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For those who enjoy the occasional slab of red meat, there are a number of ways available to prepare a steak, or at least a favorite cut of beef. Most ways to prepare a steak can be used at home, but it can be difficult to duplicate the enticing char marks and rich flavors of a steak prepared at a professional steakhouse. Beef can be broiled, grilled, braised, pan-fried, deep fried, stewed or roasted to create an ideal main course for meat lovers everywhere.
One popular way to prepare a steak is grilling. Whether a professional grilling unit at a restaurant or a charcoal-powered grill in the backyard is used, many people seem to prefer the texture and flavor of a well-grilled steak. Grilling a steak involves a heat source such as hot charcoal briquettes or gas jets placed under a metal grating.
To prepare a steak on the grill, cooks often create a hot side for searing the meat and a cooler side for steady cooking. The steak is first seared to create appealing hash marks and to seal in its natural juices. The indirect heat of the cooler grill allows the steak to reach a preferred level of doneness over time.
Another way to prepare a steak is with a broiler. The steak is placed on a special broiler pan that allows for some drainage of excess fat and juices. The seasoned steak is then placed a few inches beneath an electric heating element or a row of gas jets.
Broiling a steak at such high temperatures causes the surface to become pleasantly toasted while the inside of the steak remains moist and tender. Broiling is an especially popular way to prepare steak cuts such as ribeye, porterhouse or t-bone. Many restaurants also broil hamburgers made from ground sirloin.
A popular method to prepare steak cuts such as round steak or short beef ribs is called braising. Braising is a common cooking practice for less tender cuts of beef - chuck roasts, rump roasts, shoulder roasts and the like. In order to prepare a steak through braising, it is necessary to use a large, heavy pan or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. The steak is first placed in the pan with a small amount of oil, and the meat is browned on all sides. After draining the original oil and other liquids, additional liquid such as wine, beer or beef broth can be added. A tight lid holds in the steam as the meat simmers in the liquid until it becomes very tender.
Perhaps the fastest ways to prepare a steak are pan frying and stir frying. A steak can be placed in a heated frying pan containing a small amount of oil. Many recipes for pan-fried steak call for the steak to be dredged in flour or other breading before frying. Stir frying may involve cutting a steak into thin strips and searing them in a Chinese wok until thoroughly heated. Pan frying and stir frying may not add as much flavor to the steak as other cooking methods, but both techniques are significantly faster.
Some cuts of beef are best prepared through a process called stewing. To prepare a steak by stewing, first cut the meat into small cubes. The meat may be browned on all sides or placed directly into a pot containing simmering, not boiling, water or broth. The pan should be fitted with a tight lid and allowed to simmer on low heat until the meat becomes tender. The beef should never be boiled, since this will cause it to become tough.
There is another way to prepare a steak that creates the effect of pan frying in a deep fryer. Some cooks use a tender cut of steak, usually ribeye, as the basis for a dish known as chicken-fried steak. The ribeye steak fillet is first dredged in a milk and egg wash, then dredged in a seasoned flour mix. This coated steak is then deep fried in oil until the coating has turned a golden brown. Chicken-fried steak is often served with a flour-based white gravy, mashed potatoes and an assortment of freshly cooked vegetables.