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Old 02-27-2013, 10:00 AM   #1
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How to cook a thinner filet?

Normally when I buy beef tenderloin steaks, I get them about 1 1/2 - 2 inches thick so I can get a good sear and then finish in the oven for medium rare. Well this time I accidentally got steaks that are only about 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick. What would be the best way to cook these so as to not overcook them but still get a good crust on the outside? I'm afraid that by the time that happens, they will be overcooked in the middle. I was thinking maybe just 3-4 minutes per side in a hot cast iron pan?

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Old 02-27-2013, 10:02 AM   #2
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I would sear them in a hot cast iron griddle pan. Oil the steaks not the pan. Only 2 or 3 mins per side.
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Old 02-27-2013, 11:16 AM   #3
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Your expectation is correct. It is difficult to properly cook a thin steak at home. We just don't have the heat for it. We're limited by what can be done with a small gas supply line and the low output of home ranges. It takes great heat to sear a thin steak without ruining the center. That's why home cooks who want nicely cooked steaks should buy thick, one inch thick or more.

At least you know the challenge. The hottest surface you can generate. And it may help to chill the meat after it's prepped and move it directly to the grill or pan from the refrigerator. If the available heat is still too wimpy to sear it and leave it rare inside, freeze the steak, sear it, and then finish it in the oven at 200F. A 200 oven isn't going to over blacken the sear while the steak is finishing. (The same technique works on thick steaks.)
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Old 02-27-2013, 11:46 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snip 13 View Post
...Oil the steaks not the pan...
This is normally what I do but I've never really thought about it. Is there a reason to oil the steaks rather than the pan?
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Old 02-27-2013, 12:30 PM   #5
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Your expectation is correct. It is difficult to properly cook a thin steak at home. We just don't have the heat for it. We're limited by what can be done with a small gas supply line and the low output of home ranges. It takes great heat to sear a thin steak without ruining the center. That's why home cooks who want nicely cooked steaks should buy thick, one inch thick or more.

At least you know the challenge. The hottest surface you can generate. And it may help to chill the meat after it's prepped and move it directly to the grill or pan from the refrigerator. If the available heat is still too wimpy to sear it and leave it rare inside, freeze the steak, sear it, and then finish it in the oven at 200F. A 200 oven isn't going to over blacken the sear while the steak is finishing. (The same technique works on thick steaks.)
My CI pans get plenty hot enough on my gas stove to properly sear a steak. I simply need to time it correctly, and let the pan get smoking hot before place the steak in the pan. Once the CI is hot enough, the thermal mass of the pan is sufficient to keep the pan from cooling too much when the steak is placed in to.

As for oiling the steak, If you oiled the pan first, you wold get copious amounts of smoke in your home by the time the pan was hot enough to cook the steak properly. Even with oiling the steak, you will still get smoke. But much of the heat is transferred to the meat, keeping the smoke level down a bit.

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Old 02-27-2013, 12:37 PM   #6
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A steak that thin is tricky.

I would liberally salt the cold meat, but not oil it.

Get the CI screaming hot. Open a window. Sear on both sides and then pull and rest for 5 min. I wouldnt finish in an oven
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Old 02-27-2013, 01:23 PM   #7
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To get it screaming hot, I heat it on medium-low for about 10 minutes.
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Old 02-27-2013, 01:41 PM   #8
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A steak that thin is tricky.

I would liberally salt the cold meat, but not oil it.

That's a point worth making. I give steaks a fairly heavy rub of koshering salt and wrap them in paper towels. The salt draws water from the near surface, and when the meat hits the pan, there is less of a cushion of steam and more effective browning.
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Old 02-27-2013, 01:48 PM   #9
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I don't usually use oil with steaks. I try to find a piece of fat that I can cut off the steak. Then, when the pan is nice and hot, I rub the pan with the piece of fat and toss the steak onto the pan.
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Old 02-27-2013, 02:10 PM   #10
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Thin steaks, to me, need a very hot skillet. You just sear them. So I'm agreeing with most of the posters.
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