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Tuesday, January 17

Cooking the Perfect Steak

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We rarely eat red meat, so when we do, we make sure it is high-quality and delicious. My favorite cut is filet mignon…when cooked correctly, it is just so darn tender and tasty. When Nate’s mom was here last November, she made us a fantastic dinner, which included some filet. While we were debating about how to cook our beautiful hunks of meat, she mentioned that she and my father-in-law had used a technique from America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illustrated that worked beautifully. We dug around the Internet, found the recipe and…

Sorry for the not-so-pretty photos. Truth is I wanted to eat the steak more than I wanted to photograph it! ;)

…PEOPLE. This is the perfect way to cook steak. Seriously. Perfect. It comes out medium-rare and is so juicy and tender. For those of you scared of red/pink in your meat, please believe me when I tell you medium-rare is the way to eat your steak. REALLY. The flavor and texture are so much better than medium or well-done, but it’s still hot and cooked through just enough. The first time I ate a medium-rare steak was at Donovan’s Steak House and I have never eaten it another way since. It’s the only way to go!

So, back to the Cook’s Illustrated technique…you salt and pepper the steak and then bake it in the oven BEFORE searing it on the stove. The reasoning is that your steak will cook evenly throughout and that the final sear will give the steak a nice, caramelized crust. We found another blogger who had used this recipe and he said that it’s been consistent every time. I love reliable recipes like that!

Cooking the Perfect Steak
 
Method & recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, but I’ve written it out here in my own words, so if something goes wrong blame me.
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish, Beef
Ingredients
  • 2 boneless strip steaks 1½″ – 1¾″ thick, about 1 pound each (filet mignon or ribeye may be substituted)
  • Salt & Pepper (I like to use coarse versions of both)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil (2 tablespoons for filet mignon)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F and place rack in the center of the oven.
  2. Cut steaks vertically in half so you have four 8-ounce steaks. Let rest outside of the fridge for about 15 minutes. Dry off steaks with a paper towel then pat liberally with salt and pepper. Place steaks on a wire rack on top of a rimmed cookie sheet so steaks are not resting directly on the pan. Insert an instant-read, oven-safe thermometer into one of the steaks, then put steaks in the oven until the internal temperature of the steak reaches 90 – 95 degrees for medium rare (20-25 mins) or 100 to 105 degrees for medium (25-30 mins). GO WITH MEDIUM RARE! ;)
  3. Heat oil in a heavy bottom skillet over medium-high heat on your stove. We used one of my copper-core heavy bottom frying pans – I think a cast-iron skillet would be ideal, but mine is buried in storage somewhere. When oil starts to smoke, sear the steak in the pan ~ 2 minutes per side. Sear the edges as well, ~ 1 minute per edge.
  4. Place steaks back on rack on cookie sheet, tent with foil and let rest ~ 10 minutes. Eat!

 

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37 Comments »

  1. 1
    Alison Poirier

    We need to have you over for steak. Matt’s favorite is fillet too and he cooks it perfect every time, but on the grill. Both the girls eat an adult sized portion. We just had it this weekend and man it was good!

  2. 2
    Nicole

    Yum, steak. Of course in Europe that would be way overdone :) We had them nearly crawling off the plate in an amazing restaurant in Switzerland, and the french guys said they were still too cooked. Never heard of this way – my parents would always broil them in the oven, sounds good, though.

  3. 3
    Ashton

    I’m usually disappointed on how my steaks end up, so I’m definitely going to try this. Thanks for the tip!

  4. This goes against everything I’ve ever heard about searing, but it sounds AWESOME. And I love America’s Test Kitchen. So I am definitely trying this. :-)

    • Jane Maynard

      totally goes against everything we’ve ever heard about searing is right! I read another article on their site where they seared before and after baking and weighed the steaks and there was no difference in terms of moisture loss, so they claimed the “sear first to keep the juices in” is a old wive’s tale. gotta love ATK :)

  5. 5
    Mawa

    I have a friend who has a phd in meat science (and yes she went to work for a petfood company with that degree but I digress…) She says that if people ate their steaks, and could not see them, that EVERYONE would eat their steaks rare!!! So much more flavor and tenderness. I still need medium rare but I’m thinkin she is probably right….

  6. I ususally just broil or just pan sear, this method is very interesting, must try next time I crave a steak.

  7. Oh I LOVE steak. Since we have nice weather pretty much all year, we grill all the time, but this is great for those times when….the tank runs out :) oh yes that happens even when you have two tanks trust me.

  8. This is so interesting! We don’t eat a lot of expensive red meat (we eat a lot of ground beef or roast) but when we do I’m so nervous I’m going to mess it up and waste all that money. I can’t wait to try this next time we’re in the mood for steak.

  9. Wow this is awesome! Thanks so much for posting! I pinned it on pinterest to come back to later! this is a keeper!

  10. 10
    christian

    The absolute BEST thing you can do for ANY steak is to cook it at room temperature. It’s the holy grail variable of steak cooking.

