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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
                      1. Regarding the pan - I'm sure cast iron is great (my pan is always in a state of abuse), but my DH does them in a stainless steel pan (w/ a copper core on the bottom - Sitram) and they turn out well, with a nice crust.

                        1. You really do need a cast iron pan. They are cheap and once seasoned are almost like non-stick if you treat them right. Please try the Alton Brown recipe that Mr. Taster has given you a link to. You need only the steak(and do make sure it's at room temp-that makes all the difference), a little oil, and s. and p. You will be amazed at how simple, but how really good a pan cooked steak can be if you use this method. I've been cooking steaks for years and this is by far the best way to pan cook one.

                          1. You can cook it in the pan you have. Hopefully, it is a good quality s/s. Use peanut oil and it won't smoke or burn. And, use a lid.

                            Put the pan on the burner and turn to high heat and add the oil. Stoves heat up differently, but figure about 30 seconds and see if the oil looks hot. When its hot, place the room temperature and paper towel dried meat in the pan. Count 30 seconds, cover the pan, and remove from the heat. A minute later, return the pan to the burner, remove the steak and just leave it on the spatula. Heat up the pan. Add some butter (there's still some peanut oil in there, too) and flipside the steak into the hot pan. Cover, cook for one minute, and then remove from the heat. Remove the meat to a plate, and deglaze the pan (a little wine or a little consomme or both (or saute some mushrooms (and maybe some green onions), in it with Cavendar's Greek Spice mix and a little more butter - (maybe some cream cheese or just cream for a lttle creamyt gravy). One minute later, you're done and ready to eat it, right?

                            The lid makes a stove top oven and taking it off the burner keeps its cooking gently through to medium rare. The thicker the steak, the longer you leave it on the burner and covered off the burner before turning it over. 3/4" thick is just one minute on each side before removing for one minute. And, if you want it rarer, put it in the pan right out of the refrigerator.

                            But, do try the cast iron skillet when you get one because they all said so. I'm happy with my gentle stove-top oven technique and deglazing.

                            1. Lots of butter + low heat, stainless pan is fine. Great crust & no smoke.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: jo

                                This method strangely enough (and counter intuitively-enough) works VERY well...no smoke and VERY crusty!

                              2. On the subject of pan selection I've found that a grill pan gives the best result. I think it allows the steak to avoid steaming where it comes in contact with the flat surface of a regular pan.
                                I also subscribe to the approach of searing one side in a very hot pan then turning the steak over and placing the pan in a very hot oven for 4-6 minutes.

                                1. I just ate the best steak, and I prepared it myself, thanks to all these tips.!

                                  Picked up a Porterhouse on sale last night. Never had one before, so looked here first for instructions. Good choice.

                                  Left the steak out for an hour. Oiled it, preheated my cast iron skillet with a very thin layer of olive oil. Kitchen door open. Fan blowing. Smoke got thick and I salted, peppered the meat. Threw it in the pan.

                                  That's the best aroma. Woof!

                                  My one mistake as far as I can tell is I left it on the heat about 1 1/2 minutes too long, first side. After cooking a little under 8 minutes total I placed it on a pat of butter on a heated plate.

                                  Took pan off heat, added butter, garlic, and beer. (All out of wine.) Made a reduction on medium heat; poured over the steak. Wow!

                                  Even though I accidently left precious little pink, the meat was very tender with excellent flavor.

                                  You guys are the best - thanks for the help!

                                    1. re: NovoCuisine

                                      I take the battery out of mine before I do this and then I refuse to leave the kitchen.

                                    2. I have nothing to add to this converstaion that hasn't been said by others!
                                      I did, however, cook a 3/4" thick bone-in shell steak on thursday in a pan. It was thin enough that I didn't even have to put it in my 400 degree oven- medium-high heat under my clad pan- room temp steak, seasoned 1 hour before the sear, blotted dry, added the oil to the pan (though for bigger steaks, oil the meat)- about 4 minutes each side- nice and browned. Sauteed up some sliced shiitakes & shallots, deglazed with a splash of red wine, a touch of soy sauce, and a drop of honey, finished with a bit of butter, right over the steak.

                                      I wasn't going to get redundant... sorry!

                                      Check out this link- 8-Legged entertainment made the rounds on this board a few years ago- "Fleeb cooks a Cow" is just an entertaining way to go over what we've all been discussing.
                                      Go to yhe "deep-fried live" section and watch the flash animation called "steak"

                                      1. Everyone here is absolutely correct and given my current kitchen ware I use many of the methods mentioned (I like RL's water et. al. au jus idea, will need to try that one).

                                        But, I taught myself to cook when I was 14 and had to deal with some pretty crappy stuff. I cooked steak 3-4 nights a week with great results. Some onion, oil, butter and the steak. Turn several time to the right doneness. Was I lucky or just persitant, probably a little of both.

                                        So whatever pots and pans you have you can get a great steak.

                                        1. I didn't see a mention, may have missed it, but if cast iron just isn't your thing, don't be afraid to use an enameled cast iron pan like a Le Creuset with the black enamel on the inner surface and the bright colors on the outside. Have personally had the same great results that everyone here talks about using this type of pan. Great stuff about cooking steaks here, almost all of it right as I've experienced it.

                                          1. In a cast iron skillet I take a good rib eye and put butter, yes butter, in the pan, salt the meat, and cook not high enough to burn the butter, it is more flavorful then on the barbie. When the steak is done, dont overcook, take out and put some chopped onions and mushrooms in the pan, stir and pour on top of steak, delish.