Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Apr 18, 2007 01:28 PM

Vegeterian Cooking Steak

You all got me through the chicken cooking incident for my fiance's birthday. Now we've moved into a new apartment and he just got a nice bottle of red wine, so I'm considering being really really nice and making him a steak tongiht.

How do I shop for, prepare, and cook a steak that I dont have to touch except with tongs or a plastic bag? I have no idea where to begin! Thanks....

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. My favorite cut is a ribeye and I think it tastes pretty great just seared in a hot pan with salt and pepper, then finished in an (400-450ish)oven til it's done. You can use the tongs to toss in and out of the pan. Though I usually use my finger to test the doneness...

    14 Replies
    1. re: baloney

      Agreed. If you don't want to touch the meat, a thermometer will be great to help figure out when it's done (130 for med rare). He'll be so impressed that you cooked a steak but the elation may fall if it is well-done!

      1. re: laurendlewis

        Except then you ruined the man's steak by puncturing it before it rested. I sure hope she buys an inexpensive cut!

        1. re: DSan

          i cant puncture at all before resting? so i just base it on timing?

          1. re: Nalega

            If you puncture before resting all the juice will run out, thereby defeating the sear. You don't need to base on timing. If he likes medium rare it should be about as firm as your palm right between your thumb and index finger. Press your palm with your tongs to get a sense for the feel, then press the steak. If he wants it medium, it'll be more firm, rare will be less firm.

            1. re: DSan

              Piercing a steak to insert an instant-read thermometer won't let "all the juices run out" any more than a sear 'seals in the juices'.

              1. re: ricepad

                And yet every chef on earth says to never pierce the steak... go figure.

                1. re: DSan

                  Well, no...probably only the ones that think that mushrooms need to be brushed, since 'every chef on earth' knows that rinsing them will waterlog them.

                  Steaks are not balloons, so a single piercing won't make all the juices run out. Steaks are more like bubble wrap, so only the individual bubbles that get pierced have their juices run out.

                  1. re: DSan

                    Hrm. Every place I worked that served steak we used a thermometer, or plain skewer to check doneness. Didn't always use it -- more steaks then I like to admit got plated after someone's thumb prodded them.

                    But I never once had anyone - much less Chef (at the one place I worked high end enough for us to be calling him Chef) -- tell me that I shouldn't stick a thermometer in a steak to see if it was done enough.

                    Hell, once place I worked, we were supposed to check that medium+ steaks were done enough by slitting them open a little on the side, and opening it up to take a peek.

                2. re: DSan

                  I personally don't use a thermometer for meats but perhaps if you left it in while the meat was resting, it might help the juice from prodigiously squirting out?

              2. re: DSan

                I have cooked literally thousands of steaks for more than 40 years, buy from the best sources in the US, cook on a charcoal grill, and use a fork to turn the meat. Since one is going between fibers lengthwise, and if you get a good sear, I have never, ever felt that I was harming the steaks. Not a single guest complained either. Feel free to use the instant meat thermometer as well. Good luck.

                1. re: steakman55

                  If Nalegala wasn't so precious the touching method works the best.

                  1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                    i have a thermometer, and did not have any problem making a perfectly good steak without touching it.

                    1. re: Nalega


                      So it was a hit? Would you do it again?

                      1. re: renov8r

                        THanks to everyone for the help - turns out making a perfect steak isn't so difficult. Though he was the one who tried to cut into it before it had rested, and I had to explain to him why he couldn't. He said "what do you know about steak anyway?". And I just smiled. I made a some carmelized onions on the side and some seasoned oven fries that came out crispy and perfect.

                        I can't say that I plan on making meat on a regular basis. Once or twice a year is more than enough. :)

          2. While there are several cuts that have their merits, I beleive the best steak for a novice to prepare at home is going to be a classic boneless rib-eye and the simplest prep is classic "steak house".

            You want to get beef graded as CHOICE as the presence of well-grained flecks of fat will make it easier to cook and tastier. Do not buy anything smaller than 6 oz (.4 lbs) and make sure that it is well over one and one quarter inches thick. It must have at least a quarter inch of fat around the outer edge, but should not have more than half to three quarters of inch of fat.

            As to preparation, the classic method is high heat broiling, preferably over an open flame or under a smoking hot broiler. If using a broiler it must be preheated to as high a temperature as a home broiler can sustain, approxamately 550. Ideally you should preheat the broiling pan as well, but this is impractical unless the pan is cast iron. A ridged cast iron pan is ideal for this. The use of tongs is mandatory, a fork will pierce the surface crust and ruin it with flowing juices. A spatula, by itself, is unwieldy -- though having one at hand is recommended.

            The meat should NOT be taken directly from the ice box and placed on the heated broiling pan, the temperature shock is too great and will result in too long a cooking time and an overcooked exterior/undercooked center. Instead the meat should be allowed to come up close to room temperature. The surface should be dried of moisture and clear of loose fat that is sometimes left on by the butcher -- the fat would burn and the moisture would steam instead of giving the distinctive char. It may be seasoned with a bit of coarse salt and smeared with a cut garlic clove to give a bit of flavor, but other flavors will probably not hold up. A tiny spritz of oil may be helpful to aid in the initial cooking/crust formation. The broiling pan should be no closer to the heat than 3x the thickness of the steak. The meat should be gently lowered on to the hot surface. Plopping it on too hard might result in searing too deeply on the hot surface. After about 90 seconds to 3 minutes the surface will probably be cooked. If it comes away from the heated surface cleanly and there is distinctive crust/sear markings you are in good shape. If a peek suggests the crust is not set OR it does not yield to the tongs (ie it adheres to the broiling surface) give it another 30 seconds. Place the steak onto a large spatula or spare dinner plate, re-arrange your grip on it, and prepare to place the uncooked side onto a clean, hot portion of the broiling surface. Continue to cook for approximately 30% less than on the first side. You don't want to drive the juices out from the cooked side. Repeat the flipping procedure, this time taking care to rotate the steak 45 degrees from the initial grid pattern to give the cross hatch to the cooked side. This heating will start to determine the doneness. Typically RARE takes a 4 flips (two per side) for a total of 6-8 mins, Med. Rare, 7-9, Medium, 9-10, Medium Well 11-12 Well -- PLEASE NO STOP, that is just too long!

