I’ve never made a good steak until fairly recently. And then…I did…perfectly. (Oh, that was after setting my kitchen on fire.)
Over the years, I’ve tried grilling and frying steak to no avail. But after a few tries, I gave up. Part of my throwing in the towel is related to budget. (Who wants to experiment on the most expensive piece of meat?) Part of it is related to the fact that I’m not a huge steak lover. But neither of those excuses stands up to the fact that my husband and oldest son LOVE steak and I love them. So, on Valentine’s Day I did my research and planned to cook up my boys’ favorite hunk of meat perfectly this time.
I headed to my local Hy-Vee store and ran into the Personal Chef there named Bryan. He helped me select the perfect cut and amount of steak for our occasion. Then, he spent several minutes talking me through exactly how to prepare the perfect pan-seared, oven-finished steak. Upon Bryan’s suggestion, I went with the New York Strip, since it was on sale and had nice marbling (read: ripples of fat throughout but not too much).
Friends–IT WORKED! Chef Bryan’s method worked! We enjoyed the perfect pan-seared steak on Valentine’s Day, along with some peel-and-eat shrimp, twice-baked potatoes, broccoli with cheese sauce, strawberries, and Brownies. Nothing fancy, but it pleased the little picky minions in my house tremendously. Now, I’m going to share my newly found secrets that even the newest of cooks can undertake!
Public Service Announcement: Ummm, like I mentioned, I might have caught my kitchen on fire in the process of making this perfect, pan-seared steak. Yikes! So, tip #1 is don’t do that! In this recipe, you’ll be instructed to get your pan extremely hot on the stove-top. My pans are steel with a copper bottom, and I forgot that they get VERY hot over my electric stove. Too hot in fact. When I poured in a little bit of olive oil in, the pan burst into flames. (I will NOT instruct you to put oil in the pan in this recipe, so don’t worry! I don’t think it even needs oil.)
Needless to say, it was very scary! And I may have cussed in front of the kids for the first time. (#oops) What should you do in that situation? Chef Bryan told me to calmly find a lid or sheet pan and set it over the fire to smother it. Another messy option is to douse the pan in baking soda (always have some right by the stove top). But, DON’T DO WHAT I DID! I ran the pan to the sink and threw the water on…which was the absolutely WRONG thing to do. I learned later that I could have splattered oil and fire everywhere! I’m lucky the flames didn’t travel to our paper towel roll right next to the sink, too! My husband and I made a strong mental note to get our fire extinguisher recharged (they lose their ability to work over time) at the fire department this week, too.
So, now that you know not to catch your kitchen on fire, let’s get on with this easy pan-seared steak recipe that may win over the heart of someone you love.
- 1-2 steaks (suggested: New York Strip)
- Steak seasoning
- Pull the steaks out of the refrigerator and let rest on counter to bring to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Pat steaks dry on both sides. Then, season generously with steak seasoning on all sides, rubbing it in with your fingers.
- Place an OVEN-SAFE, large, heavy-bottomed pan* over medium-high heat for just a few minutes. To test if it's hot enough, sprinkle a little water on it. If it sizzles, it's ready. (Note: Don't leave your pan over this high heat for long at all or it will get too hot. Mine only took about 1-2 minutes to get to temperature.)
- Using tongs, place steaks in pan without letting them touch. You will hear them immediately start to sizzle. Let them sear on this first side (without moving them!) for 1-2 minutes. When they come away from the pan easily and have sufficient browning on one side, flip the steaks to another part of the pan where it's really hot (not the same spot it was just in). Sear steaks for 1-2 minutes on this side until browned well. The goal of this step is to create a nice crust on the outside of your steak.
- Now, you're going to finish cooking your steak in the oven. Transfer your oven-safe pan* directly to the preheated oven. Let steaks bake for 5-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the steaks and how you like them done (medium-rare, medium, etc). Insert a digital meat thermometer into the thickest part of the steak to test for doneness near the end of the cooking time. You want to remove the steaks about 5 degrees sooner than the optimal finished temp, because they will continue to cook while they rest. So, remove the steak at the temperatures listed in Cooking Notes for the perfect doneness (which differs from the USDA recommendations below, but I trust the professionals!).
- Once the steak is at your desired internal temperature, use oven mitts to remove the hot pan from the oven. Transfer steaks to a plate and cover loosely with foil. LET REST FOR 5-10 MINUTES so it finishes cooking and the juices can redistribute throughout the meat. (This is a very important step!)
- Enjoy the perfect steak!
115-125 degrees = Rare
125-135 degrees = Medium Rare
135-145 degrees = Medium
145-155 degrees = Medium Well
155-165 degrees = Well Done
*An oven-safe pan is one that is all metal and does not have rubber or plastic on the handle. If you don't have an oven-safe pan, then preheat a metal sheet pan (with sides) in the oven. After the steak has been seared, transfer the steak using tongs to this hot sheet pan to finish in the oven. For easy clean up, you may want to cover it with foil.