Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Feb 22, 2010 04:37 PM

Need help to cook steak.

It's a very basic thing, but my mom never told me how to, and I was a vegetarian for many many years.
My doctor told me to eat more proteins, and I'm discovering the different kind of steak. My problem is that I don't know if what I'm doing is right or wrong.

I start the pan at medium, put the steak in it, let it cook for a while on 1 side, and when i see that half of it is cooked, I put a little bit of salt and pepper, and i switch it to the other side for a while.
I use a non stick pan, but I put a bit of butter at the end because there's this brown thing at the end, and it's delicious. I think it's called sugar?
What else can I put in my pan to deice it properly and enjoy the sugar from the meat with my steak?
Am I doing it right?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. ...and it's delicious.

    Whatever you are doing, you find it yes, you are doing it right.

    Here's a method I learned from my next door neighbor many decades ago when I was a kid. It will work fine for any steak you cook on the grill or in a fry pan for medium temperature. All you need to do is to be aware of the time, i.e., the minutes it takes to reach the point for flipping over the steak, or hamburger. Start first with a pan that has been preheated for at least a few minutes. Add a little olive oil to the pan and place the steak into it. Once the meat starts to bleed on the top side, flip the protein over. At this time, it is important to note how long it took for the juices to rise to the top of the steak. Usually, for a one inch thick steak, this will be in the 4-6 minutes range. Whatever the actual minutes are, for the second side, reduce by two minutes for a thin steak, and one minute for a thicker steak. Pull the steak off the heat source, place on a plate and let rest for 5 minutes, tented with foil or with any type of cover or aflipped over fry pan. You will have a perfectly cooked medium steak or burger.

    2 Replies
      1. re: Anarkya

        Do not put pepper on the steak before frying. The oil in pepper is easily scorched then it turns bitter. Put it on after the steak is cooked. I like to add a spring of fresh thyme was frying the steak.

    1. You have the right ingredients, let's work a little on the technique:

      1 - let the steak come to room temperature for around 30 minutes out of the fridge
      2 - Jfood suggests a VERY hot pan; most on the boards will tell you cast iron since it holds the heat best and will not lose temperature when you add the steak
      3 - place the steak in the hot pan and do not touch it, do not push it, do not squeeze it. Just stand there and whistle a tune.
      4 - When you see the edges get brown, flip it (this is called searing)

      5 - place pan with the steak into a 400 degree oven to complete the cooking.

      Invest in a thermometer at the beginning. Place through the side of the steak and check the temperature. jfood takes it out of the oven at 130 degrees. BTW - Be REAL careful using a potholder when you reach into the oven. Real freakin' hot. Burns are not fun, but is a badge of graduation.

      56 Replies
      1. re: jfood

        Thanks, j. We use our grill almost constantly but are doing a really, really thick end cut filet tonight and had been considering this basic technique but hadn't refined it. This will do great although I'll take it out at about 120. I like cow that is still breathing. And, yes, re burning, especially when it's out of the oven. Don't forget that handle is hot. I now try to remember to leave a towel over the handle. I have enough scar tissue.

        1. re: c oliver

          yeah jfood places the potholder glove on the hanlde. you just need to grab that handle once.

          1. re: jfood

            I have one of those that Bob brought me from Scottish woolens. I never use it but that's an easy one to figure out.

        2. re: jfood

          we cook our steaks the same way, altho last night we sauted shallots in the beef juices, added red wine, cooked off the alcohol and let it reduce a little, mounted with butter, yum!

          1. re: jfood

            This was absolutely perfect. Because of the cut we were doing, we seared it on all four sides. Just perfect.

            1. re: jfood

              "Jfood suggests a VERY hot pan"

              The only issue here is that a less expensive non-stick <dry> pan will NOT take high heat - So the medium to medium high heat may have to work. The other thing is, if the steak is less than an inch thick, there is really no need to finish it in the oven, regardless of the preferred doneness; however, IF the pan does need to go into the oven and it has a wooden handle, be certain to wrap the handle with aluminum foil to keep it from burning.

