How to Cook Steak on the Stove?

Cook A Steak – Cooking a perfectly seared steak on the stove is a skill that every home chef should master. Some may argue that grilling or broiling steaks is the superior method, pan-searing on the stovetop allows for precise control over the cooking process. Let’s find out how to cook steak on the stove.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the art of stovetop steak cooking, from selecting the right cut and pan to mastering the techniques that will elevate your steak game.

Choosing the Right Cut

The first step in cooking a delicious steak on the stove is selecting the right cut. While there are numerous options available, some cuts are better suited for pan-searing than others. Here are a few popular choices:

Ribeye

The ribeye is a favorite among steak enthusiasts for its rich, beefy flavor and generous marbling. This marbling, or the distribution of fat within the muscle, ensures that the steak remains juicy and tender during the cooking process. When pan-searing, opt for a thick, well-marbled ribeye steak with a layer of fat around the edges for maximum flavor.

Filet Mignon

Filet mignon, also known as the tenderloin, is a lean and incredibly tender cut of beef. While it may not pack the same punch of flavor as a ribeye, its buttery texture and delicate taste make it a popular choice for pan-searing. Opt for a thick filet mignon steak for the best results.

New York Strip

The New York strip, also known as the strip steak, is a versatile cut that strikes a balance between tenderness and flavor. Its robust, beefy taste and moderate marbling make it a fantastic option for pan-searing. Look for a thick cut with a nice cap of fat on one side for added richness.

Flank Steak

While not as popular as the previous cuts for pan-searing, the flank steak can be a delicious and budget-friendly option. This lean cut benefits from a quick sear to achieve a nice crust while retaining its juiciness. It’s important to slice the flank steak against the grain to ensure tenderness.

Once you’ve selected your desired cut, it’s time to move on to the next step: preparing your steak for cooking.

Preparing the Steak

preparing the steak

Before you even think about how to cook steak on the stove, there are a few crucial steps to ensure your steak is properly prepared for a perfect sear.

Patting the Steak Dry

Moisture is the enemy of a good sear, so it’s essential to pat your steak dry with paper towels before cooking. Any excess moisture on the surface of the steak will prevent proper browning and caramelization, leading to a lackluster crust.

Bringing the Steak to Room Temperature

It’s a common mistake to cook a steak straight from the refrigerator, but this can result in an unevenly cooked interior. Instead, allow your steak to come to room temperature by letting it sit on the counter for 30 minutes to an hour before cooking. This step ensures that the steak cooks more evenly from edge to edge.

Seasoning

While some may argue that a good steak needs little more than salt and pepper, seasoning plays a crucial role in enhancing the flavor of your steak.

Kosher salt or coarse sea salt is preferable, as it adheres better to the surface of the meat and creates a crunchier crust during searing. Generously season your steak with salt and freshly ground black pepper just before cooking, ensuring that the seasoning is evenly distributed across the entire surface.

Choosing the Right Pan

Cooking Process

The pan you choose can make or break your steak-searing experience. For the best results, opt for a heavy-duty pan that can withstand high heat and distribute it evenly across the surface. Here are some popular options:

Cast Iron Skillet

A well-seasoned cast iron skillet is the gold standard for pan-searing steaks. Its excellent heat retention and naturally non-stick surface make it ideal for achieving a perfect sear. Additionally, cast iron pans can be preheated to scorching temperatures, ensuring that the steak gets an instant sear as soon as it hits the pan.

Stainless Steel Pan

Stainless steel pans are another excellent choice for pan-searing steaks. Look for a thick, high-quality pan that can withstand high heat without warping or discoloring. While not quite as non-stick as cast iron, a well-preheated stainless steel pan can still deliver a beautiful sear.

Carbon Steel Pan

Carbon steel pans are a hybrid between cast iron and stainless steel, combining the heat retention of cast iron with the sleek appearance of stainless steel. These pans can achieve a fantastic sear and develop a natural non-stick surface over time with proper seasoning and care.

No matter which pan you choose, make sure it’s oven-safe if you plan on transferring it to the oven for finishing the cooking process.

The Cooking Process

Cooking Process

Now that you’ve selected your cut, prepared your steak, and chosen your pan, it’s time to look into how to cook steak on the stove. Here’s a step-by-step guide to achieving a perfectly cooked steak on the stove:

Preheating the Pan

Preheating your pan is crucial for achieving a great sear. Place your pan over high heat and allow it to get ripping hot before adding any oil or the steak. You’ll know the pan is ready when a droplet of water sizzles and evaporates instantly upon contact with the surface.

Adding Oil or Fat

Once your pan is preheated, add a small amount of high-heat oil or fat to the pan. Avocado oil, grapeseed oil, or clarified butter (ghee) are all excellent options that can withstand the high temperatures required for searing. Swirl the oil or fat around to evenly coat the bottom of the pan.

