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Cooking steak (again).

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I bought some ny strip steaks (1" thick; about 3 / 4 lb each) and am going to try cooking them on the stove.

Here's the steps I'll try - I'm interested in suggestions / corrections.

I'll start with a tablespoon of oil (olive oil) in a 10" stainless steel fry pan. I'll get the pan to almost the smoke point and then put in one of the steaks.

At that point I'll bring the heat down to medium. I'll let the steak cook for a couple of minutes, to sear. Then I'll flip the steak over (using tongs) and cook teh other side (again, at medium) for a couple of minutes to sear.

Here's where I'm not sure what to do. I was told to put the steak on a dish and make a small cut in teh middle to see if it is done in the middle (using a thermometer, to see if it is 165 degrees).

If the steak is not done in the middle, then I should put it in a fry pan that can go in the oven and cook it uncovered at 400 degrees.

However, the butcher where I bought the meat said it might cook completely on the stove top. My question is whether it would cook from the 2 minutes of searing per side that I would do initially, or whether I need to cook it longer on medium AFTER I sear both sides.

post #2 of 18
Thread Starter 
After 2 or 3 minutes of searing the steak in the fry pan I took it out of the pan to examine it.

The sides were not cooked, so I took that as a sign (whether rightly or wrongly) that the middle may also not be cooked.

I cut into the middle and saw that it was not cooked so I'm putting it in the oven at a bake temp of 400, in the stainless steel fry pan uncovered to finish cooking. (Not sure how long this next step is supposed to take.)
post #3 of 18
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post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions. I finished the steak in the oven - I don't enve know how long it was in there - less than 10 minutes - and I just finished eating it. It was good, and tender. Not a whole lot of flavor. I had rubbed salt and pepper and oil on the steak before putting it in the fry pan but maybe it needs more seasoning.

Let me ask this - am I risking overcooking the steak by trying to cook it completely on the stovetop? Is the oven a safer way to get the middle cooked and not risk overcooking (and making the middle tough)?
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
That's right. I remember the discussion about the bake oven temperature - i think BDL favored a higher temp like 400 degrees - but I forget if that was to finish off the steak.

Is olive oil okay to rub on the steak beforehand and to also use in the fry pan?

If 275 degrees in the oven makes it more goof-proof that would be appealing to me. As long as I'm not risking not killing off bacteria.
post #6 of 18
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post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks. I think, at least for the time being, I'll use the method of finishing the steak in the oven. I probably won't cook 400 steaks in two or three years.

Thanks also for the tip on the salt; I didn't realize the effect; I had salted the meat about 5 minute before I put the steak in the pan.

A chef who teaches community cooking classes I've been taking also told me that if i buy top surloin steaks instead of ny strips I'll save a lot of money. He said the top surloin is a little tougher cut. Would I need to alter anything to account for a tougher cut of meat?
post #8 of 18

1 Dozen Steps to Good Steak.

1. DO remove steak from oven, season, set on counter to temper, 15 minutes;

2. DO turn burner to medium hot. DO set a dry pan on it to preheat. After the pan is hot;

3. DO take the pan off the burner and DO add 1 - 2 tsp of olive oil. DO NOT Use 2 tbs, you are searing not frying. DO Swirl the pan. If the oil smokes or runs freely and coats the pan without any gaps, the pan is hot enough; and if not, not. In either case;

4. DO return the pan to burner. If the pan was hot enough, add the steak IMMEDIATELY. If not, allow the oil to heat for a few seconds more, and then add the steak;

5. DO cook the steak for exactly two minutes (use a timer if you have to), and shake the pan so the steak comes loose. DO NOT pry it off the pan with your tongs or a spatula. When the steak comes loose, turn it;

6. DO cook the second side for exactly two minutes;

7. DO reduce the burner heat to medium and cook for exactly 90 seconds more;

8. DO shake the pan to loosen the steak. DO turn the steak, cook for 60 seconds more and DO "press test" it for doneness, OR DO use a meat thermometer. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES AND I REALLY MEANT THIS DAMMIT CUT INTO THE STEAK. DO NOT MAKE ME COME THROUGH THIS COMPUTER SCREEN AND SMACK YOU UPSIDE YOUR HEAD WHICH I WILL DO IN A NEW YORK MINUTE;

9. DO finish cooking the steak at medium heat on the burner. 1" is really pushing it for an oven finish. 135-140 is a heartland medium-rare. 130-135 is a coastal medium-rare;

10. DO remember what I said about the "press test," "When the steak pushes back, it's medium rare (133F on the nose for a 1");

11. DO remove the steak and allow it to rest for at least five minutes before cutting into it. The purpose of the rest is to allow the temperatures and liquids to equilibrate through the meat while the proteins denature. Capesce?

