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steak for beginners

wednesday night i've signed on to make a steak dinner for my boyfriend, and i'm completely in the dark. what cut of meat? what marinade? what cooking technique? i don't have access to an outdoor grill, but we've got a cast iron skillet and a broiler.

any suggestions for good sauces, sides, etc. would be most welcome.

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  1. If you are looking for uber-simple, there are some very nice steak seasoning blends available at most grocery stores. Look for a larger than average spice container where you can see the coarse grain salt and pepper. They usually add garlic, onion and other herbs. Put that and some olive oil on both sides of your steak and broil.

    The key to a good steak is to not overcook. Get a decent cut (Ribeye and NY Strip are common favorites) and cook it rare to medium rare. It doesn't take long under a hot broiler. Just a few minutes on each side. When it is cooked but still pink inside, take it out of the oven and let it sit for a few minutes before slicing or serving. That way the juices won't all run out when it is cut.

    There are many different sauces, none of which are necessary if the steak is a good cut and cooked properly. If you want one, you could do something like a blue cheese butter. That's just blue cheese, fresh ground pepper and butter, adjusting the various levels to your taste. Just put a dollop of that butter mix on the steak right before serving.

    1. I would recommedn go with a Rib Eye or Rib steak - it is IMHO the best steak you can get and relatively easy to do in the oven under the broiler - it is such a good cut of meat you really do not need much else other than seasoning it with garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper -

      This is also a good recipe from Alton Brown http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...
      - I have made it and it is very good -

      1. Ribeye steaks, either with or without bone, at least 1 1/2 inches thick. No marinade...just salt and a healthy sprinkle of black pepper. Sear in your cast iron skillet on high heat until carmelized and brown, flip and do same to the other side (should only take 1-2 minutes per side). Finish off by placing the whole shebang (steaks and skillet) into a 450 degree oven. 7-8 minutes and you should have a steak done medium.

        I usually serve these with basic sauteed mushrooms. Place 2 tsp olive oil or butter in a small heated fry pan (medium heat). When butter has melted (or oil is hot), add 8oz sliced mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms have cooked down, but aren't mush (about 8 minutes). Sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper and serve with steaks.

        If you do sauce, either a red wine reduction or bernaise go well with steak.

        1 Reply
        1. re: QueenB

          Just make sure you let the steak sit out for at least an hour, preferably two, before you cook it. It sounds gross, but don't worry. The steak will not go bad, and it will cook more evenly if it's closer to room temperature.

        2. As for sides, a baked potato is pretty classic and easy. You might also want to steam some broccoli or asparagus.

          For steaks I like beef tenderloin with filet mignon being the most prime. Sirloin or NY steak is a slightly more affordable cut and also good.

          If you use a good quality meat you don't need to marinade. A little olive oil and salt and pepper are enough prep.

          1. For your first attempt try a cut without a bone. It is more difficult to pbtain a consistent doneness with a bone-in. I would agree that a strip or ribe eye is your best bet. I just like S&P and some garlic powder. No marinade needed. If you have an instant read thermometer you can check the doneness by placing in the side of the steak. Shoot for 135 degrees.

            Go for a good baked potato with butter, sour cream and some chives. If your grocer also carries Peter Luger Sauce or Ben Benson sauce, these are two favorites in Chez Jfood.

            Good luck, enjoy and smile. Your BF will love you for it.

            1. Ribeye is my choice. 1 1/2 -2 inches thick, PRIME Please. Salt and pepper only. Sear in the hot cast iron and finish in the oven. I like either the compound butter or plain sauteed mushrooms. Big baked potato, oven only, rub with olive oil and salt, a couple of stabs with a fork in the skin, bake until tender, DO NOT put it in aluminum foil. Sour cream and real chives.
              To do the whole steakhouse thing, iceberg wedge with blue cheese dressing and crumbles, grape tomatoes and real bacon bits.

              1. I second everything phneale said and would add only Prime ANGUS beef if you can get it!

                3 Replies
                1. re: eseljay

                  I am also a steak novice. I recently bought top round, and tried to make it like regular steak. it was so dry! Unfortunately I have another one in the freezer. How do I prepare such a lean cut of meat?

                  1. re: Lotus7

                    you could also slice thinly and use in a stir-fry. Just be sure to slice against the grain. mixed veg, soy, ginger, and garlic, and you have a delicious meal.

                    1. re: Lotus7

                      With such lean meats, I'll usually slow roast them. The lower the better, a 200 degree oven if you have the time. Salt and pepper the outside after letting the meat sit on the counter to come up to room temperature. You can look around on the web for the pounds:time in the oven ratio, but I just stick a meat thermometer in it and wait for the center to hit 140.

