Pan-searing a steak is not only the easiest way to cook it, but it also produces the most mouthwatering results. With just a few simple ingredients and a single pan, you can create a steak that rivals what you would enjoy at a high-end steakhouse. In this article, we will unravel the secrets of pan-searing and guide you through the process of cooking a perfect steak on the stovetop.
I believe that good cooking is all about mastering techniques rather than simply following recipes. And pan-searing is one of those techniques that can elevate your culinary skills to new heights. It involves cooking the surface of your food undisturbed in a piping hot pan until a crisp, golden-brown, and flavorful crust forms. Not only does pan-searing build flavor and texture, but it also prevents sticking and gives your steak a restaurant-quality appearance. It’s no wonder that pan-searing is hands-down the best way to cook a steak, and it works wonders with other proteins like salmon and scallops too.
What You’ll Need to Cook Steak on the Stovetop
Before we delve into the cooking process, let’s talk about the essentials. When it comes to beef, the best cuts for pan-searing are boneless, quick-cooking ones that are between one and one-and-a-half inches thick. Think NY Strip, rib eye, or filet mignon. For larger or slow-cooking cuts, such as beef tenderloin with red wine sauce or beef stew with carrots and potatoes, pan-searing is usually the first step before finishing the cooking in the oven.
How to Cook Steak on the Stovetop
Now that you have your steak ready, let’s dive into the cooking process.
- Begin by patting the steak dry with paper towels. This step is crucial as any moisture on the surface of the steak needs to evaporate before it can brown.
- Generously season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper. The seasoning will stick to the surface and help create a delicious crust.
- Turn on your exhaust fan and heat a heavy pan over medium-high heat until it’s VERY hot. Stainless steel or cast-iron pans are the best choices as they can withstand high temperatures.
- Add oil to the hot pan. You’ll know it’s ready when it begins to shimmer and move fluidly around the pan.
- Carefully place the steak in the pan, releasing it away from you to avoid oil splatters. It should sizzle upon contact. Make sure the pan is large enough that the steak isn’t tightly packed, as this could cause the temperature to drop and the steak to steam instead of sear.
- Leave the steak alone! Resist the temptation to peek, fiddle, or flip repeatedly. Let the steaks cook undisturbed for a few minutes to develop a beautiful brown crust. Don’t worry about sticking; the steaks will release easily when they are ready to flip.
- Once the bottom is a deep-brown color and the steaks release easily, flip them using tongs or a spatula. This usually takes about 3 minutes.
- Continue to cook the steaks for an additional 3 to 4 minutes on the second side for a rare to medium-rare doneness.
During the last minute of cooking, you can take your steak to the next level of deliciousness by adding 1 tablespoon of butter and a few sprigs of fresh thyme to the pan.
If you plan to serve the steaks unsliced, transfer them to plates and serve immediately while hot. However, if you prefer to slice the steaks, transfer them to a cutting board and let them rest, covered with aluminum foil, for 5 to 10 minutes. This resting period allows the juices to redistribute from the outside of the steaks. Slicing them too soon would result in the juices pouring out, resulting in a less juicy steak.
And voila! You have successfully cooked a delicious steak on your stovetop using the pan-searing technique. Enjoy your masterpiece with your favorite sides or sauces for a complete dining experience.
Cooking the perfect steak doesn’t always require complicated recipes. By mastering the art of pan-searing, you can achieve impressive results with minimal effort. Remember to choose the right cuts, season generously, and let the steak develop a mouthwatering crust. With these simple steps, you can create a steak that will rival the ones served in renowned steakhouses. So, gather your ingredients, heat up that pan, and elevate your cooking skills to new heights!
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