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Nov 6, 2008 09:28 AM

Help me overcome my steak cooking phobia

So I'd like to make a nice steak dinner for my bf, who has been more wonderful than usual lately. The problem is that I have no idea how to cook a steak. I've only every tried to do so on the grill, and it's not going to be grilling weather. All griling attempts ended in tough shoe leather disaster.
I have cast iron, I have non-stick, I have access to top quality meat. All tips, foolproof techniques and recipes are welcome. I don't have a preference when it comes to cut, although I do know that I really don't prefer prime rib.
Help me hounds!

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  1. Two big huge delmonicos. Heat cast iron to seriously high. Sear outside of steak,and all around the edges. Put in 500 degree oven and cook until desired doneness.

    That is, imo, the best way to do it if you aren't willing to grill. The seasoning on the steak should just be salt, pepper and olive oil.

    1 Reply
    1. re: charlesbois

      Boom. But forget the olive oil, and top with a large portion of compound butter after it rests for a few minutes.

    2. I would cook it in your cast iron pan on the stove top, in a mixture of olive oil and butter. I really like Suzanne Goin's technique, and will try to find my report on that - you heat up the pan for about ten minutes before adding the fat.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MMRuth

        Here's a link to my post, and Rubee's above it, on her "Pan-roasted Rib Eye Steak 'Marchand de Vins'"

        The recipe calls for preheating the cast iron pan for 8 minutes on high heat, drizzle olive oil on the steaks, put in hot pan, sear for 2 minutes, add 1 T butter, cook 2 more minutes, turn over, and cook for 3-4 more minutes for medium rare. Baste often with the butter/oil in the pan. Let them rest. You then pour the fat out of the pan, add 1 T butter, 1/2 cup finely diced shallots, sautee 2 minutes over med. heat, scraping pan constantly with a wooden spoon. Add 1 cup red wine, turn up heat to high, cook four minutes, stirring all the time, until reduced by 2/3rds. Add in 3 T butter, cook another minute, remove from heat, taste for seasoning, add chopped parsley.

      2. My best tip for you is to start with a quality piece of meat that is butchered uniformly in thickness to insure consistent temperature desired. Poorly cut meat results in overcooked meat in the thinner area. My preference is to have my steak cuts butchered at least 1.5 inches thick.....but two inches is better. Also, take your steak out of the refrigerator two hours before cooking to bring it near to room temperature. This aids in achieving a cool or warm inside to the steak, rather than a cold one.

        Consider cooking one large steak instead of two....similar to how Steakhouses serve their Porterhouses for two. My suggestion is to purchase a New York Strip 2.5-3.0 inches thick, season with fresh cracked pepper, kosher salt and olive oil, pan sear in a cast iron pan a minute or two on each side....then finish cooking in the oven.....If you prefer your meat rare...using an oven temperature @ 500* would work well, but for me a 450* oven is better. I like my steaks medium-rare......absent of a quality thermometer to check your meat temperature doneness, cook the steak for 10-12 minutes, then shut the oven off and let the steak sit in the oven for another 3-4 minutes before removing. I never use a thermometer and this will result in a perfectly cooked Medium-Rare Steak.......Transfer the steak to a plate and tent some foil over it. Take the pan juices and add some chopped shallots and fresh mushrooms.....deglaze with red or port wine, and finish with some pats of butter swirled into the wine reduction.

        Slice the steak on an angle/bias into half inch slices. Transfer to plates and add the pan gravy.

        For a simpler recipe, the same cooking method as above, but try Tuscan Style. Marinate your steak in fresh herbs, e.g., oregano ..... After slicing, add olive oil and fresh lemon juice...

        1 Reply
        1. re: fourunder

          Start with a really good porterhouse. Cut at least 1-1/2" - 2" thick.

          Marinate it in L&P for a bit.

          Adjust the rack in your oven to be fairly close to the broiler.

          Broil on high, but DON'T walk away. It will cook quickly.

          Test for doneness, and let it sit for a bit. Enjoy. Sauteed onions and mushrooms, along with french fries, are nice additions.

        2. "Tough shoe leather" -- that's a tip off. How do you like your steak cooked? If it's anything more the medium, you're going to get shoe leather unless you use a VERY tender cut like filet mignon. Also, in that case, look for Prime meat -- the extra fat will help with the overcooking.

          If you aren't overcooking, cooking a steak is simple, so "disasters" would more likely be the result of the wrong cuts (a chuck roast won't make a good steak). Shell/NY Strip would be my go to cut. Prime, if possible. Porterhouse is very tasty, but the bone means even cooking is difficult. For a beginner, better to go boneless. Indoors, I do the cast iron routine, don't need to finish in the oven.

          If you salt and pepper a steak, cook it in cast iron with just a bit of oil, there is not much that can go wrong. Don't flip it more than once, don't move it too much. Let it get a nice crust. But DON'T OVERCOOK.

          Last thing -- don't poke it full of holes while you are cooking it. Don't press down to get it sizzling. And don't cut into it right away after it's done. It needs to rest or the pressure caused by the heat (think hot air baloon) will cause all the juices to run out.

          1. An easy, fool proof and delicious recipe I would recommend is Marcella Hazan's Steak with hot pepper flakes and marsala; it is either in the Essentials of Italian Cooking or her original Classic Italian Cooking. You can use either a boneless rib eye or a stip sirloin. It is great!!