I really start to crave a thick, juicy steak when the cold weather hits, and this time-tested way of pan roasting is the perfect method when you don't want to fire up the barbecue. Chefs have always relied on this technique for cooking meat, poultry or fish, and it is a perfect hack for home cooks. You need a heavy frying pan; cast iron is the best, but not necessary. Don't use non-stick, as it can't be heated high enough.
Have your steak ready. The best cuts are premium: ribs steaks, rib eye or New York sirloin, although I have used this method with flank steak. Let the meat come to room temperature, then season generously on both sides with salt and freshly cracked pepper.
Preheat your oven to 450 F (220 C). Heat your heavy pan for 1 to 2 minutes over high heat, then add 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil. Don't use butter – it will burn. Add the steaks, but do not crowd the pan. Sear for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until browned. Place the pan in the oven, or, if you're cooking more than a couple of steaks, heat a baking sheet for 10 minutes in the hot oven and then plunk the steaks on to it. Bake for 5 to 12 minutes depending on the thickness of the meat and the desired degree of doneness. A one-inch steak usually takes 5 minutes, but gorgeous 2-inch beauties, my favourites, take about 10 minutes for medium-rare.
Remove to a carving board and let sit for 5 minutes or so. Slice the steak into pieces or serve whole, sprinkling with some Maldon salt. Some people (not me, I am a purist) like to drizzle melted butter on top.
Thicker cuts work better than thinner ones, but everything from chicken breasts to beef filet tastes better when cooked using this method. The reason? It seals in the juices.
Sauces are often made in the skillet afterward, as the brown bits at the bottom of the pan make an excellent base (another reason to avoid non-stick). Add a liquid of your choice, like beef or chicken stock or wine with herbs, until the volume is reduced, and then finish with a pat of butter or a dollop of cream.
One great benefit is that you can do the searing early on and bake the steaks when needed, adding a minute or two of cooking time because the steaks will have cooled.
One caution: When you remove the skillet from the oven, keep the handle covered with a cloth or oven mitt to avoid burning yourself.
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