Knowing how to cook a steak is yet another of those things that is both incredibly easy and yet incredibly difficult. When you have only one ingredient there’s nowhere to hide. Whether you cooked the steak well is going to be known the minute you cut into it. That being said if you know this easy technique, with practice, it will get you a steak that is perfect.
Any time you are featuring a standalone ingredient, it doesn’t matter what that ingredient is quality matters. A cheap steak will always be a cheap steak. This doesn’t mean there aren’t good deals to be found and nor does it mean there isn’t a use to those cheap steaks. If you find a good deal on steak stock up. They freeze amazingly well! I prefer vacuum sealing them but freezer bags will work too.
So you decided you want to cook a steak dinner. Start with knowing a steak for the best outcome should be about an inch thick. Thin steaks cook too quickly and you don’t get the varied texture, temperature, and coloring that a great stead should have. Knowing where to buy a steak is equally hard. I will be honest, I have never bought a good steak at big chain grocery stores. That being said Costco has some pretty amazing steaks. No idea why this is but this has been my experience. Now if this is a special occasion and you have done several steaks in the past with this method then I would say to splurge and go to a meat shop or the farmers market and get high quality beef. (What cows eat and the environment they were raised in really does come through in the final piece of meat.) Oh, I should mention too there are a ton of cuts and there is a lot to learn there but sick with Strip Steaks, Rib Eyes, or ask the butcher what his/her preferred cut is.
So you’re home with the steak and ready to cook! Whoa! Wait! Two fundamental tips:
- Meat should always be as close to room temperature when you cook it. Never cook it cold! (This is part of why I love vacuum sealed bags. I can pull it from the freezer the morning of or the night before, put it on the counter to thaw, and when I am ready to cook, it’s fully thawed and no longer cold.)
- Place the steak(s) on a plate lined with paper towels. You want the steak to be dry before going into the pan. Lightly salt both sides of the steak. (For this you really should use a corse Kosher salt and sprinkle it on both sides of the steak.)
OK, now you’re ready…
For this all you need is a pan that can go in the oven and on the stove. A cast iron pan is perfect but any metal pan with a metal handle will work as long as it’s rated safe for ovens.
Place the pan in your cold oven. The pan should be dry (meaning nothing in it). The rack should be placed 8 inches or so below the broiler flame.
Turn on the broiler. Let that pan get nice and HOT. After about 5 minutes or so VERY carefully pull the pan from the oven and place on the stove. Turn the burner on high. Add just a little oil to the pan. A plain oil is best. Something like canola or grapeseed is ideal. (If you want to experiment with other oils check the “smoking point” of the oils as this pan is going to be VERY hot.)
Now place your steak(s) in the pan. Don’t crowd them. (At this point you can add a little fresh cracked pepper to each side as you sear it if you want.) Let them sit for about 30 second and flip them over using tongs. (Don’t jab the steak with a fork to flip it.) Once the steak has seared on both sides place the whole thing back in the oven under the broiler. This is going to go quick! Check the steak at 2 minutes and flip it over, then put it back in. The best way to check for doneness is by learning the “feel” of the steak. If you press in the center of the steak and it’s loose or spongy it’s going to be very rare or even under cooked. The firmer it gets the more cooked it is. You do want to pull it a little under what you want but not too much. If you are cooking the steak for someone else it’s important to know how they like their steak cooked. Not everyone loves it well done and not everyone loves it rare.
I like it somewhere around medium rare. For this and with how thick my steaks were I cooked them for about 3 minutes on eh side under the broiler.
Pull the steaks from the oven, cover, and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. If you are doing 1 large steak and slicing it to serve it you can place it on a cutting board to rest, just tent it with foil.
For me the perfect side to offer with a steak is Garlic Brussel Chips from “The Farm”. If you really want to go all out a home made mac and cheese works amazingly well with this too! This technique will take some practice but it’s about quality of the meat, a super hot pan to sear, then finish in the broiler. Enjoy!