Searing the Steak

Carefully place your seasoned steak in the hot pan, using tongs or a spatula to avoid splashing hot oil. You should hear an immediate sizzle as the steak hits the pan. Allow the steak to sear undisturbed for 2-3 minutes, or until a deep golden-brown crust has formed on the bottom.

Flipping and Basting

Using tongs, flip the steak over and sear the other side for another 2-3 minutes. If your pan has a good amount of fat rendered from the steak, you can tilt the pan and use a spoon to baste the steak with the hot fat, further enhancing the crust and flavor.

Checking for Doneness

The exact cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of your steak and your desired level of doneness. Use an instant-read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the steak. Here are the recommended temperatures for different levels of doneness:

  • Rare: 120-125°F (49-52°C)
  • Medium-rare: 130-135°F (54-57°C)
  • Medium: 140-145°F (60-63°C)
  • Medium-well: 150-155°F (66-68°C)
  • Well-done: 160°F (71°C) and above

Keep in mind that the temperature will continue to rise slightly after removing the steak from the heat, so aim for about 5°F (3°C) below your desired doneness temperature.

Resting the Steak

After achieving your desired level of doneness, transfer the steak to a cutting board or plate and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. This resting period allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a juicier and more flavorful steak.

Finishing Touches

Once rested, you can add a final touch of flavor by topping your steak with a compound butter, such as garlic-herb or blue cheese butter. Simply place a dollop of the flavored butter on top of the steak and let it melt, basting the steak with the melted butter for an extra burst of flavor.

Advanced Techniques

While the basic stovetop steak cooking method described above will yield delicious results, there are a few advanced techniques that can take your steak game to the next level:

Reverse Searing

Reverse searing is a technique that involves slowly cooking the steak in the oven until it’s slightly undercooked, then searing it on the stovetop to achieve a perfect crust. This method ensures an evenly cooked interior while still allowing for a beautiful sear on the outside.

To reverse sear, preheat your oven to 275°F (135°C). Place the steaks on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and cook until they reach an internal temperature of 10-15°F (6-8°C) below your desired doneness. This low-and-slow cooking process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the thickness of your steaks.

Once the steaks have reached the desired internal temperature, remove them from the oven and let them rest for 10 minutes. During this time, preheat your cast iron skillet or other oven-safe pan over high heat until it’s scorching hot.

Add a small amount of oil or fat to the pan, then carefully place the steaks in the pan and sear for 1-2 minutes per side, or until a deep, caramelized crust has formed. The steaks should only need a brief sear on each side since they’re already mostly cooked through.

The reverse searing method not only ensures a perfectly even cook throughout the steak, but it also allows you to achieve a deep, flavorful crust without overcooking the interior.

Basting with Aromatics

Basting your steak with aromatic ingredients like garlic, herbs, or even butter can add an extra layer of flavor to your stovetop steak. As the steak sears, tilt the pan and use a spoon to scoop up the hot fat and drizzle it over the top of the steak, basting it continuously.

For an extra flavor boost, you can add crushed garlic cloves, fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary, or even a few tablespoons of butter to the hot pan before basting. The heat will infuse the fat with these aromatic elements, allowing you to baste the steak with their flavors.

Finishing in the Oven

While some steaks can be cooked entirely on the stovetop, thicker cuts may benefit from finishing in the oven after an initial sear. This technique allows you to achieve a perfect sear on the outside while ensuring that the interior is cooked to your desired doneness.

After searing your steak on both sides in a hot pan, transfer the entire pan (if oven-safe) or the steak itself to a preheated 400°F (205°C) oven. Cook the steak until it reaches your desired internal temperature, using a meat thermometer to monitor its progress.

Once the steak has reached the desired doneness, remove it from the oven and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Steak Doneness and Carryover Cooking

It’s essential to understand the concept of carryover cooking when cooking steaks on the stovetop. Carryover cooking refers to the continued cooking that occurs after the steak has been removed from the heat source. The internal temperature of the steak will continue to rise by several degrees as the residual heat from the exterior travels inward.

To account for carryover cooking, you should remove your steak from the heat source when it’s about 5°F (3°C) below your desired doneness temperature. For example, if you’re aiming for a medium-rare steak at 130-135°F (54-57°C), remove it from the heat when it reaches 125-130°F (52-54°C).

Letting the steak rest for 5-10 minutes after cooking will also contribute to carryover cooking, so be sure to factor that into your calculations as well.

Pairing Sauces and Sides

While a perfectly cooked steak can certainly stand on its own, pairing it with the right sauces and sides can elevate the dining experience to new heights. Here are some delicious options to consider:

Sauces

  • Chimichurri: This vibrant green sauce made with parsley, garlic, olive oil, and red wine vinegar adds a bright, herbaceous flavor to your steak.
  • Béarnaise: Rich and creamy, this classic French sauce made with egg yolks, butter, and herbs is the perfect accompaniment to a perfectly seared steak.
  • Peppercorn Sauce: A classic steak sauce made with brandy, cream, and plenty of cracked black peppercorns, adding a luxurious and peppery kick to your steak.
  • Red Wine Reduction: Reduce a full-bodied red wine with beef stock, butter, and aromatics for a deeply flavored sauce that complements the richness of your steak.

