Few dishes compare to a hunk of juicy steak.
And even fewer home-cooked steaks compare to those of your local favorite steakhouse.
From fridge to plate, there are a lot of little secrets steakhouse chefs employ.
Thanks to executive chef Billy Oliva, we’re now hip to those secrets. Oliva oversees the kitchen at one of Wall Street’s favorite steakhouses, Delmonico’s, established in 1837.
Here he lists nine common mistakes that keep home-cooked steaks from reaching their full flavor potential.
1. Don’t cook a steak that’s fresh from the fridge.
Oliva says this is the No. 1 mistake people make when preparing steak. “In the restaurant, we always like the steaks to come up to room temperature because you get a more even cooking process … If it’s too cold, the outside will char and the inside will be a little bit rarer than it should be.”
2. Don’t put a piece of steak in a pan or on a grill that isn’t screaming hot.
If you don’t let the pan heat up, you’ll lose out on caramelization and you’ll end up steaming your steak. The juice and blood will escape, and you’ll be left with what Oliva describes as “that gray piece of meat.”
3. Don’t be afraid to douse the steak with seasoning.
According to Oliva, people either don’t season the steak enough or they season only one side. “We season both sides,” he said. “We use a combination of kosher salt and sea salt, and we use a fresh-ground-pepper mix that has about seven different types of peppercorns in it.”
4. Don’t leave a steak on an open flame for too long.
When grilling a steak, sear it fast and move it to the side — unless you want a charred piece of meat. “What we like to do is sear it to give it color, and then move it to [a slightly] cooler part of the grill when we’re grilling … You want to cook around the open flame.”
5. Don’t poke the steak with a fork to see whether it’s done.
You’re testing steak, not cupcakes. “Once you poke a hole in it, all the blood and all the flavor and juices in the steak are going to leach out.”
6. Don’t flip the steak more than once.
Put it in a hot pan, leave it alone until it starts to caramelize, and flip it only once. “You don’t need to keep flipping it every two minutes because then you’re removing the steak from the hot surface. You’re kind of defeating the purpose of searing the outside and locking in all the juices.”