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HOW TO COOK A GOOD STEAK WHEN THE GRILL ISN’T AN OPTION

Had a great nicely marbled Rib eye. Pre Heated my cast iron pan on the stove top. Preheated the broiler to 500 degrees (It’s an electric oven, I’m partial to gas, maybe this is part of the problem?) Slapped it into the pan, heard a nice sizzle and immediately put it under the broiler, about 4 minutes each side to nice medium rare. The steak was tender and juicy, no special seasoning, just salt and pepper but I just wasn’t thrilled. It had some char/crust but not as good as a good steakhouse would serve nor as good as it would be on my Weber charcoal grill. Where did I go wrong? How do you cook a good steak at home when the grill isn’t an option?

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  1. Butter or olive oil. My basic steak seasoning is Montreal, cut 50/50 with dried garlic.

    6 Replies
    1. re: LordOfTheGrill

      Mark Bittman did a feature on "The Least-Used Kitchen Gadget", the broiler, about a month ago. His technique was to preheat both the skillet and the broiler (and set very closely together) for about fifteen minutes, then to drop in the pre-seasoned steak and put the pan back in for however long your favored degree of doneness takes.

      I have not tried this with a steak (he also demonstrated this with jumbo scallops, which I did do). If I'm not grilling, I always used to do the dry hot skillet with a scattering of salt routine, but now I have a ribbed grill pan, which does a much better job.

      1. re: Will Owen

        Olive oil and garlic, salt and pepper under the broiler, finished with butter.

        1. re: Will Owen

          I've never used a ribbed grill pan, or even contemplated doing so, because I consider pan sauce a necessary way to finish off steaks and chops.

        2. re: LordOfTheGrill

          ITA. Butter. A goodly amount. Gives it a lovely crust.

          _______________________
          http://www.savour-fare.com

        3. IMO the tastiest and most reliable method is SEAR AND BLAST.

          Preheat oven to 450.

          Season your steak liberally with salt and pepper.

          Heat a cast iron or stainless skillet to very hot.

          Place steak in skillet and sear on one side (2 min), flip, immed. place in hot oven and finish till degree of doneness is achieved. Depending on thickness, maybe 6 min of medium. Maybe a bit longer. Press your finger into middle of steak to tell.

          6 Replies
          1. re: C. Hamster

            Completely agree...weel seasoned to your liking, sear in a hot--hot pan and finish in the oven at 450 to desired doneness

            1. re: nyfoodjoe

              I just took a cooking class in steaks, and this was the exact method they taught. I was really surprised, because I never heard of "baking" a steak to finish it. Keep in mind that cut of beef, amount of fat, and thickness are huge variables as to how it will come out.

              1. re: nyfoodjoe

                Im going to have to disagree with seasoning it til the very end when its ready, otherwise you are going to dry it out during cooking and loose the benefit of the searing in the first place.

                1. re: bjg896

                  Preseasoning does not dry out the meat - that's as erroneous a notion as the old sear-to-seal belief. A piece of meat seasoned well in advance of cooking and allowed to sit at room temperature for an hour or more will be as good as that piece of meat can possibly be. This definitely includes hamburgers, by the way.

                  1. re: Will Owen

                    My favorite seasoning, especially for on-sale meat that needs a little help, is to give it a dousing of soy sauce, Asian hot sauce, and garlic powder.

              2. re: C. Hamster

                I had to sign in so I could thank you. For about 5 years, I have used and thought of this simple recipe every time I cook one. Since they changed the layout, you aren't as easy to find.

                So simple, so delicious. Hooray. Cheers.

                I just thought I would bring it to your attention that the internet loves you, and still uses your advice 6 years later. =)

                 
              3. Season with salt and a good dose of pepper. I use basically the same method that you did, except that I thoroughly brown the steak on both sides in the cast iron pan (on high heat), then I put it in the oven (on the highest setting) for a few more minutes until its reached the desired doneness (we like medium to medium-rare).

