First Things First: Steak

One of my former students is a newly minted 2nd LT from West Point and will be on his own shortly and needs some pointers on cooking.

Steak is the easiest and one of the best meals you can cook for yourself. There are a lot of different cuts so you will need to eat several different steaks to find out what you prefer and how much you want it cooked.

You'll need a flat pan, something simple and metal, but not teflon. A tin baking sheet is fine, as is a $1 flat aluminum foil pan. In a pinch I have made a pan by folding aluminum foil. For the alternate methods you'll want a non-teflon frying pan.

You'll need a steak: Ribeye, T-Bone/Porterhouse, NY Strip, Sirloin, Flat Iron, Chuck Eye, London Broil, Top Round, in general order of cost/quality. Anything below that you'll probably want to cook longer.

You can rub the steak with a little olive oil or melted butter and season it with a little salt & pepper. You'll need to experiment to see what you like.

Method 1: You'll need an oven with a broiler (top heating element). Put the oven rack in the 1st or second slot, so that it is near the broiler. Let the broiler element get hot. Put the steak on the pan and the pan on the rack under the hot element. With an average steak, leave it three minutes and flip it for 3 more minutes. That should give you a rare to medium rare steak. Cook it longer for more done, obviously.

Over time you'll need to figure out how much you want it done, how hot your element is, how far away your rack is, and judge how thick your steak is. Plenty of chances to experiment.

Method two: You'll need a metal, preferably stainless, frying pan, avoid teflon, slightly bigger than your steak. Heat a tablespoon (double thick slice) or more of butter in the frying pan. Slightly above medium. Once it starts to melt, swish it around to coat the pan. Once it starts to make noise, put in the steak. About the same amount of time, 3 min on each side, should get you a medium rare steak. Match time to thickness. There will be spatter and a little smoke. (Turn the eye down if it smokes, and be aware of smoke detectors).

Method Three (Preferred): Mixes both. Broil two minutes each side under the broiler and then give each side a minute in the buttered frying pan. See The Maillard Reaction.

It's really easy to do. Once cooked, let the meat rest at least 3 minutes before you start cutting your steak.

Side dish: get a potato or sweet potato, microwave it for 6 minutes and then squeeze (it will be hot). If it gives a little it's close to done. If it is stiff, cook it another minute, check and repeat til it gives a bit. More done is better. Slice it down the middle, but not completely in half, widen the hole, break the potato up with a fork inside the skin, and add butter and sour cream.

Another side dish: can of green beans, microwavable (not plastic or metal) bowl. 2 minutes. When done, drain of water, add butter, salt & pepper.

Another side dish option: some mixed spring greens (or any lettuce you prefer) put on some cut up tomato or onion or any veg you like. Bottled dressing is easy. A Viniagrette made by mixing 2 parts olive oil and one part vinegar (balsamic, red wine, or apple cider) together in a cup is cool. Try two tablespoons of oil and one tablespoon of vinegar at first. It will separate quickly, just restir it.

Plate it up, with the salad in a seprate bowl. It looks professional as hell, and took no time at all. