Personal Chef Cooking Secrets: Mouthwatering Steak
This is a technique I learned working for some of the best chefs in Chicago. As a personal chef, it’s important to be creative but even more important to remember that technique is king! This is perfect for small private events because it’s a slow forgiving cooking technique.
Gathering Ingredients & Supplies
Choose that cut of beef
First things first, what do you need in order to be successful during our steak cookery? Well luckily for this adventure very few supplies are needed and what you will need to tap into is your inner Michelin Star chef. Okay, so let’s talk about ingredients. Let’s pick out the piece of meat we want to cook! Any piece of tender beef will do just fine for this technique. A few great options are tenderloin, t-bone, ribeye, skirt steak & my personal favorite is hanger steak. Some of these steaks will cook faster because of the thickness but I have always found the density, the versatility, and flavor of the hanger steak to be most excellent.
Choose your other ingredients
I keep it super simple when choosing ingredients for an already perfect cut of steak. Today we are going to be working with butter, salt, garlic, and herbs.
Starting with butter – there are plenty of types of butter at various prices, textures, and flavors. For this get some whole butter from your local grocer, keep it simple and call it a day. We are going to brown it and soak it in beefy deliciousness anyway so don’t spend a bunch of money playing around with some gourmet ish because we are going to party hard with it anyway. If I am being honest – I buy the one on sale – 2 for $5. You can bet on that.
FAQ Alert: Can you use another fat?
Absolutely. If you are going to use another fat remember temperature control is going to be a factor. When you use butter its easy to see it start to brown. So when its browning us know you need to regulate the temperature so you don’t burn the butter but also so you do not overcook parts of the steak.
Again, there are plenty of types of salts. Some are smoked, some have $3 million worth of truffles dried up in them, others come from the Himalayas where some poor SOB with a hammer had to forage a glacial rock for you. Luckily for you – all you have to do is reach into your cabinet and grab some table salt. If you want to be fancy get some Kosher Salt. I use kosher salt because I find it’s easiest to get a nice even “Salt Bae” effect when seasoning my meat. 😅
FAQ Alert: Do you also use pepper or other seasonings on your steak?
Answer: I do not. Here’s why. Steak is delicious. The only thing steak needs to taste good is some salt & heat to bring out the flavors of beef and push the aromas to the surface. Now what I will do oftentimes is make a sauce for the steak. In that case, you should do everything in your power to make that sauce amazing. So that’s where you can get wild. But when it comes to an already perfect piece of meat I keep it simple and season it with salt.
Garlic & Herbs
So, here is the beauty of cooking. It is mostly technique and seasoning – the rest is wide open for interpretation. You can also look at the garlic & herbs as “blank & blank”. If you don’t like garlic use shallots, onion, or chives. Maybe you don’t like herbs – don’t use them. I usually use garlic and fresh thyme. That’s traditional AF and if you are trying to be super trad stick with the winners.
FAQ Alert: Can I use dried herbs or powdered versions of these items?
Sure, but do you really want garlic powder or dried herbs stuck to your steak? The reason why we use fresh herbs is that it captures the essence and the flavor of the ingredients without physically putting them in your mouth. Our goal here is to extract the flavors from our ingredients and use them to enhance the characteristics of the steak.
Choosing A Pan
Most personal chefs can spend hours and hours talking about their favorite type of pan, cookware, and which metal conducts the most heat. Well, I cant. So grab a pan that fits the amount of meat your cooking – don’t think too much about it otherwise you might starve trying to figure it out. Here’s a tip if it doesn’t have a hole in the bottom of it and at least a 1-inch lip – you win – use it.
FAQ Alert: Should I use a nonstick?
Yes – just remember nonstick pans are the pampered Pollyanna version of cookware so if you use a metal utensil such as a spoon or tong while cooking you might scrape the bottom of the pan and hurt its feelings. (😢 Sad times)
Sheet Trays, Cooling Racks, Parchment Paper & Tweezers
These culinary tools are extra. But we are going to go over it because it yields the best results. Can you cook a perfect steak without these components? Sure, but this is easiest.
Sheet trays – I love them. They are flat pieces of metal basically sturdy enough to hold food, they fit well into ovens and other spaces of the rectangular type. Get some parchment paper. The parchment paper keeps your flat pieces of metal clean and it looks nice. Of all the tools above, cooling racks are the most important for the cookery.
