Emergency Dinner Filter: How do I prepare these steaks?
February 15, 2015 3:54 PM   Subscribe

I am preparing a special dinner for my SO and would like to amaze him with my cooking skills. The problem: I'm planning to serve dinner in an hour and a half and have no idea how to prepare a steak!

I have two steaks that I am planning to make for dinner. They are called "Pepper Ranch Steaks" and are from the Cattle Co. They have been thawing on the counter for the past four hours and are mostly 'not frozen.' I've done a bit of Googling, but am now unsure of how to proceed. Should I bake the steaks? If so, for how long at at what temperature? If I fry (this feels like wrong word) them, how do I know they are cooked? I am concerned about both over and under cooking these suckers.

I have an oven, a stove top, and different types of pans. Also, I have a delicious barbeque sauce and butter. The rest of the meal: I am making a bacon Caesar salad and a sweet corn souffle (these items are both on track to taste incredible - the steak is the problem).

Thank you for saving my dinner!
posted by WaspEnterprises to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I am not a steak expert, but per someone I knew I rub my steaks in butter, season with salt and pepper if necessary, sear on both sides in a frying pan, then put them in the oven at 500 deg until done. Apparently the trick is to put the baking sheet in the oven as it preheats so the steaks immediately contact heat when you put them in.
posted by olinerd at 3:58 PM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

How thick are they?
posted by deludingmyself at 4:00 PM on February 15, 2015

I made steak the other day after watching this Mark Bittman video, and it came out great. I had a different cut of steak, but it still worked.
posted by momochan at 4:03 PM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

The best way to do indoor steaks is with a cast iron skillet, because it can go right from the stove top into the oven. If you don't have a cast iron, do what Olinerd says and put the baking sheet in the oven while you preheat it to 500 degrees

Heat your pan on the oven with some olive oil or fat of your choice. Let it get hot. Salt the steaks. Put them in the pan and sear on one side for about two minutes. Flip the steaks and immediately put them in the oven. How long to put them in the oven is a bit of a trick, and depends on the steak. I usually find that for a steak of about 1 to 1.5 inches thick, 7 to 8 minutes in the oven is my preferred time, which gets you a steak about medium to maybe a bit medium well.

Overcooking a steak is much worse than undercooking it - so ere on the side of shorter time in the oven and check them.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:05 PM on February 15, 2015 [6 favorites]

If they're an inch thick or more, I can recommend these instructions from Tiny Urban Kitchen, which have you bake and then pan-sear. It's an especially forgiving method for a steak newbie.
posted by deludingmyself at 4:05 PM on February 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

- Let Steaks come to Room Temperature on the inside.

- Get a Cast Iron Pan or Grill pan screaming hot.

- Sear steaks. Flip. Finish in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or so. Only 4 to 5 minutes if your steaks are very thin.

- Let rest 10 min on a plate. Serve.

Next post will be about seasoning and getting your steaks to room temp in a jiffy....
posted by jbenben at 4:09 PM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm a broiler girl. Season, 8 minutes on each side.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:15 PM on February 15, 2015

Are your steaks in a ziplock or thick plastic vac packed bag? If so, submerge them in COLD water for 15 minutes or so to get all the "frozen" out. Let sit on the counter an additional 20 min or so to let them get room temp.

Cast Iron is the way to go. Make sure the steaks are dry so they sear properly. When to flip? When an nice crispy crust has formed and the steaks lift away easily from the pan!

Now. About seasoning...

A quick google tells me your steaks are already seasoned? Am I right?

You could brush some melted butter on them, but I wouldn't. I would do some of kind of a reduction in the cooking pan while the steaks rested (red wine and shallots?) and whack gobs of butter (and salt and pepper to taste!) after I turned the heat off the pan.

IF your steaks are unseasoned - you are in luck!!

While your steaks are hanging out on the counter, salt them with a few tablespoons of kosher or sea salt. If some quality garlic powder got is there, it would be a mitzvah! A lot of liquid will come out of the meat. This is good. After 30 to 45 minutes, rinse off all the seasoning and paper towel those steaks until they are bone bone dry. Into the hot pan with them, then!!

Add black pepper after they cook. Pepper burns. No additional salt. They are now salted enough.

Your steaks are probably pre-seasoned, but for future reference. Anyway, Bon Apetit!
posted by jbenben at 4:18 PM on February 15, 2015 [4 favorites]

I do mine on the stove top in a pan with a smidge of olive oil. Butter is good too. I have Calphalon cookware, not cast iron.

