I’ll be the first to sport a parka and boots and face the elements on a cold winter night if it means a juicy steak for dinner. However, there are times when you just want steak without having to bundle up.
The classic method of pan-cooking a steak involves searing it for about two minutes per side in a hot pan, then sliding that pan into a hot oven to continue cooking. This method works reasonably well, but when dealing with thicker cuts they tend to cook unevenly; dry on the outer edges and undercooked in the centre. In order to correct this, it’s time for a little rethink.
The method below begins in the oven and finishes in the pan. Slow-roasting the steak first allows heat to evenly penetrate the meat, giving the interior a chance to begin cooking without overcooking the outside. It’s crucial that the meat is roasted on a rack, allowing all the surfaces to be exposed to air. This helps to dry the surface in preparation for pan-searing, which will result in an unbelievably delicious crust on the steak. Give it a try, you’ll love it. And who knows — maybe next summer you won’t even bother dragging the barbecue back out again.
Perfect Oven-Cooked Steak
Prep: 10 min
Total time: 35 min
- 2 10-12 oz strip loin steaks, 11/2-inches thick
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
- PREHEAT oven to 250F. Place steaks on a rack over a baking sheet. Rub with 1 tbsp oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast steaks in the centre of the oven for about 20 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from oven.
- HEAT oil in a medium skillet over high heat. Add steaks and sear until deep brown and crisp, about 3 minutes a side. Hold the steak on their sides and cook the edges for 1 min per side. Remove to rack and let rest for 10 min. Slice and enjoy.
This brings up the issue of properly browning or searing meat. The purpose of browning meat is to create flavour. Whether you’re browning steak or ground beef, you’re building flavour with that caramelization. Here are a few essentials when it comes to properly browning meat:
Preheat the pan: If you don’t hear a “tsssss” when you add your meat to the pan, it isn’t hot enough. Remove the meat and wait until your pan is hotter.
Avoid cold meat in a hot pan: We aren’t always comfortable bringing meat to room temperature, but at the very least take your meat out of the fridge 15 minutes before you intend to cook it. If the centre of your meat is cold, it will be undercooked when the exterior is cooked.
Pat your meat dry: Oil and water don’t like each other. When meat is wet and enters a hot oiled pan, a layer of water between the pan and the meat prevents it from colouring. Pat your meat as dry as you can get it before seasoning it and adding it to the pan.
Season, season, season: Salt serves two functions when it comes to browning meat. First, salt brings out the flavour in the meat. Second, the salt helps caramelize the meat, forming that crispy crust you’re looking for. Pat your meat as dry as you can, then rub it with oil to form a seal. Season well with salt and pepper, then add to pan.
Use high heat: We are often too intimidated to use the high setting on our stovetop for anything other than boiling water. This is that time. You need a HOT pan to properly sear meat. The hotter the pan, the more the caramelization and colour. A pan that isn’t hot enough will take too long to form a crust and will begin cooking the inner layer of the meat at an improper temperature. This is what I like to refer to a “rubber chicken’ syndrome.
Chatelaine’s favourite steak recipes:
Originally published January 2015; Updated October 2021.