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Aug 24, 2005 01:34 PM

Pan Cooking A Steak

  • m

I've never cooked a steak in a pan. I'd like to cook a 3/4 inch shell steak with bone in my stainless steel frying pan. How do I prepare the pan, season, etc.

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  1. If your pan can go into the oven, I would do this:

    Preheat the oven to 400.

    Season steak with salt and pepper and maybe rub both sides with a crushed garlic clove.

    Heat a little olive oil in the pan and then sear the steak on the stovetop over high heat for a few minutes per side, then put the pan with the steak in the oven to finish cooking. Depending on how rare you like your steak, anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes should do it.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Ray

      Most important: make sure the steak is near room temp before cooking it (generally true for all red meat, btw). If you don't, and it is reasonably thick, you'll have the problem of a high degree of after-cooking once you remove it from the heat source.

      Use a cast iron skillet, if you have one.

      Another technique is to sear the steak over high heat on the stove top and finish it in a moderate (not high) heat oven. Let the searing produce the crust, and the moderate heat cook the interior to the desired level of doneness.

      Same principle applies to rib roasts and the like, too.

      1. re: Karl S.

        Make sure the pan is hot before adding either the oil or the steak. I agree that the steak needs to be at room temperature. I usually salt and pepper the steak, rub it with a little olive oil. Then I put it in the HOT pan, about 3 minutes or so, until brown, then flip it on the other side for a minute or so, then into a hot oven to finish. This may take 3 - 5 minutes, depending on how you like your steak done. Oh, another thing: When you first place the steak in the pan, leave it alone, do not move it. It will stick at first, then as it browns, it will let go of the pan, and you can turn it. I usually use a cast iron pan for steak, but it should work in stainless steel, if it has a heavy bottom. This is my favorite way to cook a steak -- it always turns out delicious.

        1. re: Karl S.

          Agree with eveyone here about the cooking method, and the cast ironn pan. AFter the steak is done, put it on a plate to rest. Keep the heat on, and add some water, butter, splash of red wine and onions to the pan. Let is cook for a few minutes, and it is a great au jus to serve with the steak. My mom used to make it this way ( I still have the cast iron pan!), and my dad used to love to have the juice served on the side with some french bread.

      2. Use a cast iron pan. Cover the bottom with kosher salt and turn on the heat to high. When the salt begins to brown put the room temp steak in it and make sure the exhaust fan is on. 5 minutes on one side and five on the other for an inch and a quarter thick ribeye for rare. It produces a lovely not salty steak. Been doing it this way for years.

        11 Replies
        1. re: Ken

          Even though I'm not the one who asked, Ken, THANK YOU! My mother used to pan-fry steaks this way occasionally and I couldn't remember the exact method. All I knew was there was one whole heck of a lot of salt involved and that the steak tasted fantastic - and not in the least bit oversalted. I think this one'll be on the menu this weekend.

          1. re: Ken

            I'm taking this opportunity to inquire about something that I've read - namely, that one should not salt meat before pan frying it, because it causes the meat to loose juice and dry up. Is this a myth or is there some science to this?


            1. re: MMRuth

              Myth, and also it tastes better pre-salted. You can test that by cutting a piece in half and salting one half and not the other cook toghther and taste. Though I do like the Florentine method of grilling a porterhouse and then rubbing it with a cut clove of garlic when it comes off of the fire and drizzling with olive oil and sprnkling with coarse sea salt.

              1. re: MMRuth

                It's true if you let the meat sit around for a while before you cook it (like hours)...but if you salt it immediately before throwing it in the pan, it is a myth.

                1. re: ricepad

                  Not true. See Harold McGee and Judy Rogers and Bruce Aidelles (sp?). Actually, salting meat and poultry far ahead of time - at least 24 hours- is best for flavor. Pat dry before cooking. If you salt just before, you may draw out some water which will make the steak steam.

                  1. re: LizR


                    This is one of the very few areas where Mme Kamman's strict instructions are proven wrong. (But that may be a result of the differences between American and French beef quality and butchery.)

                    1. re: Karl S.

                      OK, on this same train of thought: when I make burgers (i realize it's different but stick with me), I salt, pepper and lightly sugar the meat (a little onion and garlic powder too, sometimes). They are the juiciest burgers ever and I've been told (I don't know the exact science) that this is because the sugar creates a coating that keeps the juice in. You cannot taste the sugar at all. Would this work for steak as well, I wonder?

                      1. re: krissywats

                        Sounds like it adds oomph to the Maillard Process.

                        1. re: krissywats

                          That's interesting about the sugar. Don't know about with steaks, but a professionally-trained chef was at our pig roast several years back and offered some help with some of the other dishes. We were serving baby lamb chops as finger food before the main event. She seasoned them with salt, a bit of minced garlic, put them on the grill and, just before turning, added a light sprinkling of sugar. My husband and I were, admittedly, a bit surprised but put our trust in our guest. They turned out to be probably the best little chops we'd ever eaten. Go figure.

                          1. re: krissywats

                            as karlS mentioned, I think it adds to the maillard process, which means it adds flavor, but there is no way the sugar is keeping the juices in. That would require a thick layer of sugar, completely carmelized to a crust. That isn't happening here. It adds flavor and salting the meat throughout before you form patties is a great way to get flavor into the burger. The sugar probably enhances flavor, but it doesn't contribute to the juiciness of the burger.

                            1. re: adamclyde

                              I use a little sugar on occasion, both for pan-frying meat and for grilling, and what it mainly adds for me is texture. I like a crispy crust, and sugar does that.

                2. Stainless steel is not meant for that kind of cooking. You really need cast iron. Stainless is too thin, gets hot spots and you can actually damage the pan. Cast iron is cheap and a good investment. Pick one up on the way home. You won't be sorry.

                  1. I wouldn't put oil in the pan, it will smoke too much. Just rub a small amount of oil right on the steak and then salt and pepper it. since your steak is only 3/4 of an inch thick, you might not even need to finish it in the oven. Just make sure the room temperature and the pan is hot and put the steak in and don't touch for 3-4 minutes, then flip and another 3-4 minutes and it should be medium rare.

                    And I agree with everyone else... you do need a cast iron skillet.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Evan

                      Oil tells me when the pan is hot enough to sear meat or fish. I fry with windows and back door open and the hood fan on high. When the smoke starts to accumulate in the room, the pan is hot.

                    2. Hi Michelle-- I have never done it myself, but I have always heard that cast iron is essential for pan cooking a steak. Only a heavy cast iron pan can hold and evenly distribute the heat well enough for proper searing and flavor. I would think that putting a beautiful stainless steel pan through the rigors of a high intensity pan sear would just ruin the pan. Hmm, I think you're inspiring me to head down to Target and pick up a $15 pan :-)

                      Mr. Taster

                      1 Reply