We use the cooling rack for seasoning which offers even distribution of salt. It allows for airflow for cooking the beef in the oven. IF we just cook the steak on a flat surface, chances are the part that’s touching the sheet tray will have an uneven overcooked mark. (Sorry Gordon Ramsey)
Lastly, we will use our tweezers to temp our meat. WTF does this mean? I was taught how to temp meat a ton of different ways. But nothing has been more effective than feeling the pain of the beef you are cooking. If you pop the tweezers into the center of the beef and put the tweezers up to your cheek the metal should be just hot enough that it is uncomfortable but should not burn you.
That uncomfortable feeling is about medium-rare. You use a thermometer for sure – 100%. This other method will impress your friends and it adds an element of magic to the cookery. Think of it as your magic wand. This really puts you in touch with the food you are cooking instead of relying on a thermometer or touching the meat constantly with your paws. (Which isn’t accurate) The tweezer method is good for business I promise
Let’s Get Cooking
Temper Yo Beef
I like to temper my beef. I pull it out about an hour before I am ready to cook it. I do this for two reasons beef tempered at room a comfortable room temperature helps with even cooking time as well as speedier cook time. So pull out your beef and place is it on your parchment covered sheet tray and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
Set Your Oven
In the meantime set your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, this is a low and slow technique so we want our oven relatively low. The results I promise you are that of a sous-vide piece of beef. You can use the convection oven setting although if you use convection I have seen that it almost works too well. Inn order to combat the overcooking, if you decided to use the convection oven try setting it at 250 degrees Fahrenheit – I’ve found this to work about the same as a regular oven set at about 300 with no fan. Let it be known, once you get good at this method you will learn how to adapt to almost any temperature setting and achieve the same results. However again I want to keep this process as forgiving as possible for the first time doing it so we must proceed with gentleness and 300 degrees is a decent starting point.
Now that we have our oven set and beef tempered let’s get that pan ripping!
Heating the pan and add your butter, garlic, and herbs!
For every ounce of steak, I use a tablespoon of butter, 6 clove of garlic, and 20 sprigs of thyme. Let’s be honest, when it comes to this make sure you have enough butter to cover the pan about ⅛” inch and use as much garlic and herbs you want.
FAQ Alert: How high should I keep my flame?
That really depends on how awesome or shotty your appliances are and how fast you want your butter to brown. Cooking is all about the regulation of heat. For this first time around take it slow but also have the confidence to turn it up and down depending on the sounds, sights, and smell of what’s happening in the pan.
Turn the heat on about half intensity and add the butter. Once the butter starts to melt we are going to let it do just that. While your butter is melting season the steak liberally from a distance of at least 8inches above the meat turning it slightly all the way around so that the surface of the meat is completely seasoned. Now that the butter has melted, wait for it to bubble slightly and add your garlic and herbs. Start to swirl it around until there is an aroma of butter, garlic, and thyme. Finally, add your steak.
This is a really important part because we want to baste the steak in the butter. We want to turn the steak frequently so that each and every nano-inch of the beef is kissed with our butter. It is important to move the beef around no less than every 30 seconds so that the inside doesn’t cook. What we are doing is creating a flavorful buttery garlic herb crust. Once the butter begins to brown we can pull our steak and put it on the cooling rack and toss it straight in the oven.
Every 5 minutes we are going to test our temperature of the beef as well as flipping the beef over so that the juices flow evenly through the meat ensuring even cooking. For the temping: we can use the thermometer first. If you decide to use the thermometer to test the beef also put it up to your cheek. Start to get the feeling of the desired temperature of the steak – that way, soon you will be a master at feeling the temperature without the thermometer. Here is a quick guide:
125 F – Rare
135 F – Medium Rare
145 F – Medium
150 F – Medium Well
160 F – Well Done
Once the desired temperature is reached pull the steak our, leave it on the rack and let it rest for 5 minutes turning it once to keep the juices moving evenly through the beef.
While your steak is resting we need to deal with the butter. What we are going to do is turn the heat on high and begin to brown the butter. Swirl the butter in the pan or use a whisk to keep the milk solids in the butter from sticking to the bottom and burning. To make brown butter you basically toast the milk solids. You will know once this happens because the sizzling in the pan will begin to subside. Once the butter is brown strain the butter and reserve for later.
Cut the steak on a bias and against the grain. Fan the steak out and plate with the roasted garlic and herbs. Season the beef one last time with some finishing salt and gently spoon some warm brown butter over the steak.
So this is one secret to my success as a personal chef – cooking a perfect steak every time, your turn!