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Need help with my steak!

I'm trying to perfect my steaks and I'm running into a few problems. I think the biggest problem could be my steaks to begin with.

I've been buying my meat at my local Kroger because there really aren't any good butchers close. I would really like to get some USDA Prime but I just really can't seem to find anywhere around that has it. (I live in Columbus OH if anybody knows of anywhere..) I've been working with boneless ribeye because its a moderately cheap cut and one that I like from a restaurant.

The method I have been using is to heat my cast iron skillet to a pretty high temperature. I then lightly salt and pepper the steak and brush some vegetable oil on both sides. I then cook it for about 2 min and 15 seconds on each side and then brush a little butter on each side then keep flipping until desired doneness- about medium.

Before tonight my steak just didn't have much flavor. It was okay, but it wasn't that steakhouse-oh-my-god quality steak flavor.. I would rate the flavor about a 4/10. The steak has usually been fairly tender.. maybe a 7.5/10. Then tonight I did the same method and got a better flavor (6.5/10) but my steak came out ridiculously tough.

I think it may be the beef I'm using. But I did it before once with beef that I got out of town that I know was dry-aged.. I think it may have been choice.. but I just didn't get satisfying flavor.

So is there anything I'm doing wrong??

PS- I live in an apartment that outlaws outdoor grills so that's out of the question.. from what I've read though steakhouses usually use the skillet method anyway.

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  1. Stop flipping.

    Getting your cast iron pan screaming hot, cook for about 2 minutes on each side (depending on how well done you like your steak and how thick it is), then stick the entire thing (pan and steak) into a preheated oven to finish off cooking.

    The more you flip the less likely you are to get a nice char on the steak, which is what you want.

    11 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      flip it back to the original side before sticking it in the oven?

      I forgot to mention.. that's what I was doing at first and still didn't get much good flavor.

      1. re: yossarian22

        Cook one side for 90 seconds, flip it and then slip the cast iron pan w/ steak into a preheated 350° oven for 2-3 minutes. Remove and rest the steak covered for 5 minutes.

        Consume, and repeat as necessary.

      2. re: ipsedixit

        food science maven harold mcgee would disagree. he recommends flipping often.

        also, you might try thoroughly salting the steak an hour before you cook it.

        1. re: linus

          I've heard salting it well before can draw the moisture out, therefore you end up with a dry steak.

          1. re: pj26

            Most steaks at the supermarket are full of water. Salting will remove some of this water and concentrate the flavors. There should still be plenty of flavor and moisture from the fat. If the steak is too lean there lies the problem

            1. re: scubadoo97

              Korsher salt and pepper fairl heavily, about 30-45 min. before cooking. What happens is that the salt first draws water out of the steak, but then when the salt dissolves in the water, IT GOES BACK INTO THE STEAK. Then you have seasoned meat throughout the steak, and you have a fairly dry surface again. Do it, set on the counter, and watch it happen -- from dry to wet to dry.

              I go with the sear, flip, sear and oven. No multi-flipping.

              1. re: woodburner

                Woodburner, in oven do you bake like acgold said or broil?

                1. re: ios94

                  bake to finish. I get really thick ribeyes (1.5 to 2") and so on the grill I go direct on each side, then indirect and covered to finish. In the house either stovetop pan or broiler on two sides, then bake in oven to finish.

            2. re: pj26

              There's a science to salting a steak, with 2 time periods that yield good results, and a middle ground that yields poor results. Serious Eats did a steak salting experiment.

              Salt tends to draw moisture out. But after a certain time period, that moisture will be drawn back into the muscle. So a steak salted for more than 30 minutes loses and then regains the moisture, while the salt has a tenderizing effect on the muscle fibers, and imparts good flavor on the steak. The end result is a more tender steak with little moisture loss. Salt immediately before cooking, and there's zero tenderizing or moisture effect, but you get flavor enhancement from the salt. Then there's the middle ground - more than 3-4 minutes, less than 30 minutes - where the salt draws moisture out, but that moisture doesn't have time to reabsorb. You end up with a steak that's actually less juicy than if you had done nothing. Also, if you don't dry the steak, the moisture on the steak interferes with searing. So there's an optimal time for salting (greater than 30 minutes), and less optimal, but still good time (immediately), and a not good time (more than 3-4 minutes, less than 30 minutes).

              1. re: foreverhungry

                Thanks. I'm an over 30 min. salter in most cases. Good to know

            3. re: linus

              I've heard this. Flip often to get the upper surface to dry so that when you flip it back, it will crust up more, and that builds flavor. Most TV chefs I've seen say DON'T TOUCH IT!!!

          2. More char really only means you will get the taste of char... which is great if that's what you want. But that doesn't necessarily mean better steak flavor.

            But the skillet in the oven method is indeed the way to go. One or two minutes in a hot pan, then flip and into a hot (500F) oven. You may need more salt and you probably need a fattier steak. If you're buying at Kroger, not only are you not getting Prime, you probably aren't even getting Choice. If you're stuck with Select (or even ungraded) then that explains both blandness and toughness (and I suspect that's what you are getting if you consider rib-eye a fairly cheap cut). Try to get to a Costco, if you can, where you can get both Choice and sometimes even Prime. Dry aging will make it even better but you can't really do this with individual steaks. If you get a whole rib-eye from Costco and you have space in your fridge then it's easy to dry-age the whole thing for a few weeks and carve off a slab whenever you feel like one.

            I actually wait to put the butter on until the resting period so it doesn't burn in the pan... you are letting it rest after cooking, yes?

            1. Your problem is that you are "LIGHTLY" seasoning your steak with s&p. go heavier than you may think with the salt.

              Plus, you are never goign to get steakhouse quality steak with kroger steak :)

              Here's my post that I did on steaks. It gives my step by step directions on a GRILL (not skillet).

              http://www.thefoodpirates.com/2011/03...

              Like I said, my main suggestion is to just salt it more. (going by the fact that you said "lightly" salted)

              1. Hey Catch, l am a member of the only turn once, no salt, then hot oven, cadre. Get my prime meat at Costco, boneless ribeye. Cook about 2-2.5 inches thick, 4 minutes first side, two second side, then oven until meat thermometer says 117 degrees, let rest @ 6-8 minutes, good to go. Use finishing salt after carving

                1. Also, I season the steak about an hour before cooking - let it sit out at room temperature. I leave the plate in the micro to keep it away from prying kitty noses or dogs who can reach the counter but wouldn't dream of touching anything (unless I'm not looking).