Steak – Definitely Not Just for Grilling!

My husband would have never agreed with the title of this post before trying steak prepared via a simple stove-top technique presented by Chef Tiffani Faison on NECN earlier this week.

Although we tune into NECN mostly for the weather (we are big Matt Noyes fans), we caught Chef Tiffani’s Valentine Dinner segment and decided to try it for ourselves, albeit putting our celebratory meal off to Friday night. You can see the video, recipe, and the chef’s extra tips by clicking HERE.

I had hoped to get some locally raised beef for this meal, but was not able to get to the Medford Winter Farmers Market on Thursday, so I opted for two strip steaks from Farmland, our local grocery store. [Note to self: talk to Frank about offering locally raised meats at Farmland!]

seasoned steak
This photo is deceptive – these are 2″ thick – although the one on the right was a bit thinner (1 1/2″) on one end.

For this recipe, all you need is:

  • strip steak(s) or comparable cut
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • kosher salt
  • high quality olive oil
  • garlic cloves
  • fresh sprigs of thyme
  • butter – REAL butter!

Other than that – you need to have a really good pan.  Chef Tiffani recommends cast iron, but any pan with a thick bottom that spreads and hold heat evenly will work just as well.  How do I know? I’ll tell you.  🙂

I had two steaks, but only one of my well-seasoned cast iron pans is big enough  for one steak, never mind two.  But, I also have an All-Clad saute pan… Time to experiment! Good thing Steve knows his way around the kitchen.

pans ready
Dueling pans set and ready to go. 🙂

The first step was to bring the meat to room temperature by removing it from the fridge an hour or so before cooking. Then we prepped each station with a few crushed garlic cloves, a small bunch of thyme, and partially melted butter, as well as a basting spoon and tongs at each site. We put about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in each pan and were ready to go.

Steve took his place at the cast iron and and I stepped up to the All-Clad saute pan, and we were off!

Here is the technique, edited down to a few simple bullet points:

  • Season steak with pepper and LOTS of salt
  • Add 2 T oil to pan
  • Turn heat under pan to HIGH
  • When oil is HOT, (smoking is good!) put steak in the pan
  • Baste steak with the olive oil and juices for 3.5 – 4 minutes
  • Flip steak and baste for another 2 minutes
  • Turn off heat and add crushed garlic and thyme to pan
  • Add butter, put garlic and thyme on steak, and baste all with butter
  • Remove steak from pan and let rest for at least 10 minutes.
First one out!
First one out!

Note the lovely crust!  We also did as the chef suggested and used the tongs to hold the steak fat band in the oil to crisp that up, also. Holding the steak so that just the fat is in the oil is also a great way to test whether the pan is hot enough – if it gives a good strong sizzle, it is ready for the steak.

Resting for just a bit.

While the steak rested, I steamed some asparagus and finished up the potatoes…Oh, I forgot to mention the potatoes!  To accompany, I cut up five or so small red potatoes and half a big Vidalia onion, added around 10 little cremini mushrooms, and tossed them with freshly ground black pepper, kosher salt, and a tablespoon or two olive oil in a corning ware casserole. I  also had some thyme to spare…

Roasted potato, crimini mushrooms, and Vidalia onion.
Roasted potato, cremini mushrooms, and Vidalia onion.

I then covered with foil and cooked for about an hour at 400 degrees, obviously starting them well before the steak. Once the steak was done and resting, I removed the foil and kept cooking to crisp up just a bit.

And then, a lovely dinner.  This picture does not do it credit. At all.

Plated – with photo taken after the start of the meal!

We could have done fine with just one steak rather than two, but we did have plenty leftover!  But, in general, one steak weighing a pound or a bit under is more than enough for two.

LOTs of leftovers.  :)
Lots of leftovers!

Bottom line, this is a really tasty way to prepare steak, as well as quick and easy.  And, here is a cleanup tip: Let the pan sit overnight and use some paper towels to wipe out the congealed fat. Then, simply wash as usual if using a stainless steel pan, or, if using cast iron, just soak for a bit in very hot water and then wipe clean.

And, which pan did the best job?  After trying some of the second steak the next day, I can say that they both produced an equally crusty and delicious steak.  So, while cast iron is the classic choice, feel free to use a stainless steel pan providing it has a heavy bottom and can handle high heat.

But, especially if preparing a special meal to share with your honey, I recommend the pan contest, or a least work together to create the entire meal. That will add the best seasoning of all.  <3