How to Cook a Tender T-Bone Steak

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Cooking a T-bone Steak
Cooking a T-bone Steak (Image: TheBusyBrain, CC license)

A good T-bone steak is an investment in a meal. You expect it to be tender and flavorful. How can you guarantee that your steaks will live up to your expectations come dinner time? Choose the right steak, prepare it properly, cook it quickly and you will not be disappointed.

Choose the right T-bone steak. Look for USDA Prime or USDA Choice meat. Most prime grade meat is sold to restaurants and specialty markets. If you are lucky enough to find a USDA Prime steak, it will be expensive, but worth the extra cost. USDA Choice T-bones are a nice alternative; although slightly lower in quality, they will be moist and tender when properly prepared.

Look for a steak that is well marbled with streaks of fat running throughout. There should also be a thin layer of fat around the edge of the steak. This is not the time to be fat conscious, as a lean steak is going to be dry and a bit tough.

Choose a dry-aged steak. Aged steaks are more tender and flavorful. Dry aging is the process of hanging a side of beef in a cold, dry room for six months or more to age the meat. The aging allows the tendons to break down and tenderizes the meat. Aging also darkens the color of the meat and intensifies the flavors.

Marinate your steak for 1 to 24 hours in the refrigerator. If you have chosen a good-quality, well-marbled steak, then marinating should not be necessary. If you are unsure of the tenderness of your steak, then marinating will tenderize it and add moisture and flavor.

Let the steak come to room temperature; 30 minutes on the counter will accomplish this. If you marinated your steak, drain away the marinade and dry the meat.

Preheat your grill, broiler or heavy skillet and apply a little oil to prevent sticking. A hot grill or pan will quickly sear the meat and seal in the juices.

Cut through the outside layer of fat to help the steak lie flat as the fat shrinks.

Grill, broil or pan fry the steak using high heat. Quickly sear the first side, then turn the steak to sear the other side. Your goal is to turn the steak only once and have the pan or grill preheated so that the steak will immediately sear, sealing in the juices.

Check the steak for desired doneness by touch or using a meat thermometer. The internal temperature for rare is 120 degrees F, medium rare is 126 degrees, medium is 135 degrees, medium well is 145 degrees and well done is 160 degrees.

Remove the steak from the pan or grill when done, cover it with foil or a domed lid and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.

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