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Old 02-25-2009, 08:56 PM   #1
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Steak in a pan?

Hello forums, I love steak and steak is one of my favorite foods to eat in many different ways. I usually utilize the grill to cook my steak since I know they will always come out perfect and the way I want it to be every time. My problem lies with I sometimes do not have time to fire up the grill and wait for coals to get hot etc... only for a small steak that takes 8 minutes to cook. I have tried many times to cook steak in a pan and always it is unsuccessful and ends up being chewy and tasting horrible. For example, I was making a Japanese beef bowl last night and thinly sliced up some sirloin, salted and peppered, and decided to try and use my cast iron skillet as opposed to my non-stick I normally use. Sure enough, it was the same as always the pan filled with liquid and juices and it poached my meat and the meat was chewy and had no carmalization to it. This even happens when I try to throw a whole piece of meat in the pan as well whether non-stick or cast iron. I have tried high, med-high, and even a med heat and every time it comes out the same. I just want to cook a nice steak in a pan that has great carmalization to it and taste great. Any help would be fantastic. (for the record, I do not turn steaks over constantly, only once)

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Old 02-25-2009, 09:12 PM   #2
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The techniques for cooking slices of steak as opposed to a whole steak are different. However, the key to success for both is high heat.

If you're cooking slices of steak for a dish, thake the stir fry approach. High heat and a little oil both super hot, add the strips of steak in a single layer and allow the to sear undisturbed for a minute. Then stir vigerously for a minute or two more until the steak is done to your liking.

For a whole steak, get you CI skillet smokin' hot and place the steak in the pan. Don't try to move it around at all. After 3-4 minutes turn it over and repeat. IF the steak is more than 1.5 inches thick finish it in a 400 F oven.
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Old 02-25-2009, 09:15 PM   #3
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Hey zoom.
I too share your love for steak. I don't cook it in a pan too frequently. How hot is the pan when you put the steak in. Also how do you like your steak, as far as rare and all that?
Have you tried broiling steak? It is a nice alternative to grilling.
Read this article about broiling steak - How to Broil Steak
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Old 02-25-2009, 09:32 PM   #4
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I agree with Andy M. about how to pan fry and finish a steak in the oven. But, I usually go with Nils' option and broil - it's really just gilling turned upside-down (heating from the top instead of the bottom).
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Old 02-25-2009, 09:32 PM   #5
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I agree, the key is high heat but that is NOT the only key. Since you do not have the grill imparting its flavor to the meat, you need to season it well.

Lightly oil the pan..barely anything at all on it. Get it hot drop on the seasoned steak. Remember you have a huge contact surface transferring heat to the meat. It's going to cook FAST.

Let it flash off, brown for a couple then flip it.

Of course if you want more of a grilled flavor....use the broiler instead..
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Old 02-25-2009, 09:48 PM   #6
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That article is in the works!
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Old 02-25-2009, 11:17 PM   #7
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zoom, i was once a disciple of the grill: nothing but the actual fire for my steaks, and i was pretty proud of my marinade, too. then i hunted along on this here forum and lo! there are plenty of techniques & recipes for cooking steaks inside. sad but true, the grill is now for large-scale operations only. search through the older threads and you'll find it, but the nutshell goes something like this: put your pan in the oven, turn to 400something. when oven & pan are heated, transfer pan to stovetop on high heat. put in a pat of butter and a bit of olive oil - this will quickly melt. toss in your steak that has been salted & peppered on both sides, sear quickly on each side, and then transfer back to the oven. leave it in there for 5 minutes or so, or put it under the broiler if you want a more carmelized crust. pan back to stovetop, wrap the steak in foil to "rest" for a couple of minutes on your plate, while using the fond left in the pan as the base for some KILLER sauteed mushrooms.

sliced bits o' meat are a different story entirely...
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Old 02-25-2009, 11:33 PM   #8
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Though both grilling and broiling cook by transferring heat energy to the meat by infra-red radiation, the flavor is substantially different. The meat behaves exactly the same in both cooking methods. however, when meat is cooked on a grill, fat drips onto the charcoal, ceramic bricks, or hot metal and creates smoke. That smoke is made up of unburned gasses, and carbon particles which rise with the hot air. Some of the particulate deposits itself on the meat, giving it the characteristic grilled flavor.

