Perfect Pan-Seared Steak – Confession time…In the past, I always left cooking steak to my husband Jack. I have no problems cooking other kinds of meat, but steaks…I’ve never been happy with how they came out when I cooked them. Until now…
With today’s recipe, cooking the Perfect Pan-Seared steak is so easy, and it comes out so deliciously-good, you’ll become an expert at it too! It’s cooked entirely in one pan – no need to heat up the oven.
In our opinion, rib-eye steaks are the best because they are both tender and flavorful. Our recipe today works for both bone-in and boneless rib-eye steaks.
Any great recipe depends on great ingredients. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you select the perfect steak for cooking at the supermarket or your local butcher.
Marbling – This term refers to the tiny spider veins of fat that run through the meat. The more marbling your steak has, the more tender and flavorful your steak will be.
In general, you should avoid cuts that have large pieces of fat on the outside, or gristle running through the meat as well. Note that a rib-eye steak – by nature of the cut of beef – will have a line of fat running through the steak. (That’s perfectly fine.)
Grades – Beef packages are often labeled with ‘grades’ and the grade reflects the amount of marbling. From lowest to highest, you’ll see beef ranking as Select, Choice, and Prime.
Choice grade beef is the most widely available at supermarkets – and it’s a perfectly acceptable option when you want a nice steak at a reasonable price.
Having said that, if your budget allows, choose a hand-cut Prime steak, and/or look for Certified Angus Beef. The flavor will be even more delicious!
Cut – The cut of beef you choose will also impact the tenderness and flavor of your cooked steak.
As you can tell, we are big fans of rib-eye steaks. It comes from the upper rib primal section of the steer, falling between the shoulder and the loin. It’s well-marbled with flavorful fat, plus it comes from one of the more tender parts of the cow. It’s ideally suited for fast-cooking, high-heat methods such as our pan-seared steak recipe today.
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Thickness – We recommend a steak that is at least 1 – 1½ inches thick. This thickness allows you to get a nice sear on the outside, while still retaining the ability to cook the inside to your preferred level of doneness. (Note that the recipe below is written for this thickness; if you buy a thicker cut, the cooking time will be longer. If you buy a thinner cut, the cooking time will be less and you will run the risk of overcooking the steak.)
- 2 bone-in ribeye steaks, at least 1 1/2 inches thick, about 1 pound (450g) each (see note)
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons (30g) butter
- A few thyme sprigs and sliced shallots (optional)
Pat steaks dry with paper towels. Season liberally with salt. Allow to rest at room temperature for at least 40 minutes and up to 2 hours. Alternatively, place on a plate or on a rack over a baking sheet in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from refrigerator at least 40 minutes before cooking.
- In a large stainless-steel or cast iron skillet, heat oil over high heat until heavily smoking. Season steaks with pepper, add to pan, and cook, flipping frequently with tongs until well browned on all sides (including edges, which you can sear by holding steaks sideways with tongs) and the internal temperature has reached 110°F (43°C) for rare or 130°F (54°C) for medium (steak will continue to cook for a bit afterward), 6 to 12 minutes depending on thickness.
- Add butter and optional aromatics to pan and continue to cook, flipping often, for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from pan and let rest in a warm place for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Large stainless steel skillet or cast iron skillet, instant-read thermometer, wire rack and rimmed baking sheet (optional)
An equivalent weight of porterhouse, T-bone, tenderloin, or strip steak can be used in place of ribeye steak. Try to get steaks at least one and a half inches thick. It’s better to cook a bigger steak and portion it after cooking than to try to cook thinner steaks.