Everybody loves a good steak. What everybody may not realize is that you don’t need to take a trip to the steakhouse to enjoy a well-cooked piece of meat. While grilling steaks is certainly another great option, here in Cincinnati there isn’t the luxury of outdoor cooking 365 days a year. Here is a fast and simple method for pan-seared steaks without leaving the kitchen.
2 boneless beef steaks (sirloin, top loin, or top blade, among others, are all fine choices)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
Total cooking and prep time: 45 minutes (10 active)
1. Before you’re ready to cook the steaks, it is important to remove them from refrigeration and allow the meat to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Pat the steaks dry and allow to sit. This is an ideal time to begin preparing any side dishes that you’ll be enjoying. The reason the steaks must sit is because you’re going to be cooking them very quickly over high heat. If you cook the steak right out of the fridge, it will be impossible to get the center cooked through any more than very rare.
2. Once the steaks have sat, heat a saute (frying) pan over high heat on your stove. As the pan is heating, use a paper towel or cloth to rub both sides of the steaks lightly with oil. Season the steaks with salt and pepper.
3. Once the dry pan is very hot, add the steaks. They will sizzle and smoke, but you’re safe here because the oil is confined to the surface of the steaks rather than floating freely about the pan. Use your fingers (or any utensil with a flat surface) to push the steaks down onto the hot surface of the saute pan. You’re looking to build a nice char on the outside of the steaks, so any part of the meat that’s not in direct contact with the pan will not get that sear.
4. Flip the steaks over once the first side has charred to your satisfaction. You will develop a sense for this, but if you’re new to pan-searing, don’t be afraid to lift the steaks up with a fork to get a quick peek. 3-5 minutes per side is a good estimate but will vary depending on the size of the steaks, the temperature they started cooking at, and the actual heat of the pan.
No more than ten minutes of hard work and your steaks are done! Transfer the steaks to a plate and cover with foil. Let the steaks rest for a few minutes as they reabsorb their natural juices, then serve.
-This method will yield steaks close to medium-rare. Rare steaks can be prepared by making sure the pan is very hot beforehand and being very prompt about turning the meat the second that proper char is achieved. To cook through more, the most you can do is leave the steaks on as long as possible without burning them. If you don’t like red in your steaks, you’ll want to finish them in the oven. This is called pan-roasting.
-The drippings left in the pan are great for making a pan sauce. Deglaze with red wine and/or beef broth and add your favorite aromatics.
-Do not use extra-virgin olive oil for pan-searing meat. While EVOO has great flavor, it has a low smoking point and will burn before your steaks are done cooking.
-Pan-searing will work for bone-in steaks, but because the meat shrinks from the heat while the bone does not, you will not get as much char.