Broiled meat generates very little, if any smoke. The meat still browns due to the maillard effect (sp), but does not develop the slightly bitter flavor caused by smoke deposition on the meat surface. Texture and quality can be identicle for both methods. but if you want grilled flavor, you have to have smoke.

As for pan frying, Andy M. and Michael in Fort Worth have already covered it. The problem you are experiencing (steaming or poaching the meat) is caused by too little heat. This can be alleviated by using a larger, heavier pan, again smoking hot. The pan won't cool as fast when the meat is placed in it. The protiens in the outher layer will tighten up, sealing in the juices and allowing the meat to brown properly. If cooked on too low a temperature, or in a crowded pan (lowers the temperature of the pan), the juices ooze from the meat, and in an attempt to brown it, the meat is overcooked, making it tough and dry.

As an afterthought, meat doesn't carmelize. But that's just semantics.

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Old 02-26-2009, 12:01 AM   #9
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Thank you all so much for the help. I will do a forum search for broiling and the next time I try an inside the kitchen steak I will try turning up the heat a bit more Once again, heating a pan is always much easier and quicker if just cooking a steak for myself and my wife rather than waiting on coals to get hot and become stable. Thanks again for tips.
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Old 03-03-2009, 09:58 AM   #10
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Everyone above is correct. HIGH HEAT. However I must add to the discussion. Meat selection is more important than technique, because it has a more dramatic effect on the end result. Each dish requires a different cut of meat. You must think, no one is going to grind filet mignon up to use for hamburger! Sirloin is meant to be cooked as a whole steak, think about other steak dishes that are thinly sliced, pan cooked, juicy and delicious, one mainly comes to mind and it is not Asian- FAJITAS! skirt steak is all I know people to use for fajitas. If you wish to cook a nice whole steak get a New York Strip Steak that is USDA Choice or better, only because you need the marbeling (intramuscular fat) for flavor. High heat, salt and pepper the crap out of it at room temperature before cooking (the salt and pepper intensify the flavor while also assisting in denaturing the proteins a bit, helping to make a more tender steak). Little oil in an incredibly hot pan. Brown on one side (NOT Carmelized, which is the browning of sugars, the browning of protein is called the Maillard Reaction)then turn steak to other side, cook till almost deep brown and put in a 400 degree oven until cooked to your liking.

Other notes:
Mounting with butter, before putting the steak in the oven. The French Emperor Chef, Escoffier called it "monte au beurre", top it with some unmelted butter.

*Remember, steak does not stop cooking once you pull it out of the
oven.

It is called carry over cooking, the same goes for Turkey, roast beef, even hamburgers. If you want a meduim steak, you have to pull it out when it is medium rare. The internal temperature will keep cooking the meat so if what you pulled out of the oven was medium, by the time you cut into it, you have a dry, flavorless well done steak. Thanksgiving turkeys have that pop up timer on it that is set to go off when the internal temprature is 155 F. however it carries up to 185 and the turkey is ruined!

***FAT IS GOOD***
I personally hate filet mignon because although very tender, there is no fat on it and therefore no FLAVOR. why do you think everyone bacon wraps them or rolls it something extremely flavorful? If you want a tasty peice of meat, get one with a high fat content.

**RESTING**
All meat must rest. When you cook meat, roasts, or ground burgers, the juices are moving around and they generally always move to the center. When you are so hungry and cannot wait any more, you cut into the meat juice and blood come pouring out, looking like an 80's slasher film, and you go "oh yeah, thats a juicy steak!" However the experience is lacking flavor and the juiciness you thought you had, leaving you feeling abandoned and lonely. LOL. When you let your steak rest for 8-12 minutes you are giving it time for the juices to re-disperse and settle into every litte knook and cranny of that steak, hence making your dinner an exceptional one.

