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mental_floss's Be More Interesting series will teach you new interesting skills. This week, Max Silvestri learns to cook the perfect steak.

(And don't worry--the regular list show will continue on Wednesday!)

Music provided by Scorebuzz Music.
Max: Today we're going to get pointers from Chef Morgan Jarrett of Nightingale 9, so that your friends won't call you a lying weasel next time you put on that "World's Greatest Chef" apron.


Max: So, Morgan, today you can help me cook the perfect steak.

Morgan: Of course.

Max: What does the perfect steak mean to you?

Morgan: The first, most important thing is where you get it from, how thick it's cut, for me I prefer dry-aged beef, grass-fed.

Max: What does that do for a steak, to age it?

Morgan: It removes excess moisture slowly from the steak, so that whenever you are cooking the steak, you're getting the most concentrated beef flavor, and it's actually a little better for you too.

Max: Do you not like a lot of sauces or, you know, marinades on steak?

Morgan: I'm not into marinades, especially since we're talking about this steak that has just been dry-aging for at least 28 days. The last thing I want to do, personally, is put it back into a wet bath of marinade.

Max: Now, what sort of thickness do you want, for like, a steakhouse steak at home?

Morgan: You need at least an inch to an inch-and-a-half thick for your steak, especially if you want to accomplish that perfect medium rare and that char.

Max: What else do I need in my house to cook a perfect steak?

Morgan: Hopefully things you already have on hand: a really good Kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper, some really good butter, canola oil, and I like to finish my steak off with a little bit of thyme and garlic and another hit of butter. That's kind of a restaurant secret.

Max: So these are our very pretty steaks here. What sort of steak is this?

Morgan: A dry-aged new York strip steak.

Max: The new York strip.

Morgan: The new York strip is my preferred cut and you see just a nice little bit of marbling throughout, a little bit down the sides.

Max: What part of the cow is the strip steak from?

Morgan: This is from the strip loin, which all of our major cuts of meat that you get in steak houses are going to be from the back side of the cow.

Max: Just go into your butcher shop and ask for the laziest, butt-iest part of the cow. Show me how to cook the steak.

Max: Turn this on... If I can get it... Let's take a break. So, how hot do you want a pan for a steak?

Morgan: We want it almost as hot as possible so let's go for a medium-high heat.

Max: Do you want them right out of the fridge or should they be sitting?

Morgan: No, it's very important that the steak is tempered for at least an hour at room temperature. it's going to relax the meat. It's going to give us a more even cook throughout and a more tender steak.

Max: Do you want to season them first?

Morgan: Yeah, this is one of the most important steps in the whole process. You're going to use a little more salt, a little more pepper, than you might actually think.

Max: Ok, this is how much I normally think you should use.

Morgan: Oh that's going to be horrible.

Max: Ok, ok, let's make it good then.

Morgan: You're going to cover...

Max: Woah!

Morgan: Yeah, exactly.

Max: It looks like it fell into the salt.

Morgan: Some of it's going to come off. Put a little on the side, if you're feeling a little crazy.

Max: Girl, you crazy.

Morgan: I want to season from up here, you know, this gets spread out. We're going to get it started a little bit with some oil, not too much. It's going to help us get a nice crust on the steak and get the steak going a little faster and a nice char on the outside and I'm going to do just a little in the pan.

Max: Oh, so there's also pan oils.

Morgan: Alright, let's get our steak going.

Max: And if it sizzles...

Morgan: Perfect, that's what we want.

Max: Now, should I just touch it and flip it and prod it and press it constantly?

Morgan: You need to leave it alone.

Max: Leave it alone.

Morgan: Yeah, do not annoy the steak.

Morgan: It might be ready to flip so we're just going to take a peek. How are we looking? Looks pretty good... I think we better go ahead and flip this steak if we want to get a medium rare.

Max: That's got a nice brown there.

Morgan: We're going to throw it a generous dose of butter.

Max: Dose? That sounds like a prescription.

Morgan: That's like, steakhouse 101.

Max: Cover it in butter.

Morgan: Bathe it in butter before it hits the plate and we're also going to kind of infuse the butter. It's nothing fancy or crazy when I say infuse, all we're going to do is put the butter, thyme, and garlic in there.

Max: So, we do that now or do we wait until it's done?

Morgan: Let's take a peek and see how our crust on the bottom is looking.

Max: Another peek. I like how it's a little like "oh" we're not really looking.

Morgan: We're looking pretty good there.

Max: Oh, it's looking pretty good.

Morgan: Let's get a little crust on that side. Let's hang out there for about 30 seconds or so.

Max: Um...

Morgan: I think that's good why don't you go ahead and tip it back over.

Max: Ok, oh yeah, that's got a nice crust there.


Morgan: Alright now let's throw some butter in the pan.

Max: Ok, right on top?

Morgan: No, right here.

Max: Oh, on the side. It's like hanging out here.

Morgan: Yeah, little bit more, little bit more, don't be shy.

Max: I'm not shy.

Morgan: Ok, get your pan towel.

Max: Pan towel!

Morgan: Why don't you tip that over just a little bit.

Max: So I want to tip it this way?

Morgan: Yeah, why don't you pull it toward you a bit... there you go... then you're going to want to--see I'm getting that thyme in there--

Max: Oh yeah you're getting all that butter up and that thyme and that garlic.

Morgan: Here we can turn our pan off at this point.

Max: Ok. So this is like the restaurant trick. I've never done this when I'm cooking a steak.

Morgan: This is the restaurant trick. I'm even going to let the garlic get on there now. And.. see it's absorbed most of the butter.

Morgan: Let's get it out of the pan.

Max: Ok. How long should you let the steak rest here? It's kind of difficult with how good it smells to let it just sit there without eating it.

Morgan: It's the hardest part. It's going to be about 2 minutes. You want the meat to relax and the juices to distribute into the meat.

Max: Can we cut into it now?

Morgan: We're ready!

Max: Ok. It's a little pink there, that's pretty good.

[Eats steak]

Max: Mmm. It's definitely beefy, like you were saying. Definitely get that butter, which is very nice. It's what separates it from being one of my famous low-heat steam steaks. I really thought you were putting too much salt on there... doesn't taste overly salty, at all... tastes like what you'd order in a restaurant.

Max: Now you know the keys to a perfectly cooked steak are quality meat, butter, salt, and resting. Q.B.S.R. "Qua-bay-ser." And nothing pairs better with a qua-bay-ser'd steak like Dos Equis. Until next time, I'm Max Silvestri for Mental Floss and Dos Equis, reminding you to stay interesting.