Sides

  • Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Creamy, garlicky mashed potatoes are a classic pairing for steak, providing a comforting and indulgent accompaniment.
  • Sautéed Mushrooms: Meaty mushrooms sautéed in butter and garlic make a delicious and earthy side dish for your steak.
  • Grilled Asparagus: Fresh, crisp asparagus spears grilled with a touch of olive oil and salt provide a lighter, refreshing contrast to the richness of the steak.
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts: Roasted until crispy and tossed with bacon or pancetta, Brussels sprouts add a savory and slightly bitter note to balance the steak’s flavors.

Remember, cooking a perfect steak on the stove is not just about following a recipe, but also about understanding the techniques and principles behind the process. With practice and patience, you’ll soon be able to master the art of stovetop steak cooking, creating mouthwatering, restaurant-quality steaks in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Tips and Tricks for Perfect Stovetop Steaks

Even with the proper techniques and methods of how to cook steak on the stove, there are a few additional tips and tricks that can help ensure your stovetop steaks turn out perfectly every time:

Use a Meat Thermometer

Investing in a reliable instant-read meat thermometer is one of the best tools you can have for cooking steaks on the stove. Trying to gauge doneness by touch or visual cues alone can be challenging, especially for inexperienced cooks. A meat thermometer takes the guesswork out of the equation, allowing you to monitor the internal temperature of your steak precisely and remove it from the heat at the perfect moment.

Let Steaks Rest After Salting

When seasoning your steaks with salt, it’s best to let them rest for about 30 minutes before cooking. This allows the salt to penetrate the meat and dissolve on the surface, creating a better seasoned crust during searing. It also gives the salt time to draw out some moisture from the steak, further enhancing the sear.

Use a Combination of Oils

For the best searing results, consider using a combination of oils with different smoke points. Start with an oil with a high smoke point, like avocado or grapeseed oil, to preheat the pan and create the initial sear. Then, once the steak is in the pan, you can add a small knob of butter or a drizzle of olive oil, which have lower smoke points but impart incredible flavor and richness to the steak.

Dry Brine for Extra Flavor

Dry brining is a simple technique that can significantly enhance the flavor of your steaks. To dry brine, generously season your steaks with salt and let them sit uncovered on a wire rack in the refrigerator for at least a few hours, or up to 24 hours. The salt will draw out moisture from the steaks, which is then reabsorbed along with the salt, resulting in a deeper, more concentrated flavor throughout the meat.

Baste with Herbs and Aromatics

In addition to basting your steaks with the rendered fat and melted butter, you can also add fresh herbs, garlic, or other aromatics to the pan for extra flavor. Whole sprigs of thyme, rosemary, or sage, or even crushed garlic cloves, can infuse the basting fat with their aromas and flavors, further enhancing the taste of your steak.

Experiment with Different Seasoning Blends

While a simple seasoning of salt and pepper is classic, don’t be afraid to experiment with different seasoning blends to add unique flavors to your steaks. A blend of smoked paprika, cumin, and garlic powder can add a smoky, earthy note, while a blend of dried herbs like thyme, rosemary, and oregano can impart a fresh, herbaceous quality. The possibilities are endless, so feel free to get creative and find your favorite flavor combinations.

Master the Cross-Hatch Sear

For an extra impressive presentation and added flavor, try mastering the cross-hatch sear technique. After searing one side of your steak, rotate it 90 degrees and sear it again, creating a beautiful crosshatch pattern of grill marks. Repeat this process on the other side of the steak. This technique not only looks visually stunning but also maximizes the surface area for developing a flavorful crust.

Let Steaks Rest Properly

Allowing your steaks to rest properly after cooking is crucial for ensuring juicy, tender results. As mentioned earlier, resting your steaks for 5-10 minutes before slicing allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.

However, it’s important not to let them rest for too long, as the steaks can continue cooking and potentially overcook during the resting period. Aim for a sweet spot of around 5-7 minutes for optimal results.

By following these tips and tricks, in addition to the techniques outlined earlier in the article, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of cooking delicious, restaurant-quality steaks on your stovetop.

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Will Frost

Will Frost

When Will is not behind the grill at one of his two Texas Steakhouses, He can be found exploring new recipes, researching the latest grilling gadgets, or sharing his culinary adventures on social media. Join Will Frost on CookAsteak.com as he embarks on a flavorful journey, unlocking the secrets to mastering outdoor cooking and creating unforgettable meals that bring people together.


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