  11. 11
    Annie

    I haven’t eaten meat in years (except for that bratwurst at october fest last year :) ) and this post just makes me want to get a medium rare steak. enjoy!

  12. 12
    Hillary

    We tried this for our Valentine’s Day dinner last night … Unbelievably amazing. We’ll never go back to grilling filet mignon. (I say that like we have it all the time — ha! The one time a year it graces our plates, rather.)

    • Jane Maynard

      I am so glad you commented…because I”m glad it was amazing AND…people keep commenting and pinning saying “this is a great idea for when I can’t use the grill” but like you said, I’ll never use the grill again! this just comes out SO WELL. anyway, glad I could convert you! ;) happy valentine’s day!

  13. 13
    Emily

    Hillary posted about her success with this recipe on facebook, so I made it this weekend for a belated birthday dinner for my husband. You’re both right, the filets were a perfect medium rare with that awesome caramelized outside – I’m also fully converted and won’t go back to grilling!

  14. 14
    Nickie S.

    This totally did the trick. Even though the cut of steak was on the cheaper side, it made for a delicious dinner! Thank you!

  15. 15
    Marc

    OMG – that was totally incredible. We are people that for the past 25 years believed the only way to cook was on our gas Weber. But admittedly were never totally happy with how the filets came out. So I tried your method tonight and I have to say I was skeptical. First of all, baking and not grilling? And second, searing after cooking went against everything I had previously learned. But we followed your directions. For two 8oz. filets it took about 25 minutes to get to 91 degrees. Then I seared on both sides for two minutes each in a cast iron skillet. I wanted to use butter but instead I followed your directions and used vegetable oil. I seared the (sort of) three sides for about a minute a piece. It was absolutely the best steak I have ever, ever had! We had been considering going to Capital Grille tonight. I am so glad we decided not to as this total meal cost as much as one steak there ($45) and was so, so, so much better. You made our weekend. Of course it’s important to start with a good steak and in our area there is nothing better than Butcher Boy, but the steak alone is not enough. It took your recipe to bring it to perfection. Thank you so much!

    • Sorry – I meant to say I seared the (sort of) three edges for about a minute a piece after searing both sides for two minutes each. The crust was superb! Thanks!

    • Jane Maynard

      marc, I am SO glad you commented! I hope everyone who reads this post and is skeptical like you were will read your comment. I was skeptical myself when my MIL first told me this technique, but you’re right, it’s seriously PERFECT. anyway, your comment made me smile and I’m so glad it worked well for you, too! thank you!

  16. 16
    Kristen

    I am making this recipe for the third time. I avoided steak in the past because I could never cook it properly, but this recipe is the way to go! Love it!

  17. 17
    Hillary

    I have to comment on this again. As Kristen above, we just made this for the third time. It is SO amazing. I had no idea steak could be this perfect at home. The grill just can’t compete.

  18. 18
    Kaaren

    Amazing… Absolutely stellar

  19. 19
    Amy Schleider

    This is my second time to enjoy this method of preparing a gorgeous piece of beef tenderloin (about 1 1/2 to 2″ thick) I use a de buyer pan on the cook top and it is absolutely fantastic. Bravo for making this so easy on a cold winters night in Columbia MO

    btw that crowd you have there is absolutely adorable

    • Jane Maynard

      amy, I am so happy it has been consistent for you – and you’re right, perfect for the dead of winter! :)

      and thanks! ;)

  20. 20
    waldo

    saw this on ATK about a year or two ago, was glad to find it, was always intrigued by the technique, BUT, living in KC MO I have always loved the taste charcoal imparts to a steak, so I was wondering, why would it not work to start your steak in the prescribed manner in the oven, then finish it on the Weber grill for a couple minutes as opposed to in a cast iron skillet? just sayin. Would love some feedback, would you email me if you post a response? thanks

  21. 21
    Vanveen

    Waldo, if you’re still wondering–yes, you can certainly finish this or any steak on a Weber, but you need to be careful. The grill is likely to be MUCH hotter (450+ degrees) than even a cast iron pan. But it can be done, and I have. Ok. First get the coals ready so they are *in the grill* as you put the steak into the oven. When you remove the steak, the grill coals should’ve burned down some and ideally will be a little cooler. If you have a Thermopen (if not, get one…very expensive but easily the best kitchen money I ever spent), use it to test the grill’s radiant temperature. You want it to be around 350 or so. Now sear the steak…if it’s hotter than that, I’d cut sear time to 90 seconds on each side, 45-50 seconds each edge (don’t forget the edges). Keep a beer or water handy to douse any flareups.
    Remember, the most important grill tool is a WATCH. Time it exactly and you will be very happy, especially if you just dropped $40 on good meat.
    This will err on the rare side, as one should :) but that’s safer, as you can always give it a minute more if necessary. But it should be perfect as is.
    And make a quick note like an email to yourself about the time it took. Webers are awesome, but vary tremendously based on humidity, outside temperature, and wind. Good luck.

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