TASTE
04/22/2013 06:51 am ET Updated May 23, 2013

How To Cook A Steak

David Malosh/Food&Wine

Steak isn't something that most of us get to eat everyday. It's a special type of dish. So if you're lucky enough to be making some at home, the last thing you want to do is ruin it with rookie-cooking mistakes. While the principles to cooking steak are simple, and mastering a technique is easy, there are still many ways you can go wrong when it comes to steak.

Don't waste one more steak. And definitely don't settle for a tough and overdone piece of meat when you should be enjoying your steak tender and flavorful. Read on to learn what common mistakes you might be making, and then correct yourself. Making a great steak at home is just that easy, just don't do these eight things:

1.) Overzealous seasoning
If you salt your steak too early, the steak will turn tough because salt draws out the natural juices. It's best to salt the meat just before cooking, or preferably right after.

2.) Cold cooking
Many of us love that slight char on steak, especially when it's contrasted with a juicy interior. But if you're not cooking your steak hot enough, whether on the grill or in a pan, the meat will steam instead of sear. This leaves the steak with a pale exterior and not nearly enough flavor.

3.) Overcooking steak
It's easy to accidentally overcook your steak if you're not paying close attention. If you like your meat well done, this is not a problem for you. But if medium-rare is your preferred doneness -- and many cuts of meat are actually more tender when cooked this way -- you can always rely on the finger test. When you think the steak is done, press it with your finger. The steak should sort of act like a good pillow -- you should be able to make an indentation that bounces back to shape. If it's too mushy, it's still rare. If it doesn't make an indentation, then it's cooking toward well done.

4.) Being impatient
An impatient cook usually gets a bloody steak. Steak that releases a lot of red juices after cooking may not bother everyone, but it is unappetizing to some. And even more importantly, it means the steak is losing its juices and can lead to dry meat. The reason this happens is because the meat was not given enough time to rest after cooking. Be patient, and let your steak rest for 10 minutes after cooking.

5.) Flipping fanatic
While there are many reasons your steak can come out tough -- like if you don't give it time to rest or if you overcook it -- another reason can be that you over-handled the meat during the cooking process. The best rule of thumb to go by is to not flip your steak until its has properly seared.

6.) Starting with cold meat
If you put a piece of cold meat in the oven or on the stove, it will cook unevenly. The outside will cook way faster than the inside making the inside unsafe to eat when the exterior is ready. For a normal sized steak, 20 minutes outside of the fridge before cooking should do the trick.

7.) Cutting into steak to check for doneness
Don't do this. Cutting into your steak as you're cooking it might give you a peek on the inside, but it also releases all the juices that give you a flavorful and juicy steak. Instead, use the finger trick or invest in a meat thermometer.

8.) Using a fork to flip your steak
Using a fork to flip your steak instead of tongs is never a good idea. Just like cutting into the steak to see if it's done, the fork pierces the steak and releases its juices -- losing flavor and tenderness.

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Now it's time to eat a steak.

PHOTO GALLERIES
A Festive Steak Dinner

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