You put them in the pan and you LEAVE them until they're ready to flip. You should get a nice sear/crust on them. I like mine pink in the middle.

You only flip once and you don't move them around.

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:21 PM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Keep the BBQ sauce far far away from your steaks. Or serve on the side.

I have made successful reduction sauces that used red wine + a tablespoon or so of BBQ sauce + butter at the end to make a velvety resulting glaze, but don't experiment if you are not 100% certain of your flavors.
posted by jbenben at 4:24 PM on February 15, 2015

I find it's much easier to get consistent steaks by putting them in the oven at low temp first, then searing. For reasonably thick steaks, I put them in the toaster oven at 250 for maybe 45 minutes, then sear on cast iron for just 1 or 2 minutes per side. But it's hard for me to guess the timing without seeing your steaks or knowing how you like them done.

The best suggestion of course is to practice, but it sounds like it's too late for that. Your cooking instincts will likely lead you to overcook them the first time, beware.
posted by ryanrs at 4:50 PM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I also find my steaks keep cooking even after I remove them from heat, making it easy to overcook, so I advise removing them when they still look a bit more raw than you like and let them rest to doneness.
posted by olinerd at 5:27 PM on February 15, 2015

There's great advice on the actual cooking here. For future reference, do not defrost potentially harmful food items (i.e. anything that needs to be refrigerated) on the counter. In the fridge, or under cold running water. This keeps the product at safe temperatures.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:13 PM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm a pretty good home cook. I have tried for years to perfect the indoor cooking of steaks. Cast iron, seared, finished in hot oven, etc., and every variation thereof. I never got the promised tender and juicy results and my kitchen always ended up filled with smoke.

But last night, I heated up olive oil and butter in a nonstick pan (because it was handy), salted and peppered two grass-fed filets mignons, cooked them at high heat for three and a half minutes per side, topped with a dab of butter, and let them sit on a cutting board for five minutes. They were perfect - crusted and seared without, dark pink/red and juicy within, and very tender. It was the least fussy way I have ever tried and it's the method I will use from here on out.

BTW, it is a myth that defrosting in warm water is dangerous. "It turns out that we can thaw frozen steaks and other compact cuts in as little as 10 minutes, without compromising their quality, and with very little effort. All you need is hot water. " I do it all the time, with steak, chicken, and fish.
posted by caryatid at 9:23 AM on February 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

...my kitchen always ended up filled with smoke...But last night, I heated up olive oil and butter

I think smoke is just going to happen with steaks. They tend to call for very high heat. Olive oil and high heat are a smoky combination, especially extra virgin olive oil. It smokes at a lower temperature than butter, but even butter is going to burn at high temperatures. I use nothing. Just steaks on the pan. I add butter to the pan near the end of the cooking so it doesn't burn and still gives it that nice rich bit of flavor.

I get results like yours, plus smoke, so when it's steak night it's time to turn the range fan on full blast and open the windows for a few minutes.
posted by Hoopo at 11:15 AM on February 16, 2015

Er, olive oil has a much higher smoke point than butter. That's why you add butter later.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:25 AM on February 16, 2015

Er, olive oil has a much higher smoke point than butter.

oops yeah, it's just ghee that has the higher smoke point. My bad. I wouldn't use ghee with steaks. Or olive oil for that matter. Put the steak in the hot pan raw dog, salt and pepper only, and add butter at the end.
posted by Hoopo at 10:02 AM on February 17, 2015

That would only work in a nonstick pan, which will start throwing off toxic fumes at the heat required to get a good Maillard reaction--nonstick is good only for eggs. Might work in cast iron. This is why I use vegetable oil (higher smoke point) for pan-roasting steaks: sear one side, flip, into the oven, back out, add butter (and maybe a stick of rosemary) and baste it home. I've never bothered counting how many steaks I've served this way, but it's got to be in the hundreds.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:31 AM on February 17, 2015

I think smoke is just going to happen with steaks.

To clarify, the smoke was always a result of putting the steaks into the oven to finish. When I eliminated the oven part of the process, and had my vent hood on high, there was no smoke.

And to verify, I got a lovely Maillard reaction and no toxic fumes using the nonstick pan, and I think it's a little extreme to claim that nonstick is only good for eggs.
posted by caryatid at 10:30 AM on February 18, 2015

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