                I think that the key to this method, is to keep the seasonings simple (most things will just burn at these high temperatures thus giving the steak a bitter flavor), and making sure to get the pan screaming hot before introducing the steak to it. Once the pan is smoking hot, the steak goes in and I turn the heat down to medium. Let the steak be for a good several minutes to get a nice crust, then flip and do the same to the other side. Once side #2 is well browned, I put the whole thing into the oven (sometimes I add some thinly sliced red onions to the pan to cook along with the steak, the are delish!) for 5-10 more minutes.

                Two other things to remember are: 1. Make sure to let the steaks come to room temperature before attempting to cook them, and 2. Make sure to let the steaks rest, covered, for a good 10 minutes or so after they come out of the oven. The will continue cooking during this time, so its important to take them out of the oven just before they are done to compensate for this.

                Hope this helps!

                6 Replies
                1. re: chemchef

                  Chemchef has it. The trick in this method is to quickly sear both sides of the steak. Helping to hold in the juiciness. A rest after cooking as suggested later in this thread will help the meat too.
                  This searing should set off the smoke alarm!!!

                  1. re: coastie

                    Searing meat does not seal in its juices.

                    It's fine if you flip it before putting it in the oven, but that side is going to sear on its own without flipping, being in that hot pan and all. Flipping is unnecessary.

                    1. re: C. Hamster

                      hi, can you provide more information about your statement that searing meat does NOT seal in its juices? that is something i have always believed to be true.

                      thanks!

                      1. re: DMB

                        Kenji at SeriousEats did a nice little summary disproving this.
                        See http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/10/th... - myth 5.
                        And http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/12/th... - The Myth of the Sear.

                        Searing is great for the Maillard reaction, but it does not seal in juices.

                  2. re: chemchef

                    I do essentially what chemchef does, but I rub with hot hungarian paprika while coming to room temp. And I do 3 minutes/side.

                    And serve with chimichurri, but that's another thread.

                    1. re: chemchef

                      Had a nice little Trader Joe's "Western Style" beef sirloin, and chemchef's method (above) was: Yep, a) reliable; b) flavorful, nicely seasoned; and c) easy as hell.

                      I did sear both sides and chose a good cut that was conducive to cooking one steak to suit both my - and my husband's - differing preferences in terms of done-ness. The thinner end was perfectly medium/medium-well for him, and the thicker end just medium rare for me. We used a stainless non-stick All-Clad pan. Curious to try it next time seasoning afterwards, per bjg896's advice. Thanks to all! Great advice for outdoor grill-less New Yorkers.

                    2. I think the thing I miss the most when I cook steak indoors (sear in hot pan, put in oven to finish) is the smoky smell and flavor you get from the grill. That, and I don't find you get the same burned/crisp edges when you do it in a pan. I'll get a nice sear outside, and nice and red inside, but it just isn't exactly the same and I haven't found a way to replicate that inside yet.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: QueenB

                        cast iron grill skillet?

                        maybe burn some mesquite, catch the smoke under a wine glass, and "release" it when you eat ;)

                        actually you could just burn some wood, get the smell on your hands, and then eat.

                        1. re: QueenB

                          That exactly why I started this thread. Thanks for all the tips, I think they will get me closer to a good steak but at the end of the day, nothing like grilling a steak outside.

                          1. re: QueenB

                            I use liquid smoke... Usually find it with the marinades and such! It works well for that smoky flavor and taste!

                          2. As a general rule I do not like pan fried steaks; however, in Marcella Hazan's book, "Classic Italian Cookbook", there is a fabulous recipe for a pan-fried steak (I usually use boneless rib eye), I forget what the recipe name is but it's made with tomato paste, garlic, fennel seeds and it is delicious, it may be called something like steak in hot pepper sauce?

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: paulgardner

                              That recipe looks really promising! Can you tell me what the "tiny, dried, whole red peppers" are that she calls for? She says they are available in "most Italian, Greek, or Latin American groceries." Do you know what the name of the pepper is?

