Photos by Rochelle Li, Words by Grady Erickson
The other day I was browsing online when I stumbled across this Bloomberg Business article. Recently, a rancher in Oklahoma purchased a jet-black bull by the name of Momentum for $130,000. Now to put that into perspective for you, a normal bull sells for roughly $7,000, making Momentum about 18 times more expensive than a typical bull. Momentum’s worth stems from his genes. All of the calves that have been bred from Momentum have been prime steak cattle, gathering attention from fine steakhouses all over the country.
According to IBIS World US, the premium steakhouse restaurant industry brought in $5.7 billion in revenues in 2013. The industry has more than tripled in growth in the last five years, with plans to grow even further in the future. Tandem to the growth is an increase in steakhouse prices. This leads to beef cattle suppliers increasingly trying harder to provide better quality beef at an equally higher price.
All of that beef talk had not only gotten me hungry, but made me realize that while steakhouse steaks are good, it isn’t that difficult for anyone to make a great steak at home for half the cost. In fact, I was not alone in this thought. There are online communities, like Reddit's /r/steak subreddit, that are completely devoted to great homemade steaks.
While the quality of the beef matters, there are several techniques and tricks that you can use to dress up any steak and ensure a steakhouse-worthy steak in the comfort of your own home:
One of the most trendy culinary, and steak preparing, techniques right now is Sous Vide method, which is French for “under vacuum.” To cook a steak using the Sous Vide method, you vacuum seal the steak in a bag and place it in water that is the temperature of the steak’s desired internal temperature. You can than let the steak sit in the water for as long as you wish once it reaches the temperature of the water. There are Sous Vide machines in the market, however it is possible to make one using household items like pots or coolers. Once the steak is taken out of the water, it is seared at a very high heat on all sides. The center of this steak will be the perfect level of done and it will have a nice crust on the outside.
While the Sous Vide method is the perfect blend of innovative cooking and craftsmanship, it is often hard to do on a novice basis. The reverse sear method will yield an equal result in an easier way. The reverse sear method requires the steak to be cooked in the oven initially at a low heat, say 225, until its internal temperature reaches slightly under the temperature desired. Then, like the Sous Vide method, the steak is seared at a high heat on all sides until it is perfect.
Once you have your cool, new steak cooking method down, you can add even more ingredients to the equation, elevating the steak even further into award-winning steakhouse territory. First things first, make sure you bring your steak to room temperature before you start the cooking process. Season the steak with sea salt, like Fleur de Sel or French sea salt, and pepper and let it rest. Then, right before you throw the steak in the oven or vacuum pack it in a bag, top it with a stick of truffle butter and a few sprigs of thyme. After the steak is at its prime searing temperature, take it out of the oven or bag and let it rest covered in tin foil for ten minutes while you heat up a cast iron skillet with high smoke-point oil (like Safflower oil) and wait for it to get extremely hot. Finally, as hard as it sounds, let the steak rest for a few minutes after it is seared before you cut it--I promise it will be worth the wait!
Next time you are craving steak, remember that you have a plethora of worthy steakhouses at your disposable. However, you also have an arsenal of steak cooking methods and secrets that can create a great steak at home as well. Regardless, you won’t be disappointed with your choice of one of America’s fastest growing favorite foods.