Cooking a perfect medium-rare steak needn't be confined to a warm-weather outdoor grilling activity. As long as you have an exhaust hood over your range, panfrying or broiling steak indoors follows the same principles as grilling -- with a cast-iron skillet replacing the grill. Your indoor range likely offers better temperature control than your outdoor grill, allowing you to prepare medium-rare steaks perfectly, even in the dead of winter.
Begin with room-temperature steaks. Placing steaks straight from the refrigerator into a hot skillet results in uneven cooking. About an hour before cooking, lay the steaks flat on a platter, cover them loosely with aluminum foil and allow them to warm to room temperature before seasoning.
Season the steaks liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Adjust the seasoning according to your recipe and taste. If the steaks are marinated, be careful not to over-season them.
Add oil to the skillet and preheat it over medium-high heat. The skillet is ready when the oil begins to smoke.
Place the steaks in the skillet, allowing plenty of space -- at least an inch -- between them. Sear the steaks for about four minutes. Turn the steaks over and sear them for another four minutes.
Remove the steaks from the pan. Place the steaks on a cutting board, loosely covered with aluminum foil. Allow the steaks to rest for five minutes. Slice the steaks or serve them whole.
Begin with well-seasoned, room-temperature steaks. Place an oiled skillet on the highest possible rack in your oven and preheat the broiler.
The skillet will smoke when the broiler is ready. Do not attempt to remove the pan from the oven. Slide out the rack and place the steaks in the skillet with tongs, allowing at least an inch between them. Slide the rack back into place and close the door.
The combined heat of the preheated skillet and broiler cooks the steaks quickly. Depending on their thickness, the steaks will be ready in five or six minutes. Slide out the rack and remove the steaks from the skillet with tongs.
Turn off the broiler and allow the skillet to cool in the oven. Allow the steaks to rest on a cutting board, lightly covered with foil, for a few minutes before serving.
Test your steaks for doneness when you remove them from the pan. Lightly press on the center of the steaks. They should feel firm, yet pliable, with plenty of give. If you are unsure, insert the tip of a sharp knife into the center of the steaks to determine the color.
You can use a meat thermometer, but it can be difficult to rely on its accuracy with steaks. Should you use one, expect the temperature to rise as much as 10 degrees while the meat is resting. Medium-rare is generally defined as 130 degrees Fahrenheit at the meat's center.
Keep an extra pan handy in case smoke overwhelms your exhaust hood's capacity -- this is rare but can occur with a faulty or clogged exhaust hood. If the skillet produces too much smoke, remove it from the heat, remove the steaks from the skillet and cover the smoking skillet with the extra pan. Allow the skillet to cool, covered, under the hood.