Using our suggestion box, one of our friends Laura asked a few questions about preparing a nice steak and how to avoid overcooked, bland meat. So to help make the perfect steak, I will share some chef tricks. The recipe itself is very simple; this one is really all about technique.
When cooking a nice steak, there are two methods I have heard. In restaurants, they sear the outside over very high heat, and then finish cooking it to the desired doneness in the oven. I greatly prefer this method; it is super simple and always works. The other method is to cook the steak in the oven first and then sear the outside. It works well, but I think this order is a bit more finicky; if you’re not very careful about the time in the oven, the steak can get overcooked when you move it to the pan to sear it. Whatever you do, I don’t recommend cooking a steak in a pan only, without cooking it in the oven, as it rarely goes well unless the steak is very thin. Because of the high heat, the steak will turn out dry and tough.
When you have put the steak into the oven and then need to test the doneness, there are a million methods. My favorite is to press the center of the steak. If it feels like your cheek, it is very rare. When it feels like the side of your nose, it is medium. When it feels like the tip of your nose, it is well done. It takes a little practice, but after a while you can tell the doneness of a steak in one second flat. If you prefer a more scientific method, you can use an instant-read thermometer. Stick the thermometer in the thickest part of the steak and check for 145 for medium-rare, 155 for medium, 165 for medium-well, and 170 for well-done.
Now, a little advice for marinades. If you have a good steak, they are totally unnecessary. But, if you want to use one, don’t add salt to the marinade itself, as the meat will absorb all of the salt but none of the other flavor. Add the salt to the meat after marinating for a much better balance of flavors. I also recommend adding something acidic (such as balsamic vinegar) to a marinade to help tenderize the meat and something sweet (such as grape juice) to help the steak caramelize. Lastly, after you marinate, always pat the steaks dry or they will just stew instead of caramelizing.
This recipe makes enough for two servings.
1 lb rib-eye or New York steak (preferably thick cut)
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ c grape juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp dried or 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary
1 tsp salt and pepper
1) Mix the vinegar, grape juice, garlic and rosemary in a large Ziploc bag.
2) Add the steak, seal, and marinate for about 1 hour.
3) While the steak is marinating, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
4) Remove the steak from the marinade and pat dry.
5) Sprinkle both sides of the steak with salt and pepper.
6) Heat some oil in a pan until incredibly hot (as hot as you can get it without burning the oil; the oil should be shiny and should move on its own).
7) Put the steak in the hot pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until well caramelized. Don’t play with the steak too much.
8) Flip the steak and cook on the other side for 3-4 minutes until also caramelized.
9) If your pan is oven-safe, place the pan directly into the oven. If not, place the steak on a foil-lined baking dish and put it into the oven.
10) Bake until the desired doneness, about 5-10 minutes depending on doneness and how thick the steak is.
11) Let sit for 5 minutes covered before serving or it will dry out when you cut into it.
12) Serve and Enjoy.