                              1. re: k_d

                                I usually see Chile Arbol, but I would describle them as small chiles, not tiny, so I'm not so sure. Scroll down this page for a pic.
                                http://www.foodsubs.com/Chiledry.html

                                1. re: k_d

                                  I usually just use crushed red pepper flakes and it has come out great.

                                2. I start off like everyone else with the hot-hot pan and seasoned steak, but instead of flapping it down into the pan, I use tongs and, holding the steak perpendicular to the pan surface, I sear all the edges of the steak first before putting it flat side down for the remainder of the cooking. There's usually a little rim of fat that really needs this extra bit of attention, and after searing and finishing off in the oven, the edge really does have a nice crispness to it that I just can't get otherwise.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: weezycom

                                    The ablity to cook good steaks like this in the wintertime is reason enough to buy and care for a cast iron skillet. In a disaster, I would grab my daughter, my wedding album, and my cast iron skillet that once belonged to my grandma. Everything else can be replaced.

                                    1. re: weezycom

                                      I use my cast iron grill for steaks at times, has to be very hot, and rubbed with a little oil.
                                      A good rib eye always does well with this method if we can't use the bbq, its a heavy, heavy thing but it does work well! And the other side " the flat" side does great with pancakes! I love dual purpose cooking tools.

                                      1. re: weezycom

                                        weezycom - That's another great point, I hate that the edges don't get browned and seared. I will add this tip to my repertoire.

                                      2. Cast iron skillets do a great job on steaks, but you have to get it really hot to get that great sear. So heat the pan well, take down that smoke detector for a few minutes, and toss the steak on. If it doesn't make a lot of noise and a good bit of smoke and some mess, it's probably not hot enough. (Don't forget to put the smoke detector back up.)

                                        1. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/324206

                                          Take a look at this link. I did not believe this would work, but I tried it, and my steak came out PERFECTLY medium rare throughout.

                                          1. Season the steak with 1/2 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (even less for a small steak. Do not add too much) on each side, fresh ground black pepper, a sprinkle of granulated garlic, and Kosher salt to taste. Give it a good rub and let stand for 2-3 hours. Preheat cast iron skillet and oven to 450. Cook for 5-8 minutes on each side to desired doneness. Throw some whole green onions in the skillet and cook until lightly charred.
                                            As far as the olive oil goes, I think that it's overpowering for beef and especially steak.

                                            1. I always broil my ribeyes to medium rare; better than premium steakhouse steaks!

                                              1. In my opinion you are starting out with 2 strikes, (1) no grill, & (2) an electric oven/broiler...

                                                If I was you I would use a cast iron pan with the ribbed bottom. I would get the pan nice and hot over the burner/element, and then put the room temperature steak in the pan. Turn the heat down a little since the cast iron skillet will hold the heat well, and cook for 4-5 minutes per side depending on thickness, and what temp you want the steak cooked to.. Do a quarter turn on each side at 2 mins to get nice grill marks for a nice looking steak. This is the method I use for N.Y. Strip steaks, Filets, and Ribeyes. If the steak has a bone like a T-Bone or Porterhouse I might finish it in the convection oven for a few mins @ 425-degrees . Remember to let the steak sit for 5 mins before cutting/eating to let the juices evenly redistibute.

                                                As for seasoning, I only buy prime steaks, and am not going to mess with their great flavor by drowning them in seasoning. I put a pinch of kosher salt, a little ground black pepper, and a little garlic powder on each side before cooking.

                                                1. I use Mark Bittman's pan-sear recipe, which involves cooking the steak on the stove in a well-heated cast iron pan. You cook it with salt and nothing else. Here's a link to a post I made last year after discovering the method, titled "Better than any top steakhouse steak," which describes in more detail Mark Bittman's recipe/method:

                                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/284457

                                                  Mark Bittman's method is THAT good!

                                                  1. There are a lot of excellent suggestions here. I follow this method of Rose Levy Beranbaum's, which is quite similar to the methods discussed here. I find the extra step of ridding the skillet of excess grease to be very important, though. And for an extra-thick steak, I've had good results raising it on a rack in the skillet for the final roasting.