12. DO make a deglaze the pan while the steak is resting. DO NOT waste the fond.
post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the very organized set of steps. A couple questions about your suggestions.

1. Before I put the steak in the fry pan, should I let it warm up to room temperature first?

2. You have very specific cook times for the searing portion of the cooking. Would these times change if I was searing a different cut of meat, or if the cut of meat was a different thickness?

3. What are the advantages / disadvantages of finishing the cooking on the burner vs. finishing the cooking in the oven? Do I need to be more careful about not overcooking and drying out the steak by finishing on the burner? That is, are my chances of screwing it up (meaning overcooking and / or making the meat tough and / or dry) increased by using the burner to finish?

Thanks again!

P.S.: I admire your passion and your efforts to help me!:lips:
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
9. DO finish cooking the steak at medium heat on the burner. 1" is really pushing it for an oven finish. 135-140 is a heartland medium-rare. 130-135 is a coastal medium-rare;

How do I tell if I want the steak medium-well?
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
12. DO make a deglaze the pan while the steak is resting. DO NOT waste the fond.

Do you have any suggestions for an basic (i.e., easy) deglazing / fond making?
post #12 of 18

A. Letting the Steak Temper (Warm before Cooking): It will cook more quickly and more evenly if you let it temper first. Those are good things, so the answer is yes. Furthermore, a 1" steak doesn't take long to temper enough. 15 or 20 minutes outside of the refrigerator is enough.

While you wait, I suggest putting 1 tbs each of worcestershire and red wine in a pan, and marinating the steak in it. This particular marinade will turn into a syrup as it mixes with the meat's juices (meat will give off some as it warms up). Then pour off the extra marinade and season the meat as usual.

B. Should Recommended Times and Temperatures Change Depending on Thickness? Yes. The time at medium high I gave you is the minimum time and maximum temperature required to properly sear beef for a typical home cook. The technical (technique, remember) rationale is that a 1" steak is almost as thick as can be easily cooked in a pan without resorting to an oven finish.

If you were trying to cook a thicker steak, you'd either sear and pop it into the oven, or cook the whole thing at a lower temperature -- say medium. 1-1/4" is really the practical limit for stove-top cooking. Not that thicker can't be done, but there are compromises in texture.

Note that the technique I gave you as two temperatures -- one to establish the sear, and the other to finish cooking the steak without toughening up the surface too much.

A thinner steak, say 3/4" or less, would be cooked entirely at the sear temperature. For most stoves, that's medium high.

C. Differences Between Pan and Oven Finish: Both are methods which allow you to control the surface texture (aka crust or bark) on the meat. You use an oven finish to prevent a long cooking time from making the crust too tough. If your cooking time is short enough, it's not necessary.

I asked you to finish cooking the steak on medium, and to turn it a third time, so you have a chance of feeling the meat's degree of doneness instead of just feeling the surface toughen up. The best way to test for doneness is to purchase an inexpensive "instant read," shirt-pocket type thermometer rather than relying on touch. They're cheap. Get two.

If you cut into a hot steak -- even on your plate, the juices will run onto the plate rather than staying with the meat. This is the biggest reason your steaks are sometimes tasteless. Try and keep your cutting and puncturing to the absolute minimum necessary.

D. Medium-Well: 145F, followed by a 7 minute rest is right on the border of between medium and medium-well by most standards. The meat will still have some juice, tenderness and present only a very slightly pink appearance. If you take a steak beyond this temperature it will begin to toughen and dry significantly. That said, you should cook your steak however you like it.

E. Deglazing: The fond is already in the pan when you remove the steak. While the steak is resting, return the pan to a medium high flame; pour a couple of ounces of liquid in it; scrape up the fond and mix it into the liquid; allow the to reduce by about half and use it as a sauce for the meat.

For your first couple of times, I suggest using an "off-dry" wine like DRY (NOT sweet) Marsala, (inexpensive) Madeira, or an Amontillado (not a cream) sherry. If you can't find one of these, try using red wine with a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce.

Later you can get fancy and add other seasonings, shallots, mustard, cream, and liquors to flambe. I've got a recipe running around ChefTalk that's got a bunch of that stuff in it. RPMcMurphy took pictures when he made it -- so there's a sort of pictorial tutorial to go with it.

I know you can handle it, but also know you like to work in "baby steps," and fully understand every little part before moving forward. So, I'm suggesting starting simple and moving on later. Besides, you asked.

post #13 of 18
About steak flavor

The characteristics of cattle that make for a good steak are basically feed, exercise and fat.

Feed influences flavor, grass-fed tending to produce more complex flavor at higher cost.

Exercise produces flavor but makes meat tough. Steaks come from parts of the cow that don't really get exercised by the daily activities of the cow. The sirloin is tougher because that muscle gets more exercise than the NY strip.