              1. re: CocoaNut

                IMO, any kitchen that doesn't have some sort of completely oven-proof pan is lacking one of the basics. It's one of the cheapest purchases and there are simply times when nothing else will do.

              2. re: jfood

                A followup question if I may. We're fixing a 2-1/2", 2-1/2# bone-in rib steak tonight. Do you think this technique will work for something this size? Until I read this the first time around, we'd always seared and then cooked very, very low heat. But this was great and I'd like to do it again. Eighth anniversary of our second marriage to each other deserves a great steak.

                1. re: c oliver

                  I'll answer my own question :) We used this technique last night and it was perfect. I now know I'll never cook anything thick on the grill again. The control here and also the speed has made a believer out of me.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Insert hanging head in shame.

                    jfood was having some internet connection issues at the hotel the last two nights and did not see this.

                    But, jfood is glad that it worked out for the best (both the steaks and the marriages) and he wishes you a Happy Anniversary.

                    1. re: jfood

                      No problem, laddie. Bob and I are confident grillers so this was a surprise to us. I sometimes do a butterflied leg of lamb on the grill. I wonder if this technique would work for that. It's certainy no thicker than that steak was. We continue to celebrate by sending Bob away to play in a golf tournament. Absence and fonder, ya know?

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Yeah jfood saw his score at Augusta as -5, pass on the congrats.

                        The technique works well with fish steaks as well.

                        Personally jfood would like to experience Alan's sous vide method for a leg of lamb.

                        1. re: jfood

                          Could you elaborate here or on its own thread (maybe you already have) regarding fish steaks please?

                          I'm finally getting interested in sous vide. Maybe I can get Alan to come up the hill and show me how. Or anything else he wants to share. What a guy.

                          1. re: c oliver


                            - preheat oven to 400
                            - take a fish steak like salmon, halibut, etc and S&P
                            - cut up your favorite veggies like red/yellow peppers, brussel sprouts, sweet onion, mushrooms, etc If you have a lemon cut a few wedges.
                            - bring pan to real hot
                            - place a little evoo into pan
                            - place fish (carefully) into hot oil (if it has a skin then skin side up
                            - keep on high heat until you get a nice crust.
                            - slide to next burner and carefullflip fish
                            - add the veggies around the fish (you can put a little wine or lemon juice in a s well) and place the pan in the oven to finish
                            - finish, remove and serve

                            Great quick mid-week meal

                            MAJOR ADVICE:
                            - when you remove the pan and place on the trivet be VERY careful since the the handle is 400 degrees. Then after you remove the fish and the pan is empty place the potholder on the handle. OK you ask why? you eat dinner and then start to clear the dishes, and you grab the handle to place in the sink. OUCH!!!


                            1. re: jfood

                              Yep. That never used oven mitt has a job finally. That handle stays hot QUITE a while.

                            2. re: c oliver

                              Another technique for fish fillets, one I learned from Fish Without a Doubt and now use almost exclusively, is to heat a cast iron skillet under the broiler for a full 15 minutes. Place well oiled and seasoned fillets skin-side down on the pan and broil for 3 or four minutes depending on thickness and desired degree of doneness. No need to turn the fish, and you get get perfectly crisp, delicious skin.

                              1. re: JoanN

                                I was just rereading this thread for tonight's dinner. This sounds so good.

                            3. re: jfood

                              -5 is new math, right? "Old" math is more like +16. To remain on-topic, we went to the Masters in '93 and the sandwiches were $2 and I read the other day that they still are. I don't remember that we had pimento cheese however.

                        2. re: c oliver

                          "I now know I'll never cook anything thick on the grill again".

                          I hate to hear you say that...It brings a tear to me eye! :(

                          1. re: Uncle Bob

                            Well, perhaps I exaggerated slightly :)

                      2. re: jfood

                        I did this with home ground beef burgers last night and it worked great! We're at late MIL's clearing things out and there's no grill. It's scorching hot out so we had no desire to go out to dinner (just walking to the car sounded blech). Got a CI skillet medium hot, seared the burgers for about two minutes max per side and then put into the 400 oven. Cooked for about 5 minutes to 125 degrees, putting the cheese on a couple of minutes before they were done. Nice and pink and juicy. This is really becoming a useful technique, j.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          you can now graduate to fish steaks. same procedure but when you place in the oven add a bunch of veggie pieces, peppers, mushrooms, oinions and jfood's favorite halved brussel sprouts. a little white wine and a squeeze of lemon.

