Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Perfect Steak

Mmmmmm....the Perfect Steak!
There are many ways to cook a steak but I have found this particular method perfect every single time and with spectacular flavor.  Trust me on this one and you will not be disappointed.  I have over and under cooked too many steaks on the barbeque – it is simply impossible to control all the variables. You will not lose any of the spectacular beef flavor if you carefully follow these simple steps. The combination of an excellent sear followed by a brief visit to a hot oven and a rest before serving creates the most consistently GREAT steak…each and every time. I have used this method for New York strip steaks, rib-eyes, filet mignon, top sirloin and porterhouse…anywhere from a 1 ½ ” thickness to 2 ½” thick bone-in porterhouse steaks.  

The first critical step to the perfect steak begins at the grocery store with the best product you can get.  Our favorite cut is the rib eye from Meyer Beef. ( It is hormone/antibiotic free, grass-fed vegetarian diet-fed Angus beef.  It is widely available at “natural” grocers as well as online.  However, any similar raised quality beef will work just as well.
Start with great beef

To be honest, I have tried numerous rubs and seasonings and love many of them.  But when we splurge on a truly superior piece of meat – it really needs very little. The flavor is in the beef.  To get the perfect steak, begin cooking after it reaches room temperature. If the outside of the steak is room temp and inside cold – it will not cook evenly. Take them out of the refrigerator about 2 hours prior to cooking!

Pat the steak dry with paper towels – all over.  Our favorite seasoning is a bourbon smoked sea salt and Penzey’s Krakow nights blend*. Odds are good you don’t have these sitting around your pantry – but any coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper will work.  Or, leave me a note in the comment section and I’ll share some of our favorite steak rubs.  Generously salt and pepper both sides of each steak.

Heat oven to 400 degree F (450 degree F, if a single large steak). It MUST be at 400 F before the steaks are cooked so be certain to turn your oven on well in advance of beginning to sear on the stove top.

Heat a HEAVY cast-iron or stainless steel ovenproof pan over med-hi heat until a few drops of water sprinkled in the pan evaporate within 3 seconds. THEN, after the pan is sufficiently hot – coat the bottom of the pan with about 2 tsp grapeseed or canola oil.  This is important – follow the rule of “hot pan, cold oil = no stick”.  Why? The metal of the pan is full of pores that expand when heated and allows the oil to settle in those pores. If you add oil to cold pan the surface tension of the oil is so great that it will "pool" and rest on top of those pores, when you add meat, it’s weight will push the food product into the grain which is not lubricated and your food will stick.
Searing in a heavy pan
The oil will heat quickly in the hot pan – look carefully, it should shimmer. Now add your rib-eye steaks to the pan. DO NOT MOVE THE STEAK!! Let it create the sear.  Regardless of thickness of your steak, it should sear for 2 minutes on each side, flipping only once with tongs.  (See, it did not stick!)

Transfer the steaks, STILL IN THE PAN, into the 400 degree F oven. Roast for 9 minutes; up to 14 minutes for a larger piece for medium-rare (insta-read thermometer of 120-130 degree F). Remove from the oven and place on a cutting board.  Immediately place about ½ Tb room temperature pat of butter on each steak and cover lightly with foil for 5 minutes. DON’T SKIP THIS IMPORTANT STEP!
Don't forget the butter....seriously!
 This resting period is probably the most important part of making the perfect steak.  The meat continues to cook during this period – and the internal temperature will rise about 5-10 degrees. The “rest” also allows time for the juices equilibrate. While the steak cooked – the juices within the steak move to center – as it cools, it allows the same juices to move throughout the steak. If you cut into the steak prematurely, those same juices would just run out onto your cutting board. Don’t skip the butter either – you are eating a steak, a ½ Tb butter will not really increase the caloric intake but will add greatly to the flavor and “mouth-feel” of your finished product.

Once the “rest” has concluded – it is time to serve!  OMG – so, so very good.  It truly needs no adornments. Just serve with a wonderful California Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon, some french fries and a green salad (or maybe an iceberg lettuce/bleu cheese dressing/bacon salad).  It will be the best meal of the year for the hungry carnivore!

Bon Appetit!  Larue

* Penzey’s Krakow Nights:  a Polish style seasoning with salt, pepper, coriander, garlic, mustard, marjoram, savory, sugar and mace.

1 comment:

  1. Hi All. This really is the BEST steak recipe that I have ever tasted, including BBQ. Great with french fries....and don't forget the butter!