It’s summer. I don’t know about you, but when I think of summer, I think of grilling (though to be honest I haven’t been doing much of that yet). BUT, my friends, when I think of steaks, I think FRYING PAN!
I know most of you associate steaks and the grill, but hear me out. I promise you won’t regret it. Would I ever steer you wrong? Heck no!
The first thing you need for a great steak is just that…a great steak! I personally have certain “feelings” about big box store steaks. I just don’t think they are as good as my local grocery store’s variety. Now, it could all be in my head, but I really don’t think so. However, you decide what steaks are best for you, and go with it. Jeff and I happen to love porterhouse steaks (especially since I stretch mine out to two meals), so that’s typically what I pick up. Well, that or a filet. What can I say? We have expensive tastes…
OK. So you have your steak. Now what you have to decide is rub or don’t rub. I absolutely love Dorothy Lane‘s steak rub, so I use it every time we have steak. Yum! Some people prefer salt and pepper only, some people like a little more flavor. I’m a flavorful gal, so I lay on the seasonings!
Step 1: The Prep
Thirty (yes at least 30) minutes before you cook your steak, you want to remove it from the fridge, unwrap it from any packaging, and let it stand at room temperature. You want to get some of the fridge chill off the steak so it cooks more evenly. This is a great time to sprinkle on your rub. Really rub it into the meat too! You want every little nook and cranny to be all yummy with goodness.
Step 2: The Pan (& Oven)
Preheat a large skillet to medium high and set your oven to 450º. Melt a couple tablespoons each of butter and oil in your pan and let it get all nice and hot. I use both kinds of fat for two reasons: one-butter has a higher smoking point than oil so you can get it hotter and two-I like the flavor of the two combined.
Step 3: The Caramelization
When your pan is nice and hot, place your steaks in the fat. You want to hear a nice sizzle. You are creating the gorgeous golden caramel color on the meat that brings out all the flavors. This, my friends, is the most important step in the cooking process. A great caramelization can really, really make a steak go from “this is pretty good” to “oh my God, will you cook for me every night?” A warning: only make this steak for people you don’t mind cooking for because they WILL show up with those puppy dog eyes begging for food. Trust me on this.
Step 4: The Bake
Cook your steak over medium high heat for a couple minutes or until you achieve the caramel color we talked about above. Once this occurs, you will want to flip your steaks. As soon as you flip the steak, stick the whole thing, pan and all (IF YOUR PAN IS OVEN SAFE*), in the oven. Cook at 450º until your desired temperature is 5-10º within reach. This takes into account the resting time.
Step 5: The Rest
Resting your meat is the most important step in the cooking process. I know what you’re thinking…”But, Bethany, you said caramelization was the most important step.” Well, kids, it was a trick statement. There are two most important steps because, in my opinion, without both…well, just don’t skip either step.
Resting gives the meat time to redistribute all the juices. Otherwise, you’ll cut into the steak and all the juices you worked so hard to enclose trickle on out, leaving your meat dry. Who likes dry meat? *crickets chirping* That’s what I thought. So, do everyone a favor, remove your meat from the pan and let it sit, covered loosely with foil (this is called “tenting”), for 5-10 minutes.
You may be thinking that the meat will get cold, but it won’t. Your meat actually continues to cook while it’s resting, which is why you want to pull it 5-10º prior to the desired doneness. This chart will help you figure out at what temperature you should pull your meat:
Remember, pull your meat out 5-10º before the internal temperature reaches the temperature listed above. For example, Jeff likes his steaks medium rare. Taking into account the temperature for medium rare meat is between 130-140º, I usually pull his steak around 125º. Since I have to have mine well done right now, I leave my steak in until it reaches about 150º.
Yes, I use a meat thermometer (like the one below) to ensure the doneness of my meat. I’m just not good at touching the steak and telling the internal temperature. I’ve overcooked many a steak by thinking I can just tell. Lesson learned: use a thermometer.
If you are still concerned about cold meat, you can put your tented meat in the microwave. WARNING: DO NOT TURN ON THE MICROWAVE! THIS IS JUST A HOLDING AREA TO CONTAIN ANY HEAT THAT ESCAPES. YOU WILL BLOW UP YOUR MICROWAVE IF YOU TURN IT ON WITH FOIL INSIDE. I KNOW FROM VERY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE! But that’s another story…
OK, so let’s recap. You bought your steak, took it out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking to take the chill off, caramelized it in a hot, buttered (and oiled) pan, flipped it, stuck it in the oven until it was a little undercooked, removed it from the pan, tented it with some foil, and served it up to a very hungry, drooling spouse, right? Sounds like you completed all the steps.
Except prepping your side dishes. You did prep side dishes, right? You’re not gonna go all caveman on me and gnaw on steak bones until you can’t see straight, are you? Wait, you don’t have any good side dish recipes? Well, I guess you’ll just have to stay tuned to see my quick and painless way to make artichokes. You don’t like artichokes? My friend, wait. Just wait. In time…
*You should be able to find information about your pan on the internet, but if you can’t I would play it safe and not use it in the oven. I don’t want you to ruin a perfectly good cooking device. Instead, while your oven is heating up, stick a baking sheet in it so it gets nice and warm. Then, when you flip your steaks, cook them in the pan for a few minutes to caramelize them, and then place them on the baking sheet to finish cooking internally.