To turn out a perfect steak with a crispy crust encapsulating moist, tender meat, sear it first on the stove and finish it in the oven. Use a grill pan to create attractive seared-in grill marks -- in your kitchen, not at the outdoor grill. For the best results, start with a tender steak cut -- such as a rib-eye, New York strip, filet mignon or T-bone -- that's at least 1 1/2 inches thick. If you don't mind the added cost, go for a prime cut over a choice cut for superior fat marbling. The cooking method is quick and simple -- just take care not to overcook the meat.
Take the steak out of the refrigerator one to two hours before cooking and salt both sides liberally with coarse kosher or sea salt. Leave the meat out to eliminate its chill so it cooks evenly. The salt draws water out of the meat and seasons it, and the meat has enough time to reabsorb the moisture.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit about 20 minutes before starting to cook.
Pat freshly cracked black pepper and other seasonings onto the steak right before cooking. A little chili pepper powder or a spicy meat rub adds some kick, for example, or add dried thyme or rosemary, garlic powder or onion powder.
Place a seasoned cast-iron or other oven-safe grill pan over medium-high heat. Let it get hot enough that a flick of water instantly sizzles and evaporates. Lay the steak on the grill pan presentation-side down and sear it for two minutes without moving it. Turn the steak with tongs and sear the other side for about another minute without moving it.
Transfer the grill pan into the middle of the oven. Cook the steak to 140 F, as measured with an instant-read meat thermometer. This brings the steak to medium, and after resting it will reach 145 F, the temperature recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for safety. A boneless 1 1/2-inch-thick steak should take about 10 minutes to reach medium; a bone-in cut cooks slightly faster.
Take the steak off the grill pan promptly to prevent overcooking. Rest the meat on a plate for five to 10 minutes to allow it to finish cooking and rise another five degrees. Be patient so the juices settle back into the muscle fibers, which keeps them from running out when you cut into your steak.
- If you prefer your steak done differently than recommended by the USDA, cook it to a final temperature of 120 F for rare, 130 F for medium-rare, 150 F for medium-well or 160 F for well-done.
- Never leave meat out at room temperature for longer than two hours.
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