                                                    http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/200...

                                                    1. i use the two-stage cooking strategy discussed here on the grill as well as indoors. with the lid open, high heat on both sides for a couple of minutes plus one minute on the edge fat the cut requires it. i then remove the steak, close down the dampers to get a 400 fire and then finish the steak with the lid down, turning it once. i routinely choose--or request--thick steaks so the two-stage approach is nearly a must. i don't cook ribeyes with the all out ferocious heat i apply to a strip--plenty hot, but indoors or out i am a bit more gentle with a nicely marbled ribeye--just to make sure i get the fat melted in a warm rare steak.

                                                      1. THIS IS THE BEST THREAD EVER! I just made really, really delicious steaks for the first time using the sear and broil method :). I used a freshly ground black/white peppercorn and salt mixture, rubbed it on room temp steaks and then put copious amounts of butter on them when they went in the oven. SERIOUSLY DELICIOUS. The boyfriend was extremely happy

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: wokwok

                                                          Hamburgers work well this way too!

                                                          1. re: wokwok

                                                            I'll do that with two t-bones tonight.

                                                            It's what I believe Craftsteak did with
                                                            the steaks we had in Vegas.

                                                          2. The most important detail, I think, if you're going to sear a hunk of meat: Get the meat out of the fridge an hour before it hits the pan. You want it at room temperature, not at 40 degrees. Now. Here's another detail to pay attention to when searing, one I purloined from the venerable Alton Brown: Sear the most handsome side of that meat first. No matter how hard you try, you are not going to get as good a sear on side B because the pan's temperature drops when you flip. So you want to put the prettiest sear on the prettiest side, so the prettiest side goes down first.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: AaronBPryor

                                                              You can always pre-heat two pans, transfer for the flip, but you won't get the same results as over an open fire. Mark Bitmann can talk all he wants, but a NY kitchen is too limiting,

                                                            2. I tried this recipe a few weeks ago - was the best home cooked steak, ever!

                                                              http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1994...

                                                              1. I use what I call my five minute system. Pre heat cast iron pan for five minutes five minutes on each side, five minutes in the oven @ 350 and five minutes rest.I use Lawry's Season salt and have the store cut the steak 1 3/4 thick. The standard cuts are to thin and the steak does not have enough time to get a good char without over cooking.

                                                                1. To tell you the truth, I sear my steaks off so there is some nice browning on each side and pop them into the oven at 350 ° Fahrenheit. Let em bake until they are where i want them. Pull them out and wrap them in foil and let them rest for 10 - 15 minutes. Serve.

                                                                  Prep work involves letting them set on the counter at room temperature for 45 - 60 minutes. While they are setting out, I sprinkle them with kosher salt. When they are ready, I pat them dry, sprinkle with pepper maybe some granulated garlic and smear some oil on each side with a brush. I think the oil helps them brown.

                                                                  I'm usually happy with that but then I don't like the taste that the restaurant char broiler imparts. I do love them on the Weber kettle though. Gives it just a tiny bit of smoke taste.

                                                                  i try to take comfort in the knowledge that Ruth's Chris steak will be $50 or more for just the steak and I pay $10 for an Angus ribeye on sale. Even if I wanted to go Kobe beef, I could buy it for $30.

                                                                  1. Like you and others on this thread, I first preheat my cast iron pan to screaming hot temperature in the oven (500F), then sear the meat on the stove top and return it to the oven to finish.

                                                                    Take a look at this terrific website, dedicated to BBQ and grilling:

                                                                    http://www.amazingribs.com/recipes/be...

                                                                    He talks about using a "reverse sear" method, whereby you first cook the interior relatively slowly, at a temperature between 225 - 275 degrees, dab the surface of the meat to remove any moisture, then sear the steak at the end on high heat. He's talking about using the grill, but the same concept applies for pan cooking.