Protein cookery is VERY difficult and a lot of people take a perfectly cooked peice of meat for granted. Sorry for the runons and grammatical errors.
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Old 03-03-2009, 10:45 AM   #11
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I also agree you have to go high heat. For whole steaks I like to use a cast iron grill pan. It cooks great and locks in all the juices and you stil get those cool grill marks.

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Old 03-03-2009, 10:50 AM   #12
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Cooking steaks on cast iron is a great way to cook them, but it does not lock in any juices.
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Old 03-03-2009, 07:36 PM   #13
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The way Mom taught me, and she learned it in France, was to put some vegetable oil in a skillet. Heat it up. Then a dab of butter (actually, we didn't have much moolah and it was usually margarine). The oil will keep the butter/margarine from burning for some reason. A thin steak, heavy on the S&P, then fry to your preference (in those days we all liked it very rare. I still do!). If it is a thicker slice, then throw some sliced onions and/or sliced mushrooms in the mix. If you are truly broke, buy a cubed steak and dredge it in flour, salt and pepper and do the same thing. That makes a great breakfast steak.
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Old 03-09-2009, 08:34 AM   #14
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I wish I remembered exactly how I cooked this one memorable steak for myself years ago when I was single. I DO remember trimming off some of the fat from around the edge and just rubbing the pan (I think it was a small CI) with it. That was the only "oil" I used, and it turned out tender and deelish. Wish I remembered the cut of meat and the temp I used because I've never made one as good since then in a pan.
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Old 03-09-2009, 08:54 AM   #15
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Along with the techniques above, try a carbon steel fry pan. They are similar to a CI pan, but they heat much quicker, get hotter and are excellent for searing meat. They are pretty cheap as well.
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Old 03-09-2009, 09:04 AM   #16
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cast iron is great but carbon steel is awesome.
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Old 03-09-2009, 10:21 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GB View Post
Cooking steaks on cast iron is a great way to cook them, but it does not lock in any juices.
I respectfully but completely disagree with this statement. I cook steaks in cast iron pans all the time, & a very hot cast iron pan most definitely sears the meat perfectly & locks in the juices. I LOVE properly cooked cast-iron-pan steaks. The key is the pan being at the correct "sizzle" temp. A hot pan definitely seals in all the juices.
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Old 03-09-2009, 10:35 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
The techniques for cooking slices of steak as opposed to a whole steak are different. However, the key to success for both is high heat.

If you're cooking slices of steak for a dish, thake the stir fry approach. High heat and a little oil both super hot, add the strips of steak in a single layer and allow the to sear undisturbed for a minute. Then stir vigerously for a minute or two more until the steak is done to your liking.

For a whole steak, get you CI skillet smokin' hot and place the steak in the pan. Don't try to move it around at all. After 3-4 minutes turn it over and repeat. IF the steak is more than 1.5 inches thick finish it in a 400 F oven.
Great description, Andy! I always do my steaks in a pan. Back in the day, we always broiled them, but I find I have more control of the outcome with the pan method. Like anything else, it takes a little practice.
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Old 03-09-2009, 10:35 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BreezyCooking View Post
I respectfully but completely disagree with this statement. I cook steaks in cast iron pans all the time, & a very hot cast iron pan most definitely sears the meat perfectly & locks in the juices. I LOVE properly cooked cast-iron-pan steaks. The key is the pan being at the correct "sizzle" temp. A hot pan definitely seals in all the juices.
Cooking in a hot pan absolutely sears the meat. I will certainly agree with you on that. It has been proven that it does not lock in juices though and actually does the opposite. Searing the meat ruptures the cell walls and makes juice come out. Weigh your steak before and after and you will see that it weight less after you cook it. This is because of moisture loss.

Here is a link with a little more info.

Google searing meat seals in juices and you will find a ton of other links that all say the same thing.
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Old 03-09-2009, 10:40 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robo410 View Post
cast iron is great but carbon steel is awesome.
I love my carbon steel pans, but cast iron is not for the same purposes, imho. Yes, I use the carbon steel pans for steaks and chops. the best!
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