                          1. re: jfood

                            Oops, forgot to mention that I tossed in some Vidalia onion slices. And, yes, I've done fish once but not the veggies. Next time.

                            1. re: jfood

                              Same technique for pork chops as well ...

                                1. re: ipsedixit


                                  have you ever added sections of apples to the pan with pork chops?


                                  1. re: jfood

                                    Yes. And sometimes pineapple, mangoes, and/or papaya.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      Try sprinkling cayenne over the frutis when they go in the oven.

                            2. re: jfood

                              Alright. Yet another question. Think I could do this technique with a couple of pork tenderloins? We're in Rio where we have no grill. TIA, you old so and so :)

                              1. re: c oliver

                                Absolutely. and near the end throw some sliced onions and apple slices in the pan to get them a little caramelly. Enjoy

                                The jfoods' cab once got off the highway from the airport in the really nice neighborhood off to the right on the way into town (you know the area). It was the only time he thought he would die.

                                Enjoy the beach and be safe.

                              2. re: jfood

                                I'm so glad I saved this thread. We're back in Sonoma doing our annual exchange. It's pouring rain, no cover and they have charcoal only. We have a HUGE rib steak, about 3" thick. This is definitely the technique to use. Thanks for making our Christmas merrier. x,c

                                1. re: jfood

                                  We do ours the same - very hot cast iron skillet, always perfect and delicious.

                                  1. re: jfood

                                    I agree with jfood. The absolute perfect way to cook a steak. The finishing off in the oven is a must when you buy very thick steaks, as we do.

                                    1. re: jfood

                                      For the dozen'eth time, I cooked a steak this way. And, as always, a total winner. Thanks, jfood, whereever you are :)

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        I have a 2 inch bone in rib eye and I plan to follow this method as I've encountered nothing but overcooked steaks for some reason recently even with a thermometer which has been tested and is accurate. How long do you sear each side? Would it be OK to sear 1 minute each side on 3 sides (excluding the bone side of course) and then pop it into the oven? Do you flip it at all? How long does it usually take in the oven? Thanks.

                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                          I had to reread some of these posts to refresh my memory. With a super thick filet, I seared all four sides. It appears with a super thick rib eye, I just seared on the one side, flipped and into the oven. So at most, I'd say brown one cut side and then the 'fat' side and into the oven. Basically the final sear occurs when you flip and then put into the oven. Let us know. PS: Don't overcook :) I don't leave mine in and jfood does.

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            Yea, I really am in fear of overcooking. I have made perfect steaks for years and now for some reason I have no idea what's going on. OK, 2 inch thick bone-in so I'll do 1.5 minutes first side, 30 minutes on the edge, in the oven and let it go. I'm thinking probably 2 minutes total sear and 6 or so in the oven if I pull it at 120F. This steak looks too great to ruin :) Thanks, I'll let you know.

                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                              Please reread jfood's original post. It's not a timing thing.

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                Thanks, this works great! I was quite worried and ready to pull it out when the steak passed 12 minutes but as you said it's not a timing thing and the temperature was still low but steadily climbing. I eventually pulled it out at 16 minutes when it was 108F and it rose to 118F which was perfect for me.

                                          2. re: fldhkybnva

                                            Depending on how you like your steak, 130°F internal temp is *way* too high. Well, unless you like it med-well.

                                            We always take our beef (roast/steak) out at 120° at the most, b/c the temp will rise while it's resting. But we like our steaks on the rare side -- especially rib-eye.

                                            1. re: linguafood

                                              Yup, 120F or even 115F sometimes. Do you do the sear/oven method?

                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                With very thick steaks/chops, yes. Unless I'm grilling, of course, then I do the initial sear plus indirect heat method.

                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                  lingua, do you find that with the thicker ones you tend to use the oven? I've found that to be true for me.