                                                                    Cooking the interior of the meat relatively slowly first, while finishing with the searing, allows you to get a consistent doneness you want throughout the steak (rather than the grey band of meat over pink) AND the super crunchy exterior.

                                                                    1. Salt + Pepper + Hot CI Skillet (lightly oiled)
                                                                      Sear both sides
                                                                      pat of butter on top
                                                                      Finish in hot oven
                                                                      Eat

                                                                      1. The one thing I noticed that no one mentioned here is that the steak surface has to be moisture free before searing. The flavor you get and crave for in a steak comes from browning or more precisely the Maillard reaction. Maillard reactions generally only begin to occur above 285°F (140°C). Until the Maillard reaction occurs meat will have less flavor. If the meat surface is full of excess moisture, the searing temperature will not reach above 212°F (100°C, boiling point of water) thereby steaming the steak instead of browning it. You can speed up the Maillard reaction by blotting the steak surface with a paper towel removing any excess moisture just before searing. You can also rub the surface with brown sugar which will help with the caramelization (not my preferred method). Other than liberal amounts of salt on both sides (and brown sugar if using), I would not rub the steak with any other spice, as most spices (including black pepper) tend to burn under high temperatures. I'm currently trying out a new method. I sear the steak at medium-high in a frying pan, 3 to 4 minutes per side, then separate the meat from the bone and slice the meat perpendicular to the bone in 1" strips. I then replace the sliced steak around the bone (it should look like a whole steak), baste the top with clarified butter, and broil it until desired doneness (time will depend on the cut and thickness of steak, could be as short as two minutes for medium-rare). The beauty with this method is, the butter keeps the steak slices moist (not to mention the added flavor), and you're easily able to control the doneness of the steak by checking it every few minutes. The broiling will also give that extra layer of browning. Serve the steak with buttery pan juices spooned over, and sprinkle with black pepper. So far it works better on a porterhouse cut than a rib-eye. It's similar to the method Peter Luger in NY uses. Hope this helps, and would appreciate any suggestions on improving this method.

                                                                        1. Make a marinade: olive oil, garlic, soy sauce, worchester sauce, steak seasoning, basil, parsley & lemon juice. 20 mins before cooking take steak out of marinade and let set for the 20 mins. Get a skillet good and hot and sear your steak on one side about 5 mins. Turn pan down, flip steak and cook an additional 3 to 5 mins depending on preferable level of doneness. When done remove to a plate to let rest. In same pan deglaze with a 1/3 cup of the marinade, add 1 tbls of butter and 1 tbls of horseradish, let slowly reduce. When a bit thick use as a steak sauce. Be careful not to burn with the added butter.

                                                                          1. I think I'm echoing what everyone else is saying…I preheat my oven to 450, then I rub my steak with olive oil, salt and pepper and let it rest for 20 minutes or so. The I heat my cast-iron skillet until it's very hot, and set the steak in the middle (I love that satisfying sizzle), and let it sit there for about four minutes or so, without touching it. I then flip it over and do the same. I then put a pat of butter on top, and stick it in the oven for about 7-9 minutes (I would rather have the oven at 500 and the steak in the oven for 4-5 minutes, but 500 sets off my smoke alarm). I take it out, let it rest for a few minutes, and voila! Usually pretty darn perfect!

                                                                            1. Yes many times as OP described years back. Kosher salted in a smoking hot cast iron pan one minute on each side stove top ... then in pre-heated hot 500 degree oven for about 3 minutes each side 4 minutes on each side total for a 1" thick top sirloin. Flipped twice. OP forgot to say be sure to open all windows have fans blowing on high and be ready to take the batteries out of smoke detectors when they all go off. Find works OK for one steak not so good if plan to feed a crowd.

                                                                              Steak au poivre is a favorite very tasty indoor preparation of a flaming pepper steak often made with cream, butter, cracked mixed pepper corns, shallots, and Cognac. Steak au poivre does not have to be tenderloin as make all the time with Top Sirloin with find results. Steak Dianne is a similar sauced steak made table-side at many top very fancy restaurants around the globe and personally go for Steak au poivre more often.

