How to cook a steak? Sear it in a hot cast-iron skillet, then finish it in the oven. You’ll get a nice crusty exterior and a juicy interior, every time.
Every time I order a steak at a good steakhouse, I’m in awe. It always comes out perfect – a thick delicious crust on the outside, super juicy medium-rare meat on the inside.
How do they do it? The secret is to cook in two stages. First, you sear the beef in a super-hot cast-iron skillet. Then you finish cooking it in a super-hot oven. That’s how they do it in restaurants, and that’s how you should do it at home to achieve perfect (or close to perfect) results.
Is your steak thick or thin?
If your steak is thin (about 1/2-inch thick), you can simply pan-fry it. Cook it for 2 minutes per side in a hot cast-iron skillet. A cast-iron pan is best for this recipe because it gets super hot and stays super hot.
But when it comes to thick, 1-inch cuts, the only reliable way to produce perfect results is to use the skillet AND the oven.
First, you sear the meat on both sides in a smoking-hot cast iron pan. This creates that beautiful (and delicious) brown crust. Then you transfer the meat to a very hot oven (500°F or as hot as it will get) to finish cooking.
That’s how steakhouses do it. Granted, they have better equipment and their oven can get to 700°F degrees. They also have access to the best cuts of beef, and they usually finish the dish with butter. Lots of butter.
Why you need these two steps
Unless you’re dealing with very thin cuts, relying on pan-frying alone is very challenging. The outside can get too charred while the inside is still rare.
On the other hand, roasting alone, without frying first, can lead to dry pieces of meat that lack the wonderful, caramelized crust achieved by searing.
So in this simple steak recipe, the beef is seared on both sides, then finished in a hot oven, ensuring a perfect result every time.
I use this method for cooking any thick cut. I’ve used it successfully to cook sirloin, tenderloin, New York strip, and ribeye. In this particular recipe and video, I used New York strip.
Should I remove the meat from the fridge ahead of time?
Contrary to popular advice, I never do. I like my steaks medium-rare. A cold center allows me to sear the meat really well, creating a beautiful crust, and still keep it medium-rare.
I have found that when I bring a steak to room temperature prior to cooking it, it often ends up medium-done, which is not bad, but a bit too done for my personal taste.
What to serve with steak?
With a good cut, the meat should be the star of the show. I never serve starches with a good steak. Instead, I serve it with a small salad such as this simple tomato salad. Other good sides include roasted carrots, caramelized shallots, and sauteed kale.
What to do with leftovers?
Steak is best when served fresh. But you can keep leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days.
Rather than reheat them and risk overcooked meat, I like to slice the leftovers and add them to a steak salad or use them in a lettuce sandwich (slice them very thinly if you use them in a sandwich and remove the fat). But you can also reheat the leftovers gently, covered, in the microwave on 50% power.
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Perfect Steak Recipe
- 1 (8 oz) New York strip steak, 1 inch thick
- 1/4 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
- Heat a well seasoned cast iron skillet over high heat until smoking hot, 5-7 minutes.
- Meanwhile, sprinkle both sides of the steak with kosher salt and black pepper.
- Place the steak in the hot skillet. Cook, without moving, 2 minutes on each side. This will create a nice crust.
- Using oven mitts, transfer the skillet to the hot oven. Roast the steak to medium rare, 3-4 minutes. For medium, roast 4-5 minutes.
- Place the steak on a plate. Loosely cover it with foil. Allow to rest 5 minutes, then top with butter and serve.