Think cooking an awesome steak at home is too difficult or too expensive? Think again. This ultra-tender steak melts in your mouth (especially when you use the nine steps/tricks below), is moderately priced, takes an easy 10 hands-on minutes to make, and the best part: is sliced and drizzled with a thick, ultra-savory (yet simple) browned butter pan sauce. And you only need THREE ingredients (plus salt and pepper) for the whole thing.
Behold: the Perfect Pan-Seared Steak with Browned Butter Pan Sauce, in all it’s glory:
Wipe that drool off your face and keep reading (then RUN to the grocery store to get the ingredients).
Let’s start from the beginning, shall we? Here are nine steps/tricks to making a perfect steak that won’t break the bank.
1. Use a cast iron skillet. If you don’t have one, I beg you to reconsider this important life decision. Inexpensive, virtually indestructible, and super versatile, my cast iron skillet is my all-time favorite cooking tool. The reason why it’s perfect for cooking this steak is that it can get searing hot, which is essential for developing a proper crust on your steak.
If you don’t have one and you need steak NOW, you’d be able to use another heavy bottomed skillet (such as stainless steel). Just make sure you don’t use non-stick: you have to get the pan too hot to safely use a pan with a non-stick coating.
2. Choose the right cut. I usually buy New York Strip- in my opinion, it’s the best for the price. I’m far too frugal of a person to be buying the really pricey cuts of steak, but I’m far too snobby of a cook to use the real cheap stuff (and I don’t want to sit through my whole meal gnawing through tough meat!). Rest assured, you can certainly use other cuts of steak with this technique, depending on how frugal/snobby you are :-)
Look for a cut of meat that is about 1-inch thick (this will ensure a crusty, seared outside but a tender inside that doesn’t get overcooked) and has fat marbled throughout. You want to avoid large “stripes” of fat running through the center of the meat (but around the outside is fine). The marbled fat will disperse throughout the meat and make it super tender, but large pieces of fat won’t break down and will remain tough.
3. Let the meat come to room temperature. Set the meat on a plate and allow it to warm up a bit before cooking. This will do two things: a) ensure even cooking, and b) allow some of the liquid to be released from the steak. If the meat is too wet, it won’t get as nice of a sear on the outside.
Allow the meat to sit out for a minimum of fifteen minutes- ideally, a half an hour. This is the perfect amount of time for you to get some chili garlic sweet potato fries in the oven, as I did (or prep for whatever other side you are going to have with it).
4. Salt and pepper the heck out of it. First, blot the steak dry with a paper towel. Then, add freshly ground pepper and LOTS of Kosher salt to both sides. Make sure you use Kosher, or coarse sea salt- fine table salt won’t work. For those of you who like measurements: I’d say at least a teaspoon (for a one-pound steak), divided on both sides. For those of you who just “go for it” when it comes to salt: sprinkle an even layer on top that generally covers the whole thing. More is better. Trust me.
Here’s why you need lots of seasoning. First: the inside of the meat is not going to be seasoned, so you need to ensure the outside is very salty to properly season an entire bite. And for a one-inch thick steak, this is a lot of meat that doesn’t get seasoned. Second: for this recipe, you will be making an amazing pan sauce out of the juices left in the pan, and some of the seasoning from the steak will be left behind to flavor the sauce….