                                                                              If want a more traditional plain steak:

                                                                              Consider trying Sous-vide with a post bath hot sear for extra color with flavor. Some restaurants do this so may have had without knowing. Hear very tasty when the inside and out are the same without being over-cooked outside to get the inside as desire. More online and in the article here: http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/03/ho...

                                                                              Tasty results old-school under a broiler when get timing right on high close to element. Also about 4 minutes a side for similar steaks. They make broiler pans where the juice runs under and away while broiling a steak which used to come with most ovens as standard equipment so were readily available. I mention as used to be standard for a reduced fire risk for this once common broiled steak method. Can find at Goodwill or another second hand store used cheap - very recommended if try to broil your steak.

                                                                              Now usually go with a method outside over pre-heated hot lump mesquite charcoal lit with a blow torch (never lighter fluid ... yuck) in a mini-weber enclosed BBQ. Small, cheap, portable, and not really a grill. Saves charcoal for later when close up after cooking to use later. When about an inch thick 4 minutes on a side turns out about the same with less smoke in the house and more of a smoky taste in the meat. I get the lump charcoal at Cash-N-Carry for about $12.50 for 40 pound bags. Have even blown ash off charcoal with a blow dryer and cooked my steak directly on it after seeing it done on PBS Primal Grill® with Steven Raichlen. Cool while prefer a per-heated lubed grate low to minimize my ash attached to end results. Understand if this is too much of a grill for some who want to cook inside - please see ideas above and ignore this mini-Weber kettle thing available at Wilco Farm stores for $25 on sale.

                                                                              Steak is a favorite main dish to anchor other quality food where the 'fluff' can add to the eating experience. Surf adds to turf. Salad is my favorite side often alone to minimize carbs. Sometimes splurge for a twice baked or a baker with all the trimmings. When no baker another splurge is quality thick onion rings with a sauce made with sour cream, chopped chives, and a few drops liquid smoke. Sometimes a home made steak sauce such as my home made combo that would taste kinda like a majority A1, some Heinz 57, with a touch of Worcestershire, and a few drops of chipotle smoky hot sauce. Capsaicin is a flavor expander and opens the taste buds. Different peppers effect different parts of the tongue so best to add to a sauce, sprinkle, or rub with a blend of various peppers types. Also like my bites of steak or prime rib dipped in a creamy HOT horseradish preparation with sour cream sometimes a little mayo (if not fresh grated Beaver hot horseradish and a sour cream with no corn starch mayo not necessary but can cut the sour cream into a more unique sauce). Best when the horseradish sauce makes it so it is hard for me to breathe as well as makes my eyes water when eat. On top of the steak sometimes put a pat of butter or if in a mood dip steak bites in melted butter flavored with fresh smashed garlic chopped fine (so tasty with various sea food like: lobster, crab, prawns, shrimp, halibut, thresher shark, oysters, muscles, clams, ...). Bacon adds awesome flavor with tenderloin and works to add into other steak meals even if only a generous portion on the potato. I like mixed fresh cooked mushrooms on the side - especially enjoy the more exotic local wild edible mushroom kinds when in season uniquely tasty cooked by someone practiced. At the end do not forget a scoop of ice cream: spumoni, peppermint, and mint chocolate chip are favorites.

                                                                              Can eat most of this at home or go out and get a similar meal locally in Portland, OR at Sayler's Country Kitchen where steaks are inexpensive enough when feel lazy or for special occasion can eat one out and have enough left overs to eat anther at home the next day: http://www.saylers.com/dining-room.html NOTE: Sayler's has been a local favorite on holidays for decades of many because of the combination of good food, great service, monster quantity, for great prices. Not many steak houses do better anywhere and could be a model more should copy. Employees seem happy and notice there for decades.

                                                                              1. Cut steak up into thin strips cook with stir fried vegetables like onions, garlic, green peppers, veg oil in pan, instant stir fry. Add pepper and salt to taste. I suppose you could add any spices you like.