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Live to Eat Newsletter by The Healthy Butcher

Making Bread

How to Cook The Perfect Steak in a Pan

by Mario Fiorucci

If you believe that you need a barbeque to cook the perfect steak, think again.  In this newsletter we take you through five easy steps to cook the perfect steak in a $30 cast iron pan, on a stove, in the comfort of your own home.  The winter is a great time to enjoy an amazing steak.

BONUS: For this newsletter, we filmed Chef Jonathan demonstrating the technique!

But first, plenty of announcements...

The Healthy Butcher's Holiday Christmas Menu 2014

The Healthy Butcher's CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY MENU 2014 is now online!

We have everything you need to ensure an epic feast! Reserve early to avoid disappointment. CLICK HERE for a PDF version of our menu.

Our entire menu is also available for convenient home delivery throughout Toronto! CLICK HERE to peruse our offerings on, Toronto's best eGrocer. 


The Healthy Butcher's 2014 Holiday Gift GuideGIFT IDEAS?

CLICK HERE for The Healthy Butcher's 2014 Gift Guide

Or, CLICK HERE for a list of a full schedule of our popular classes at The Healthy Butcher... experience based gifts are never forgotten!


The Healthy Butcher voted Toronto's Best ButcherTHE HEALTHY BUTCHER VOTED TORONTO'S VEST BUTCHER, AGAIN!

Thank you Toronto! We are who we are because of our amazing customers, always driving us to improve, constantly pushing us to evolve. You not only voted us Toronto's Best Butcher, but Runner-Up in the Best Prepared Foods category, another highly competitive category! We are humbled. CLICK HERE to read more....

The Healthy Butcher's 3rd Road TripOur 3rd Healthy Butcher Road Trip took place last month and was another huge success. Almost 50 customers embarked on a full day tour of a beef farm, pig farm, duck farm, and even a processing plant! Transparency has always been one of our greatest strengths, and all who attended experienced first-hand that we don't just talk the talk, but walk the walk.

CLICK HERE to peruse a spectacular photo album (thank you to all who contributed!). Or for full write-ups, read Peter Visima's Blog HERE and Karon Liu's Blog HERE.  Till next year...

R.I.P. Keith GordonWe love sharing good news, and we tend to share a lot of it. It is with great sadness I share some bad news that needs to be shared. We lost Keith Gordon, a long time employee of our Queen Street store, to lung cancer. CLICK HERE to read more.




How to Cook The Perfect Steak in a Pan  



Below are step-by-step written instructions... But for this newsletter we also filmed Chef Jonathan demonstrating his pan grilling magic.


Step 1: Preheat your pan.
Place your pan on your stovetop and apply high heat. Do not place any cooking oils in the pan. 

Step 2: Season your steak
For a great quality steak (purchased at The Healthy Butcher), all you need is sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

If you want to truly kick it up a notch, we recently formulated the ultimate steak spice to be used on QUALITY steaks. We use a combo of sumac, cocoa, and coffee to enhance the umami beef flavour found in good steaks. Click here to get yours today.  

Step 3: Sear your steak.
One of the biggest culinary misconceptions of all time is the belief that searing meat “traps juices”. That belief has been scientifically disproven. You sear meat for the flavour it adds – that’s the bottom line. We discuss more of the science of searing in this newsletter.

Step 3(b): (OPTIONAL) Move your pan and steak into a preheated oven.
The majority of steaks are cut less than 1.25” thick, and therefore simply searing both sides on the stovetop will cook the steak to perfection. However, if you are cooking a thicker steak, or a tougher cut that requires longer heat to help break down fibres, then after you’ve flipped your steak the first time, move the pan into an oven preheated to 425F.  The surrounding heat in an oven will ensure the steak is cooked evenly, versus the high directly applied heat from the stovetop risks burning the outside. 