Fat is a balance of feed, exercise and breed. Free roaming cattle are usually leaner and tougher. Feed lot cattle are usually fatter and more tender. Like most modern production animals, the cow has been bred for output. Be that milk production, cream production, or leanness. These usually work against flavor too. Similar to pigs, modern cows tend not have the fat marbled in the meat, but usually banding around the edges of the muscle. This hurts tenderness and flavor.

The FDA got involved in this fat issue too. They changed how steak is graded making prime beef less fatty. While this was done for health purposes, this re-grading of prime beef hurt the quality of prime beef available to the average consumer. Most good restaurants still buy the fattier beef for the "prime" cuts. On my income, I usually buy Choice anyway, but you want to examine how the fat is placed in the steaks you consider buying for best flavor and texture.

I think most of the rest of the cow has more flavor than any of the steak cuts. I prefer roasts to steaks because they have more flavor and can be cooked tender. To me the two most flavorful cuts of steak are rib-eye (fatty) and flank (exercised). Skirt would probably make the list if I ever saw a skirt steak in my stores. Flank needs to be cooked rare and cut thinly across the grain or it becomes an unpleasant chew fest.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Are there certain spices and herbs that typically go well with steak, in addition to salt and pepper?
post #15 of 18
garlic, salt and pepper are my primary steak seasonings.

mushrooms and soy sauce and balsamic vinegar are also good. If you do a wet marination/ seasoning, blot the steak dry before cooking, then season with your dry ingredients. As you're cooking for a diet restriction, you might be better served with tamari, a wheatless (I think) soy sauce or Bragg's Liquid Aminos which you'll find in the health food aisle of your grocer.

Mushrooms won't really add anything in the marinade but are often served cooked along with steak. However, you can buy dried mushrooms and turn them to powder in a food processor or blender. They're much cheaper at an Asian grocer than in your corner grocer. This powder is good on steaks in light quantities but also in boosting soup and sauce flavor.

If you can't grind your own dried mushroom powder, you can order some from Welcome to the Spices Etc. web site! Here you'll find both common and unusual herbs, spices, seasonings and other quality cooking ingredients you'll come to expect from Spices Etc.

Another good spice blend for steak and lots of other things is dry adobo. It's more of a seaoned salt really. You can usually buy this in the Mexican aisle of your grocer. Look for the Goya brand. There are a number of varieties, I prefer the most basic (no pepper, cumin, lemon or sour orange) as it's the most versatile. Then I add pepper or whatever else I want directly to what I'm seasoning and in the amounts I want.

It's also easy to make yourself. This recipe is from Daisy Cooks! with Daisy Martinez. I'd link you directly to the site but it's being reported as hacked and downloading malicious software. When I make it, I use only half the salt which is more in keeping with the Goya adobo and none of the pepper. Daisy has a self admitted very heavy hand with salt.

Makes 1 cup
Adobo Seasoning

6 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons onion powder
3 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons ground black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons ground oregano
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #16 of 18

Nice recipes... :roll:
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
9. DO finish cooking the steak at medium heat on the burner. 1" is really pushing it for an oven finish. 135-140 is a heartland medium-rare. 130-135 is a coastal medium-rare;

BDL -How much longer should it take to cook at medium to finish the steak? Maybe up to 4 - 7 minutes per side?

Also, when you say "1 inch is really pushing it for an oven finish" do you mean that a steak that is 1" thick or more should be finished in the oven?

post #18 of 18
I'd say an additional 4 minutes a side, sounds pretty close to being right for medium-well, but 7 minutes a side sounds like way too much -- but it depends on the heat you and your stove dial agree on as "medium." Remember, these times are counted after the meat is already seared -- so when you're adding up the time, don't forget the sear time.

1" is borders on being too thin to finish in the oven; and is probably better left out entirely. The oven is a way of getting the meat to finish more evenly and with less stress on the surface than a pan -- the difference between convection and contact conduction heat transference. However a 1" steak is thin enough to go all the way in the pan without getting crusty or tough on the outside.

The thought behind cooking beefsteak is generally to sear it, then cook it. With a thin enough steak, you can do both at the same time. 1" is just that little bit too thick. My rule is, anythying under 3/4" automatically finishes in the pan; while anything over 1-1/4" finishes in the oven. 1", right in between, "depends." Given that you're using a tender cut of meat and you haven't indicated you have any issues about delaying the timing to cook other things or have a lot of steaks going at the same time -- you're probably better in the pan.

Nov -- cooking is all about looking and touching and smelling. You can't depend on a stop watch to do it for you. That doesn't mean technologhy isn't your friend. An instant read, pocket thermometer is a wonderful tool for someone like you who wants the reassurance and is just developing the experience. After awhile you probably wont' need it for steaks, but that doesn't mean you'll throw it out. You can get good dial models for around $7, and digital read outs for around $15.

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