                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    Pretty much. To be honest, we haven't made monster-thick steaks in a while. It's time.

                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                      They DO make the heart go pitter-patter :)

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        Indeed! I can't believe it took me this long to eventually try a rib eye but now I kind of regret it. There's no looking back...every weekend I wander to the meat counter and stare at the rib eye and it's so hard to resist especially when the butcher who knows me well whispers "you know you want one." I can't decide whether it's fortunate or unfortunate, but I usually give in :)

                                              2. re: linguafood

                                                Totally agree. jfood liked his beef much more cooked than we do.

                                              3. re: fldhkybnva

                                                I am sure somebody already brought it up and I missed it, but bringing a steak up to room temp prior to cooking gives you a more evenly cooked steak.

                                                Another thing to keep in mind is that dry aged beef has a lower moisture content and tends to cook faster.

                                                Beef near the bone also cooks slower. I try to keep the bone over the hottest part of the fire and the outer edge over the coolest part of the fire.

                                                Learning the "Press" test is key. Once you get the feel for the resistance to finger pressure of med, med rare and rare you will nail it every time. Practice it every time you cook beef, chicken or pork.

                                                1. re: Tom34

                                                  I can't seem to master the press test. When I "practice" on my hand it all feels the same. Perhaps I should do as you recommend and stick a probe in most meats I cook and press as the temperature changes.

                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                    Practice certainly helps. I have only used probes in long cook roasts so I can't say how well they work in a steak. I know some of the modern probes are pretty expensive so one would think they are pretty accurate.

                                                    There are several diff methods with the hand to get the feel. For me I use the meaty / puffy palm of the "hand" there the thumb attaches. Completely relax all muscles in the hand. Tip of thumb to tip of pointer finger puts very little tension on the puffy area and this = rare.......Tip of thumb to middle finger adds a little more tension on the puffy area and = med rare .......Tip of thumb to ring finger puts yet a little more tension on the puffy area and = Med.......Tip of thumb to tip of pinky really tightens the puffy area up and for a steak lover = a ruined steak. Key is to totally relax the hand.

                                                    1. re: Tom34

                                                      Ahh, thanks. This is the technique I've tried and it all felt the same but I think because I had no clue how exactly to press the fingers together so your tip to just relax the hand should help.

                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                        I just use my meat thermometer. The sensor is right on the tip on the digital ones so it's not hard to get an accurate reading.

                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                          Once you get the hang of it, its like riding a bike. The feel is a little different, but the same press technique works with chicken, pork and fish. Until you really get comfortable with it, use a meat thermometer in conjunction with it.

                                                          The only down side is if your cooking for somebody who never worked in a kitchen or is not a foodie. They will look at you and think, "why is he/she always touching my food with their finger"

                                            2. I have very wide overhangs on the roof right outside our kitchen. During the winter it is a great place to leave my Weber Q. Does a great job grilling a couple of rib-eyes for wife and I. During the summer when it finally dries out I will fireup the Weber Kettle and grill them right over superhot charcoal.

                                              I love grilling vs the pan method in the oven. Also it is easier to cleanup and doesn't smokeup the kitchen.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: duck833

                                                We grill in blizzards but jfood's and others technique above worked great.

                                                1. re: duck833

                                                  outside jfood's back door is a gas weber, 2 spare tanks and a shovel. grill 70% of the nights at home, but sometimes inside is just a better choice.

                                                  The indoor technique works great with fish steaks (with veggies) as well

                                                2. If you don't have a grill, or don't have access to an outside grill, I would highly suggest you invest in a good cast iron pan.

                                                  You can find them cheap at a second-hand store, or at yard sales if you are persistent enough.

                                                  If your doctor recommended more protein in your diet, chances are you were probably low in iron. Cooking with cast iron is a natural way of increasing iron in your diet.

                                                  Ok, that said, once you have a cast iron pan, you can do what jfood describes, or reverse the process -- i.e, the "reverse sear". That is, start the steak of in the oven for about 3 minutes, then sear the darn thing on a hot cast iron pan. I find that having tried both and actually prefer the reverse sear process to the more traditional. Try both, it's really personal I think.