What is the best way to cook a steak ?
Depends on how tough you want it!
''How tough do you want it ' is what many UK restaurants really mean when they ask you the usual question - rare , medium or well done sir ? Doesn't matter much what you answer - what comes back is generally the same shapeless lump of cold cannibal - raw on the inside and burnt black on the outside .
For cooking at home my favorite method is to slowly barbecue the steaks over a fire of applewood logs .
Rib eye on the bbq with charcoal and oak bark. Season with garlic salt and lemon pepper. Delicious!
Of course, there are other ways of cooking meat. Years ago when I was traveling in Europe for the first time, I bought a copy of "Asterix in Britain" to amuse myself during a train ride. I still remember the running jokes about British food, including the following:
Roman general: If you don't find those blasted Gauls, I'll have you boiled alive and served to the lions! With mint sauce!
Legionnaire #1: (gulp) How horrible!
Legionnaire #2: Yes, poor creatures!
Captain Hastings : ' Is there anything in the English cuisine that you like, Poirot ? '
Hercule Poirot : ' The English they do not have a cuisine, my friend, they have only the food '
Fortunately I'm Welsh - brought up on cawl
The most important thing here in preventing toughness is the steak quality! A lower-quality steak is less likely to remain tender throughout the cooking process. The way I cook steaks: I place mine in the refrigerator to defrost for a few hours. Once defrosted, I tenderize and beat it to an equal all-around thickness, and usually marinate to tenderize again for a few hours (sometimes I don't though)- lemon/lime juice also softens the meat and kills bacteria. Then, I pat it dry, rub oil and seasoning into it. I usually use a cast iron skillet (lightly coated in oil), but an electric skillet has more room for when you are cooking many with toppings. I prefer medium rare, so I sear each side for only 1 minute to build up a good crust, then maybe 3-4 minutes per side at a lower temp. My Husband needs his fully cooked, no matter how tough it becomes, so I will usually cook his slightly longer and also place it into the oven (if the crust is already too dark) for a few more minutes wrapped in aluminum foil. The trick to getting a tender steak is in preventing as much moisture loss as possible. If you need yours fully cooked, you could try cooking it to medium well, then wrapping it in aluminum foil and allowing it sit for 20 minutes- it should continue cooking until it is well done. I also love throwing onions and mushrooms in with my steak!
Toughness is a function of fat marbling, one of several important parameters -as pointed out by @Fervent Freyja
In the US there are meat grades: prime, choice, standard. They are based in part on the amount of marbling. Buying beat quality (grades) of meat improves tenderness.
Taste to a huge degree and tenderness also depends on how the meat has been handled, or "aged". High end restaurants keep large sections of green beef hung in a cooler to dry age for a minimum of 30 days. Periodically, the outer dry layer that develops is shaved off with a special tool to allow moisture to continue to leave the meat. There is also enzymatic activity during the dry ageing beef which alters taste and tenderness a lot. A 20 pound cut of beef can lose 40% of it's wet weight during this process.
...why dry aged is expensive.
Cryopac (wet) meats have been dry aged for a few days then wet aged: both for much shorter times and consequently are less expensive. Plus they have not lost as much moisture so are cheaper to produce.
Some meat places have dry aged beef which is often much more expensive that the wet pack. You can dry age at home.
Buy a prime grade roast at the grocery store, they are easiest to dry age a few extra days at home:
Separate names with a comma.