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Steakhouse Tips from REAL Chefs

Posted by Jake Eller on

Steakhouse Tips from REAL Chefs
We here at Grillaholics fancy ourselves ‘experts’ in the fields of grilling and cooking. Grilling is a lifestyle for us -- we’d eat every single meal (and then some!) off the grill, if we could.
All of that being some point, you’ve got to defer to the actual professionals. Steakhouse chefs can cook literally hundreds of steaks per night, five nights a week. They have to accommodate any and every single temperature preference, while doing so with the finest steaks money can buy. So today, we thought we’d check in with some of our contacts at the best steakhouses in America to see what they’ve got to say. Here’s what they gave us.
Salt + Pepper + Butter
When chefs buy a high-quality protein to be served in their restaurant, the intention is for that protein to shine. To do that, salt and pepper are the first and most important steps. “We don’t want our steak to taste like garlic butter or thyme, or anything crazy,” one chef told us. “We want our steaks to taste like steak. So we don’t use anything besides a lot of salt and pepper.” That’s right folks. All the fancy compound butters and dry rubs you might want to put on your next ribeye? Next time, consider leaving them out. By just using salt and pepper, you’re going to bring out all of that perfect, fatty flavor, and skip the distractions. As well, be very, very generous with the salt and pepper! It’s very difficult to overseason a steak, and the salt granules are going to help develop that nice crust on the outside of your meat.
Oh, and one more thing -- butter! Then, once your steak is done, bring out the (salted!) butter. We spoke to three different steakhouses for this article, and each one recommended brushing some melted butter over your finished steak. It will, of course, add flavor, but also significantly impact the mouthfeel of the steak.
Hot Hot Heat
In steakhouse settings, the steaks are typically cooked on large, infrared broilers. These broilers can get well over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. If you cranked your stove up this high (somehow), you’d likely end up with a fire on your hands -- or at least, a whole lot of smoke. So, barring the possibility of ordering a commercial broiler to your home (this seems unlikely), how do we achieve these ultra-high temperatures? Well, the answer is on the grill, and in a pan.
The hottest cooking appliance you have is likely your grill. So, crank that bad boy all the way up, and put a cast-iron pan on the grates. We’d suggest letting the pan sit empty and dry on the heat for about five minutes. From there, season your steak with oil, salt, and pepper, and gently put it in the pan. Note -- It’s important to oil the steak, not the pan!
Once that steak is in the pan, you’re going to see a lot of smoke, but don’t be alarmed -- that’s why we took this party outside! Give your steak three minutes on each side, or until you see that beautiful brown crust, and then finish in a 400-degree oven. The temperature you’re going to aim for in the oven is right around 100 degrees.

But wait -- that’s not medium rare! Well, keep reading…!
Carryover Cooking
This is one that home cooks often see as an inconvenience, or as something to watch out for. But for the steakhouse chef, carryover cooking is yet another tool in the arsenal to make cooking faster, easier, and more successful.
In short, carryover cooking is when a piece of food retains heat and continues to cook, even after being removed from the heat source. This applies to every bit of food you can cook, but it’s particularly noticeable with steak. On a hot day, carryover cooking can take your perfect medium-rare to the high end of medium.
At steakhouses, chefs remove their steaks from the heat far beneath the desired temperature. This allows for carryover cooking and resting to occur simultaneously. With enough practice, these chefs know exactly when the steaks are ready to begin the carryover cooking process. This not only saves time, but it gives you free hands to do something else (read: grab a cold beer) while your steak finishes ‘cooking’!
Skip the Grocery Store,  Go to the Butcher
Sourcing a steak is just as important as the technique in cooking a steak. Steakhouses work closely with incredibly talented butchers to make sure their cuts are exactly what they are looking for every time (a steak that’s custom-butchered this way is referred to as being ‘to spec’). Each cut on the menu has gone through a rigorous vetting and testing process to ensure that there is no better way to source and butcher that individual steak. It’s one of the most time-consuming (but enjoyable) parts of being a steakhouse chef.
Unfortunately, home cooks likely don’t have that option in the cards. While we can’t go through dozens of iterations of a single cut to find the perfect option, we can develop a relationship with our local butcher. Chances are, they’ve got years of experience and knowledge that they are happy to share with you. Getting steaks from a local, small-scale butcher is going to guarantee a higher-quality product than visiting the local supermarket. As well, butchers are typically more willing to cut a specific piece of meat for you. Trust us -- if there’s someone who can help you find that perfect, steakhouse-quality cut...they don’t work at your local big-box supermarket!
Get Cookin!
So there you have it, folks! We spent the weekend rustling through our contacts to find some of the best professional chefs we know, and that’s what we found! Cooking in a steakhouse is half art, half science. While you might not be able to have a full-on steakhouse experience every night, you can definitely bring some of it to your own home! Pair these tips with some buttery, whipped mashed potatoes and a hearty red wine, and man -- you’re in for a good time!