Cooking the perfect steak: Houston's original celebrity chef has 5 tips to ensure you don't screw up your meat
This unfortunate turn of events is all too familiar. You trek to the market, befriend the butcher, drop hard-earned cash on a couple of top-notch cuts of meat only to return home and ask yourself: What now?
Do you use a rub? Do you massage your grandma's secret blend of spices all over the steak? Do you marinate? What's the optimal cooking time? What's the preferred temperature setting? Grill? Bake? Sear?
Before long, the promise of silky smooth, buttery steaks turns into a catastrophe of gray, rubbery, leathery viands that doesn't live up to expectations.
Shame. Shame. Shame.
Help is on the way by means of Robert Del Grande, executive chef of RDG + Bar Annie. With steak one of the most popular items on the restaurant's menu, this celebrity chef, who started a career in biochemistry before turning to cooking as his life's métier, knows how to break down the process of dishing up the perfect steak for the home cook. It isn't rocket science, just plain kitchen smarts.
While preparing to lead a series of dinners plus cooking classes at RDG this summer, Del Grande invited CultureMap, armed with a camera, to learn just how the pros do it.
Tip #1 - Leave it alone
The best steak doesn't need much of anything. Del Grande suggests waiting to season until the end. A simple rub of vegetable oil stops the protein from sticking to the grill. That's it. Nothing to it.
Tip #2 - Build a sizzling hot fire
Although home grills may not be able to reach the 1,000-degree temperatures that professional equipment yields, it's critical that the cooking surface is blazing hot. Lower temperatures may lead to steaming or baking the steak, the main culprits behind dreadful disappointments.
Tip #3 - Watch it and don't overcook
Del Grande's rule of thumb: Cooking time is about 10-minutes per inch of thickness. But don't depend on a timer to herald when the steak is ready to eat. Look for juices that bubble up to the top. If those juices start sweltering from the bottom of the grill, call it quits and go cry on a corner. It's too late, and there's no going back.
Tip #4 - Let it rest and relax
Whatever you do, stay clear from cutting into the steaks as soon as you remove them from the fire. Steaks need between five to 10 minutes resting time so the juices return to the center.
Tip #5 - Keep it simple
The best cuts of meats don't need much more than salt, pepper, maybe garlic and some herbs. Del Grande finishes his rib eye simply with a drizzle of olive oil or melted butter.
Robert Del Grande hosts "How To Grill a Steak" at RDG + Bar Annie on Saturday, 6 p.m. Tickets are $75 and include cocktails, wine and hors d'oeuvres. An optional three-course Steakhouse Dinner follows at 8 p.m. for an additional $75 plus tax and gratuity.