Why you should never cook a steak that has come straight out of the fridge
It’s pretty well known that you should rest your steak after cooking, but taking some time to prepare your meat is also all-important to cooking the perfect steak. Some even say that if this process is performed correctly and the steak is slow cooked or reverse seared, that resting afterward isn’t even necessary. And, if you’re telling a steak lover they don’t need to wait to hook into their freshly cooked or barbecued steak, they are hardly going to need an explanation. But here goes.
The quality of a cooked steak comes down to two things, the appropriate doneness or temperature that it’s cooked to, and the cooking method used (ie. grill, barbecue, sous vide, reverse sear, etc). So with steak temperature contributing to a big part of the steak’s performance, it makes sense to give this appropriate attention.
Why steak preparation and temperature go hand in hand
Steak School’s temperature chart breaks down and recommends what temperature to cook your steak to to ensure appropriate doneness every time, but the preparation of this has a big part to play, and it’s as simple as planning ahead and taking your steaks out of the fridge ahead of time.
Steaks cook from the outside in, meaning the outside of the steak will always cook faster than the middle. This is great for achieving a nice crust on the outside, but it means there’s a high chance of overcooking while you’re waiting for the inside to catch up. This is why testing doneness should be done with a meat thermometer that can gauge the internal temperature of a steak. But it also explains why cooking a freezing cold steak often results in a bad outcome.
Read next: The best meat thermometers for beef in 2021
To avoid chucking a cold steak straight into the pan or the barbecue, letting your steaks warm up before you cook them is key. This is even more important if they’re previously been frozen, and you can see the safest way to defrost your steaks here.
How early to take them out of the fridge
To help get closer to the perfectly cooked steak, notable chefs and butchers from around Australia suggest taking your steaks out of the fridge up to an hour before you plan to cook. This should give them ample time to come to a temperature that will ensure a much more even cook.
Lachlan Graham, from Argyle Smokehouse & Butchery in Sydney, says, “It’s important to bring the meat out of the fridge before cooking so that it gets closer to room temperature as this affects how it is cooked. I take the steaks out of the fridge up to one hour before cooking, so when they’re cooked, the outside of the meat does not burn and the inside isn’t cold.”
Others say 30-40 minutes is more than enough. But the temperature of your room will play a part in this (ie. an Australian summer may require much less time to warm your steaks).
Tip: This tried and tested method also applies to larger cuts of meat such as roasts or larger cuts on the barbecue.
A common misconception
The goal here isn’t to get your steaks to “room temperature”, as we know that leaving meat out for extended periods of time can encourage bacteria growth resulting in food poisoning. Think of it more as taking the edge off and letting your steaks come to a more appropriate temperature for cooking evenly.
Ready to cook the perfect steak? Find more inspiration on Steak School.