            Place the steak on warmed plate, sprinkle with fresh ground pepper, allow to rest for about 2 minutes. Spend the rest of the night wondering how something so simple can be the basis of 90% of America's idea of "fancy going out to eat" food...

            8 Replies
            1. re: renov8r

              Nice details! Personally, I think the broiler method is hard because broilers (mine at least) are so finicky.

              1. re: laurendlewis

                Pretty much all the steps apply equally to the "outdoor grill". The preheat, the gentle lowering, the careful turn over, the rotated flip.

                The thing about a nice piece of steak is that it needs so little to taste so good. Overcooking it will kill it, and a thick piece of meat, watched constantly and flipped carefully is hard to overcook. If the sizzle turns to smoking, you have a hotter broiler than almost any home oven.

                Undercooking under a broiler is easily corrected by upping the cook time.

              2. re: renov8r

                Why go for Choice beef, when you can go top shelf and get Prime beef?

                1. re: swsidejim

                  Wait, What's the difference...what is the "best" vs, what's a "good middle range" and what should I just never ever buy?

                  1. re: Nalega

                    choice is the grade most steak is at grocery store, prime beef is the top shelf of the USDA grading scale.

                    Either will work, but I was just wondering why the poster recommended Chocie instead of Prime.

                    1. re: Nalega

                      I think trying to cook Prime at home is dicey -- the extra fat content means that you have to watch the heat a bit more closely.

                      Choice is frankly as good as you can REALLY trust, as PRIME is like 1% or less of all meat, and some places misrepresent for the MASSIVE up charge.

                      I personally would NEVER buy a "SELECT" grade for steak, it is just too lean -- I don't care if it raised in some one's lap. eating only Special K and Soy Puffs, branded by a movie star or sold in store with a name synanomous with the Great Plains, if ain't CHOICE just DO NOT BUY IT!

                      BTW_ I did not seriously consider you might have an aversion to "touching" the meat, but if you do I think it is entirely possible to cook and plate with only tongs/spatula...

                      1. re: renov8r

                        ive done it for other meals. besides, in a restuarant we like to assume that a cook isnt sticking his or her bare fingers into your food, so the idea is that i can do the same

                        1. re: Nalega

                          actually, in most good restaurants the cooks do stick their bare fingers into your food. sorry.

                2. I would go to a good butcher shop, ask them for a nice piece of steak, that's already pre-seasoned. The best tactic IMO would be to prepare everything (make side dishes, set the table etc.) and ask your fiance to cook the steak (it shouldn't take too much time). Better that than ruining it - plus you'll learn how he does/likes it, so you can make it the same way next time.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: welle

                    THAT IS FANTASTIC ADVICE. If you are unwilling to touch it, then how woudl you be able to prepare it, season it, plate it???

                    1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                      Wow, that's obnoxious. I like to cook, but have been a vegetarian for more than half my life and never had a chance to learn to cook meat. What's wrong with me wanting to expand my culinary horizons and to do something nice for my family on a special occasion? We are all here to learn something about food, and this is what I'm trying to learn today.

                      1. re: Nalega

                        The reaction was to your unwillingness to touch it.

                        1. re: Nalega

                          I think it is admirable that you are willing to do something a little outside of your comfort zone for someone else- bravo!

                        2. re: normalheightsfoodie

                          A good butcher will prepare almost everything for you - cut it, trim it and season to your liking. Even would give an advice on a cooking time for the specific cut. All left is cook and serve.

                      2. I just remembered that Wall Street Journel had "Perfect Steak" recipe by famous Laurent Tourundel (chef who runs the BLT empire here in NYC). He also recommends buying bone-in cut for more flavor and use cast iron skillet. I thought it may help:

                        The Perfectly Cooked Steak

                        Yield: 4 servings
                        Active preparation time: 5 minutes
                        Cooking time: About 20 minutes for rare or medium rare

                        4 to 5 pounds porterhouse or bone-in ribeye steak, 1½ to 2 inches thick
                        Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
                        • Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

                        • On the stove top, heat a large, dry skillet until it is very hot. Season the steak well with salt and pepper and sear for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until it has a dark crust.

                        • Place skillet in preheated oven for about 14 minutes for a 1 1/2-inch steak. Cook to between rare and medium rare, because residual heat will continue cooking the meat while it is resting. To test for doneness, press your finger to the meat; it should yield to the touch but not be too soft. The chef says a thermometer will pierce the meat and allow the juices to run out.

                        • Rest steak for at least 5 minutes before slicing or serving.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: welle

                          Bone in has more flavor, but the odds of vegetarin indentifying a nice bone it steak that is well trimmed -- I mean folks that go to steak houses know what "looks like a nice steak" vs what looks like something you'd roast / looks like a lmab chop...