How to pan sear a steak to perfection

·3-min read

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Pan-seared steak is a dinner staple for lots of people, but cooking it just right isn’t always easy. 

In this episode of In The Know’s Cooking Class, host Caitlin Sakdalan of Be Fat Be Happy shows how to get the perfect medium-rare steak. 

First Sakdalan preheated the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. She put on plastic gloves and lightly seasoned a slab of ribeye with salt and pepper. 

“I love a great ribeye,” Sakdalan said. “I think ribeye is amazing because it has a good amount of fat and fat equals flavor. It’s not something on a steak we should be afraid of.” 

When it comes to seasoning a steak, the choice is really yours. But less can be more.

“It really is up to you. For me, I really like using a nice paprika or chili powder. Adding that little bit of extra spice and flavor,” she said. “You can also add some garlic powder in there. But you really can’t go wrong with a classic salt and pepper because there’s so much marbling and flavor in a really great quality piece of steak.” 

Next, before searing, she made sure the pan was nice and hot. 

“We want a really great medium-high that’s going to help us really sear the crust and get that flavor from the fat and the juices in there,” she explained.

Because the steak is very thick, Sakdalan was sure to cook it on one side first. 

“We’re going to do three minutes on this side, at least,” she said. “Then about two minutes on the other side before we put it into the oven and finish cooking it off.” 

Yes, that means flipping a steak only once is still the conventional wisdom. 

“You want to be able to lock in as much moisture and juices as possible,” Sakdalan remarked. “When you flip it too many times, you kind of lose some of those juices and those flavors. You want to get that nice sear and that crust on the one side. Keeping it flat as long as possible, really gets that nice brown juicy sear.” 

After three minutes, she flipped the steak to the other side with a pair of OXO Good Grips 9-Inch Locking Tongs. Sakdalan used the tongs to sear the edges of the ribeye. Then it was time to pop the steak in the oven for eight to 10 minutes. 

While the steak was finishing cooking, she made a quick blue cheese compound butter.

“A compound butter is basically just a softened stick of butter with different ingredients of your choice to really amp up the flavors of your steak,” she explained. 

She mixed a stick of softened butter, blue cheese, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, rosemary and parsley. Then she took the steak out of the oven. 

“After your steak is done cooking, it’s super important to check the temperature because we don’t want an undercooked or an overcooked steak,” Sakdalan said. 

She prodded the ribeye with a Saferell thermometer right in the center to make sure it was around 140 to 145 degrees Fahrenheit for a perfect medium-rare. 

“Before eating, we want to let our meat rest,” Sakdalan said. “This is super important because it keeps all the flavors and juices in there before cutting it. If you cut the meat when it’s too hot, you lose all of those juices. Then your meat will dry out and we don’t want that.” 

She placed a piece of the blue cheese compound butter onto the center of the steak and let it melt. Finally, it was time to dig in. 

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If you enjoyed this story, check out other Cooking Class episodes here.

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