You bought a selection of USDA prime beef steak. You’ve done your homework, and found the perfect cut. You’ve defrosted it correctly, and now it’s sitting on your counter, staring you down. You went above and beyond and spent money on the good stuff, and you want to make sure it comes out absolutely perfect.
First things first, you want to make sure that you season this baby to perfection. Now is not the time to skimp on the seasoning, and you want to give the steak that oomph of flavor. Take care with this step, as it can truly make or break your potential best kitchen creation.
Here’s what you need to know about seasoning your steak.
Be Bold with the Salt Seasoning
With a steak, like anything rich and fatty, be aggressive when seasoning it in order to achieve the ultimate amazing taste! One of the biggest and most common mistakes that steak cookers make is under-salting their steaks.
Think about it. Cuts of steak are ideally about an inch and a half thick, and you are only seasoning the outside of it. That’s why it’s so important to lay the flavor on thick on the outside of your steak. You want it to have enough flavor so that when you take a bite, it will be the perfect balance - a crusty outside bursting with flavor and a juicy (yet unseasoned) inside. Long story short, you want a balanced mouthful of steaky goodness.
In this process, salt is your steak’s best friend. However, it needs to be the correct kind of salt. Be sure to use kosher salt, not iodized just super-fine table salt. The kosher salt’s crystal size allows for its ultimate absorption into the steak.
When salting you steak, don’t be timid and don’t hold back - be bold! Generously coat all sides of your steak with your kosher salt. Make sure there is a visible layer of seasoning on every surface, without it piling up. Don’t be scared to get down and dirty with it and to pat the salt into the meat with your hands!
When to Season Your Steaks
For the ultimate savory steaks, salt them at least 30 minutes ahead of time, and let them sit at room temperature (you want them to be at room temperature when you cook them). The longer you let the salt sit on them, the longer it has to work its way into the meat!
For even better results, season them with salt and leave them uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. Above all, keep them cold when choosing this route! You don’t want any food poisoning.
Keep in mind that if you only give the salt 30 minutes to do the job, be sure to blot excess moisture off of the steaks before cooking, as the salt pulls it out. However, if you give the salt more time to get the job done, the brine will reabsorb into the meat.
Leaving them uncovered in the refrigerator overnight with salt will also give you the added bonus of drying out their exteriors, which results in extra delicious browning on their outsides when cooked!
Either way works, whether you want to salt ahead of time, or 30 minutes before cooking. It really just depends how crunched you are on time! Prepping a day ahead is always favorable! You don’t have to worry about forgetting to salt the meat the day of when your guests are showing up hungry, and you realize you forgot to salt them 30 minutes ahead of time.
Don’t undermine the magic of the salt when it comes to your steaks.
Other Tidbits to Factor in
Lay on the freshly ground black pepper about 30 minutes before cooking them as well. Don’t hesitate to rub this in either! Remember, the more pepper, the more delicious the steak crust will be.
Feel free to brush your steaks on all sides with oil right before cooking, but above all, make sure you choose a light oil that has a high smoking point, like canola oil or extra light olive oil.
Ok, so you’ve cooked your steak to perfection, whether you seared it, grilled it, or reverse seared it, you avoided the big steak-cooking no nos, and you let it rest afterwards so that you don’t lose any of that juicy goodness.
READ NEXT: How to Grill Your Steak the Right Way
Photo credit: Madie Hamilton