Are you tired of poorly cooked steaks? Proper steak thickness is a crucial factor in achieving the perfect cook, and every BBQ enthusiast knows this.
In this article, we will discuss the ideal thickness for different cuts of steak and how to achieve it. Whether you are an experienced pit master or are just starting to develop your grill skills, we hope this guide can help you ensure that your next batch of steaks comes out tender and juicy every time.
What’s the Best Thickness for Steak?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to the ideal thickness for steak, as different cuts require different cooking times and techniques. However, as a general rule, when grilling or searing steaks, aim for a cut that is 1-1.5 inches thick.
If the steak is thicker than this, it will be difficult to cook evenly on the outside without burning it or having an undercooked interior. For slow cooking methods such as braising or stewing, choose cuts that are around 1-2 inches thick, so they can absorb more flavor and remain tender throughout their longer cooking time.
Factors That Affect Steak Thickness
When selecting a cut of steak from your butcher – either online or at the grocery store – consider three main factors: the type of beef, the quality/grade of the beef, and your personal preference. Different types of beef have varying degrees of marbling, which will determine if a particular cut is best suited for fast grilling over high heat or slower braising with moisture retention in mind.
Quality also matters – higher grade meats tend to have more marbling with intramuscular fat, which provides plenty of flavor during cooking. Finally, consider your personal preference – if you want thicker filet mignons, ask your butcher! Just make sure that whatever size you choose will fit comfortably on your grill grate (if applicable) or in the vessel you plan on stewing them in.
How To Measure Steak Thickness
Properly preparing a good steak starts long before it goes on the fire. Ensuring that each piece is roughly equal in size not only looks neat, but it also ensures even doneness across all portions when they are cooked together.
There are two ways to accurately measure steak thickness: use either a ruler or measuring tape before cutting or cooking, or use an instant read thermometer after cooking. This second method works well if you are planning ahead, but you should always double-check the thickness once each slice has been made (even if you are using pre-packaged meat from the supermarket). No matter which method you use, remember that everyone loves uniformity!
How Thick Should Steak Be For Different Cooking Methods?
Grilling: When barbecuing large steaks like ribeyes, T-bones, New York strips, etc., opt for pieces that are around 1-1.5 inches thick. These cuts usually benefit from remaining slightly pink on the inside, which helps keep the temperature consistent throughout the steak without creating burnt exteriors. Additionally, many people find thinner, fattier cuts more flavorful. Depending on your personal taste, adjust the thickness accordingly.
Searing: Filets, pork chops, chicken breasts, and their Japanese counterparts like kushiyaki and sashimi tuna all benefit from being cooked quickly over direct heat. The optimal range for these cuts is anywhere between half an inch and one inch. Thin slices should be seared quickly, while thicker slabs will take longer. The same principles apply to non-meat proteins. Of course, depending on the desired texture and degree of doneness, allow yourself room for error and measure things very carefully. Even a one degree difference can make a substantial change in the results.
Slow Cooking: If you need meats that will retain their juiciness yet stay intact during extended low temperature cooking, such as in soups, stews, etc., then look for thicker cuts. This means anything roughly between a single to two-inch mark. Thicker cuts will also absorb flavorful liquids more quickly, and they will turn succulent and soft when cooked properly. They will be ready to go whenever you need them, making them the perfect warm and happy soul food to emerge from the oven or slow cooker.
Tips For Achieving The Perfect Steak Thickness
Buying tools specifically designed for slicing, measuring, and/or cooking steaks can make the process easier and more precise. For example, a meat slicer or mandoline can help you achieve even slices every time, while a meat thermometer allows you to gauge the doneness of your steak without cutting into it (which can cause juices to escape). If you don’t want to invest in specialty tools, a sharp kitchen knife and a regular ruler or measuring tape will also do the trick.
In conclusion, the best thickness for steak depends on the cooking method and personal preference. Grilling and searing work best with thinner cuts (1-1.5 inches), while slow cooking methods like braising and stewing require thicker cuts (1-2 inches).
Consider the type of beef, quality/grade, and personal preference when selecting your steak, and use measuring tools or a meat thermometer to ensure even cooking and desired doneness. With a little practice and the right tools, you can achieve perfectly cooked steaks every time.