Why Pan Seared Steak?
Steak. For carnivores steak is the pinnacle, the top of the food pyramid. There’s nothing like sinking your teeth into a perfectly cooked steak that’s tender and juicy in the middle with a sear on the outside to lock in all that flavor. A friend of mine asked me for directions on how to make steak without a grill. Up until recently this is something I’ve never tried. I mean fire and meat, that’s a combination as old as the ages and far be it from me to break from tradition. 🙂 However to help my friend out, I did some research and poured through the archives of the master guy food cook, Alton Brown from Food Network, and found this recipe for cooking pan seared steak. I tried it a few times and I’m a believer, you can have a great steak without a barbeque. So, if you don’t have a grill or if it’s too cold to cook outside, try this method for cooking the perfect pan seared steak indoors.
Cast Iron Cooking
The first thing that’ll be on your shopping list, if you don’t already have one, is a good quality seasoned Cast Iron Skillet. A 10 or 12 inch skillet will work fine. Here’s a link to one on Amazon. A cast iron skillet is a solid investment and it’s not unusual to have them passed down from generation to generation.
Don’t Use Soap On Cast Iron Cookware
A word of warning about cast iron cookware is to be sure not to use soap to clean them. A wipe down with a paper towel or lightly use a brush under hot water then lightly oil before storing is all that’s needed. I’ll do a posting soon about the ins and outs of cast iron cooking but for now remember, NO SOAP!
Let the Steak Rest First
The first you do, and this is IMPORTANT, is to let the steak rest outside the refrigerator for about an hour. You want to help minimize the shock to the meat of putting it into a red hot skillet and allowing it to come closer to room temperature first will pay off big rewards! After my hour wait is up I lightly spray the steak with vegetable oil or use a paper towel with oil to give them a light coating. Next I liberally sprinkle the steaks with course kosher salt, and then pepper and allow them to sit until the skillet is ready which we’ll do next.
Heat Up the Skillet
I’m cooking two New York Strip steaks and I’ll be using my 12″ cast iron skillet. I put the skillet in the oven and set the temp to 500 degrees. Yes you heard me right 500 degrees!
After the oven comes up to temperature, the skillet will be VERY hot, I used both an oven glove and a pot holder to really be sure to protect my hand from the high heat, I’d advise you do the same. Remove the skillet and put on the stove-top on high heat for 5 more minutes.
While waiting for the skillet to heat up I get everything else I need all ready to go.
A good timer or using a timer function on your smartphone will work too. I use a stopwatch for the first step of the cooking process, and then switch to a countdown timer for the second part.
Time to Cook!
Now that my 5 minute wait is up, it’s time to cook some pan seared steak! Put the steaks in the skillet and using a timer cook for exactly 30 seconds on each side using the tongs to flip them.
After cooking for a total of one minute on the stove top, flipping after 30 seconds, place the skillet back in the oven and use a countdown timer as follows:
For medium rare: 2 minutes per side
For medium: 3 minutes per side
For medium well: 4 minutes per side
I haven’t experimented yet but I’m reasonably sure that cooking 1 minute per side for rare and 5 minutes per side for well done will work. This is my steak just as I put it in the oven for 3 minutes per side for medium While the steak is in the oven, put a saucer upside down on a plate or platter as shown below. We’re gong to use this to drain any excess juices away from our steaks as they rest.
Give the Steak Another Rest
After cooking for the times I mention above, your steak will come out of the oven looking a lot like these.
But you’re not done yet. Use your tongs and place the steak on top of the saucer that we prepped earlier, cover with a tent of aluminum foil and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes. Letting it rest for longer won’t hurt anything and it’ll still be hot after more than 10 minutes.
This rest period is vital to allow all the juices to redistribute to where they need to be and I guarantee that when you cut into the steak the juice will remain inside. We use the upside down saucer to keep any juices that escape from ruining the sear on our steak.
Enjoy your perfect Pan Seared Steak!
And here’s my pan seared steak. Usually I like my steaks without sauce or anything else but this time I tried something different and doled on some of leftover garlic parmesan butter from the wings that I made a few days earlier and WOW!!! This pan seared steak was delicious and packed a punch too. You can get the recipe for my garlic parmesan wings HERE.
I found that cooking steaks this way is very close to being as good as cooking on the grill. So if it’s too cold to use the grill where you live, or you don’t have one, give this method of cooking pan seared steak a try.
Is it done?
Use this handy trick and you’ll always have the perfect steak. With an open hand press down on the pad of your palm nearest the thumb. This is feels similar to a raw steak. Now with your left hand touch your thumb and first finger together. This feels like a medium rare steak. Work your thumb down to touch all of your fingers and the pad get harder as you feel what a medium, medium well, and well done steak feels like.
Next time don’t cut into a steak to test for doneness, just press down on it.