Step 4: Remove the steak when it reaches an internal temperature of 120F.
The most accurate gauge for doneness of meat is internal temperature; insert an instant-read meat thermometer through the side of the steak into the centre of the largest portion of the steak. To achieve The Perfect Steak, remove the steak from the grill when the internal temperature reads about 120F. The internal temperature will continue to rise about another 5F in the next step (resting). You’re looking for a final internal temperature around 125F. Here’s a visual of how the inside of the steak would look prior to resting: 

Blue rare steak
Blue rare (115F) - Seared on the outside, completely red throughout.  Meat remains gel-like in texture and difficult to chew; the juices are not yet flowing freely.

Medium (134F) - seared outside, 25% pink showing inside. A drier steak, but still palatable.
Rare (120F) - seared and still red 75% through the centre.  During the resting, the heat will transfer to the centre, the juices will be reabsorbed, and you have The Perfect Steak.

Medium well (150F) - done throughout with a slight hint of pink. Past the point of no return
Medium rare (126F) - seared with 50% red centre.  This steak is about 30 seconds passed it's prime.  After resting, it will look closer to medium.  It is not The Perfect Steak, but still acceptable.

Well done (160F) - 100% brown. This is a waste of a good quality steak.

In the absence of a meat thermometer, one of two other techniques will prove useful. The first is the time method; that is, a 1” steak over a hot grill will take approximately 3-4 minutes per side to reach rare; 4-5 minutes per side to reach medium-rare. Of course, steaks aren’t always going to be the exact same thickness, nor is your grill always going to be the exact same temperature.

The second method is the touch method. Loosely form a circle with your thumb and index finger of your left hand. With your right index finger, poke into the fleshy party of your left hand between your index finger and thumb. This is how a steak cooked rare will feel to the touch, i.e. it will offer very little resistance, be soft and springy. For medium-rare, make a circle with your middle finger and thumb of your left hand. Again, using your right hand index finger, poke the fleshy part. This is how a steak cooked medium-rare will feel to the touch, i.e. it feels less springy and a little firmer than the rare steak.

Step 5: Let it rest.
For an average 1-1.25” thick steak, let it rest for 5-7 minutes. For thicker steaks, tent it with foil and let it rest more than 7 minutes.

When you cook meat, the fibres contract and squeeze out the moisture akin to twisting a wet towel. The rest period allows the muscle fibers to reabsorb the juices, resulting in a more tender and succulent steak. If you slice your steak and juices run all over your cutting board, you didn’t let the steak rest long enough. That said, it’s a balance; if you wait too long, you’ll be serving cold meat. 

Step 6: Enjoy.
Why a Cast Iron Skillet and not a Stainless Steel Aluminum Clad pan?
I could answer with: Because a cast iron pan is cheap; or I could answer with: Because it’s indestructible; or I could even answer with: Because it’s naturally non-stick; but when it comes down to grilling a steak, there’s one reason to use a cast iron skillet over a stainless steel (aluminum clad) pan – and that is: Searing Power. Cast iron retains heat much better than a stainless steel pan. So, when you get a cast iron pan hot, it’ll stay hot even when putting down a cold steak.

But, if you don’t have a cast iron pan and want to grill a steak on a stainless steel pan, no problem... go for it. Nothing wrong that. Same techniques apply.

Also, if you don’t have a stovetop with a large burner or wish to go the cleaner in-oven method, simply use Broil on your oven (broil is essentially grilling from the top rather than grilling from the bottom). Don’t forget to preheat your pan in the oven.

I want to buy a cast iron skillet, what should I buy?
Click here for your best options. All you need to do is decide on the size and whether you want a flat pan or a “grill pan”. A grill pan is merely a pan that has raised grooves. The advantage of the raised grooves is that it produces sexy grill marks; the disadvantage of raised grooves is that the sear doesn’t happen across the entire surface of the meat. Really, it’s an aesthetic thing. If you’re going to purchase only one cast iron pan, get a 10” round, flat cast iron pan – the versatility is unparalleled... you can use it to grill, roast, or bake (mmmm... cornbread... make this recipe, it's amazing).



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