tender and full of flavor.
Another steak truism: Bone-in is always the move. Level-up by going bone-in.
If you’re cooking for flavor vs. ease, a bone-in steak will always taste better than boneless. The flavors of the bone get absorbed into the beef during cooking. Some culinary figures say this is hogwash or an old wives tale, but bone-in steak always resulted in the most sublime steak dinners in my experience.
Pull the steaks out of the fridge, pat them dry, and bring to room temperature
The theory behind this is that you want your meat to cook evenly, so having the meat at a higher temperature before it hits the cooking surface helps.
Pull it out of the fridge, pat your steaks nice and drive, and apply your seasoning so it has ample time to soak into the meat.
Don’t overdo the seasoning
Speaking of seasoning – don’t overdo it!
Variety may be the spice of life, but with so many actual varieties of spices these days, it’s easy to go overboard with the seasoning and mistakenly think you’re enhancing the flavor.
Keep it simple: Salt, pepper, onion, and garlic. I’ve had some wonderful seasonings with coffee grounds and bell pepper, all of which create a complicated flavor profile for the finished steak.
Cook in a cast-iron skillet with olive oil, on medium-high heat
Throw a tablespoon of butter. Then throw your steaks in when it gets foamy.
Listen to that glorious sizzle while it sears.
I’ve learned from experience that searing steak at too high of a temperature can ruin an otherwise great meal. Don’t overdo your heat. For a thick steak, a medium-high helps cook the steak evenly from edge to center. Keep a watchful eye on it.
I like to cover the pan for a minute or two so the heat goes into the steak, retaining moisture. After about five minutes, it’s done exactly how I want it Purple-pink on the inside (see pic above).
This becomes a bit of a sixth sense after doing it enough times. Because data is important, you can also use a meat thermometer and pull it when it hits an internal temperature of 120 degrees.
Let it rest before slicing!
Patience is a virtue. The worst thing you can do *after* pulling your steak off the cooking surface is immediately starting carving into it.
Yes, you’re hungry. But trust me – crack yourself a beer and chill out for a second.
Give it five minutes to rest off heat. This allows the fat to return to the center of the steak. After five minutes, slice away.
Pair with a refreshing beverage
Unlike some other steak snobs, I won’t judge you for reaching for steak sauce. Personally, I like the occasional drizzle of Worchestire sauce or dab of fresh horseradish to accompany a steak.
Also: Don’t overthink your sides. I like to sautee onions and mushrooms with my steak. I’m plenty happy with steamed broccoli, asparagus, or Brussel sprouts on the side, along with a baked potato.
Red wine and whiskey are delightful pairings to turn steak night into an occasion. But I like to keep it simple with a refreshing, no-nonsense beer like a Pilsner Urquell.
Craft beers tend to be too hoppy or overly complicated, taking away from the steak’s flavor. Call me crazy, but steak should be the star of your steak nights, after all.
Pilsner Urquell has a lovely crispness from natural carbonation. With subtle caramel tones and a refreshing finish, it pairs beautifully with steak without taking away from the meal itself.
Brandon is BroBible.com’s publisher. If you enjoyed this article, follow him on Twitter at @brandonwenerd or drop him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org