                  2. Lotus7 -- I would braise it. Brown it on all sides in a dutch oven in some good olive oil. Remove to plate and briefly saute a couple of sliced onions. Put meat back in dutch oven. Pour in an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce, 8 oz. red wine, a few grindings of pepper, and a few cloves of garlic. (4 or 5 is my preference) Add half a seeded jalapeno for extra zip if you like. Pop it all in a 300 degree oven for 2 1/2 or 3 hours. Let cool. Take fat off top. Slice meat and reheat in sauce. A delicious pot roast. Moist. Tender. Great! (BTW add salt to taste at the end...I don't like to cook with much salt personally.)

                    1. thanks for all the tips, guys! but there is a new exciting twist:

                      turns out we only have a nonstick skillet. so no stovetop-to-oven, and no cast-iron preheating.

                      what's a girl to do?

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: helenheaven

                        I would get a cast Iron pan tomorrow if it is at all possible. They are very cheap and easily found, but of course i do not know where you are.

                        1. re: helenheaven

                          See if you can get a cheap cast iron pan (they have them at thrift stores all the time) or another oven ready skillet. You can't get a nonstick pan as hot as you need it to be to cook a good steak.

                          1. re: helenheaven

                            do you have a broiler pan? - A pan that raises the meat off of the juices - and through the rib eye under the broiler -

                            1. re: weinstein5

                              And if no broiler pan I found that a cooling rack covered with tinfoil (cut some slits) set inside a cookie sheet works in a pinch.

                            2. re: helenheaven

                              You said you had an outdoor grill, correct? IMHO forget the broil/braise/cast iron - buy 1 1/4" ribeyes, rub w/olive oil, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, allow the meat to come to room temp, cook on as hot a fire as you can achieve with your grill for about 5 minutes a side, (flipping only once, when the meat has the resiliancy of the web between your thumb and forefinger it is ready) Allow the meat to rest 10 minutes covered. This could not be easier! Enjoy!

                            3. I would order a steak to-go from a restaurant and pass it off as my own. Set the oven on the warm setting and wrap it in foil. When he gets to your place, say you are letting the steak rest to draw all the juices back in before serving. Make the sides yourself.

                              You can admit to the deception after you eat. Until you get the right equipment...because you really can't use a non stick skillet at a high heat, because the teflon stuff breaks down and produces toxic fumes. You really need the high heat to sear the meat so it doesn't dry out.

                              For myself, I like ribeye on the outdoor grill. 4 mins per side if 1.5-2.0 inches thick and let rest for 5-10 minutes.

                              1. How about a tri-tip roast. Try seasoning it with RUB WITH LOVE for beef.
                                You can use a dry rup of paprika,garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, rosemary, organo and salt and pepper. Rub the beef down compleatly. Cook it at 375 after 25 minutes, check temp, cook until and internal temperture of 125, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes, gently covered out side of the oven.

                                1. Here's a suggestion that allows you some practice before boyfriend shows up. Today, go get a cast iron pan and a nice piece of sirloin - 1-1/2" thick if possible. You're going to cut the steak into cubes 1-1/4 or 1-/12" on a side, season with a bit of salt and pepper and then sear them in a very hot cast iron pan with a bit of olive oil. Cooking the steak pieces will take only a few minutes. Turn them as each side sears. Take them out of the pan and let rest for at least five minutes before cutting.

                                  The point here is twofold: boyfirend gets lots of crusty steak surface (the tastiest part) and you get to practice cooking a few pieces tonight. You'll be more confident about how long to cook them, how hot the pan gets, etc. And it's better to ruin a couple pieces than an entire steak.

                                  One more issue - get a cast iron pan today, but you must "season" it before you cook in it. Basically that means rubbing the new pan with olive oil and putting it in a 250 degree F oven for a couple hours. I don't know why you have to do this, but my mom told me decades ago you have to.

                                  1. Olive Oil is a great universal ingredient. I coat the steak (any cut but I agree that rib eye is great) with olive oil about 1/2 hour before grilling. At the same time I season with just a bit of Goya Adobo. Put the steak in a some plastic wrap or in a poly bag. This tends to seal the surface just a bit to keep the juices in. A 1 inch steak on a hot grill goes about 3 minutes per side for med-rare.

                                    For sides, simple are better. Butter seared mushrooms and asparagus stir fried in olive oil with a bit of garlic make a spectacular meal in about a half-hour.

                                    For a simple salad, quarter a head of romaine (wedge shape!), put it on an individual salad plate, drizzle on some Newman's Caesar dressing (if you're not brave enough to make your own), and garnish with some shaved romano. On your way home stop and get a container of mixed olives (or anything else that looks good) at the olive bar in most supermarkets and add a spoon beside the romaine.

                                    Presto! Quick, cheap, and impressive!

                                    1. Can you do a skirt steak? Rub on both sides with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pound it down a bit if one side is very much thicker than the other side. Heat your broiler up, put the meat on a jelly roll or broiler pan or whatever else will fit under there, and broil for 6 minutes a side or until just brown around the edges. Let rest 10 minutes, slice and serve. It's hard to mess up, and very easy to heat up a little further if you've made it too raw the first time.

                                      1. So how did the boyfriend steak dinner go? What did you do with the steak?