Sometimes there’s nothing better than a juicy, slightly charred, well-seasoned steak.
In our house, we might have steak once a month because it’s one of my husband’s favorites (a self-proclaimed “meat and potatoes” guy), and quickly becoming a fast favorite of my son.
Besides tasting great, steak also happens to be quick and easy to prepare, which fits nicely into our busy weekly schedules. How to cook a great steak has been a project of mine over the years, and — shocker — I think it turns out best with the simplest of preparations.
I’ve tried various cuts of steak from sirloin to filet, and t-bone to porterhouse. However, our absolute favorite to cook with AND eat is rib-eye.
It has a lot of marbling (also known as *fat*), along with a tender grain, which makes for a piece of steak that melts in your mouth … when it’s cooked properly.
If you pay attention, you can usually find packages of steak on sale at the grocery store every week or two, and when I stumble across a good deal on rib-eyes, I stock up on a bunch and transfer them to freezer bags and then into our deep freeze to save both time and money.
When it’s time to cook, I typically prep steaks very simply by patting them dry, coating them with Montreal seasoning (or just a generous amount of salt and pepper), and then setting them on the counter to rest for fifteen minutes before hitting the pan.
I find allowing steaks to come to room temp beforehand allows for more even cooking when they go in a hot pan, or on a hot grill. Though, there are plenty of folks who say it doesn’t matter one bit. You do you!
I’ve also started salting my beef as soon as possible after returning from the store. It’s a tip I learned while watching SALT FAT ACID HEAT on Netflix (and thumbing through Samin’s cookbook of the same name).
Definition of ‘sear’ from Dictionary.com: —verb (used with object) burn or char the surface of: She seared the steak to seal in the juices.
Then, cooking steaks is very simple. Whether you’re grilling outside, stove top, or broiling, the goal is the same: sear the outside and then don’t fuss with them.
Over the years, I’ve used a variety of steak-cooking methods.
For a long time, my go-to was a grill pan on top of the stove.
I’d let the grill pan preheat on medium-high with a couple tablespoons of olive oil before adding the (typically one-inch-thick) steaks and searing both sides for four minutes apiece, until a perfect medium-rare was achieved.
My current cooking method is similar to above, except I’ve traded the grill pan for cast iron, and I use a hot oven to finish off the steaks.
How to Cook a Great Steak
First I preheat the oven to 425°F, get my cast iron skillet(s) super hot, and then sear each side of the seasoned steaks for two minutes. The steak should sizzle when it hits the pan, so if you hear nothing then you need a hotter pan.
Except for turning them once, remember not to fuss with the steaks … don’t move them, don’t pick them up, don’t peek, don’t cut into them, don’t do anything! In fact, while they’re cooking it’s a great time to make your salad, check on the kids, read a chapter in your book … something other than touching the steak.
I always set my timer so that I don’t forget to come back to them when the time’s right.
(I use my kitchen timer for so. many. things. I really can’t be trusted without it.)
When the two minutes are up, flip your steaks and repeat the paragraph above, again for two minutes.
The really hot pan ensures that — even in two minutes — each side gets nice and browned before moving the skillet to the oven.
Slide the cast iron skillet (or skillets … sometimes I need more than one) into the oven, and let the steaks finish cooking for fifteen minutes.
Reminder: the skillets’ handles will be HOT, so have a potholder handy for when it’s time to take them out.
Move the steaks to a plate and let them rest for at least five minutes before serving so that the juices have the opportunity to absorb back in. If you were to cut into the steak right after it’s removed from the pan, all the yummy juices would run out.
After patiently waiting the five or ten minutes before digging in, what you’re left with is a succulent steak, buttery in texture, with a charred undertone — so juicy you’d think each bite was dipped in au jus. Seriously.
The only things that make these steaks better are creamy mashed potatoes and a fresh, crisp salad.
- 2 rib-eye steaks (1 or 1-1/2" thick)
- 2 tablespoons Montreal seasoning*
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Pat the steaks dry, and then sprinkle half the Montreal seasoning on the exposed side of each steak, and then let them rest while the skillet(s) preheat.
- Add the oil to a large cast iron skillet (or two smaller skillets) set over medium-high heat. Once the skillet is hot, and just as the oil starts to smoke, add the steaks, seasoned-side down. Sprinkle the remaining seasoning on the tops, and let them sear for 2 minutes. Flip the steaks, cook for another 2 minutes, and then put the skillet(s) into the oven.
- After 15 minutes, take the skillets out and remove the steaks to a plate to rest for 5 or 10 minutes before serving.
*If you don't have Montreal seasoning, use salt and pepper in a 2:1 ratio.
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- Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking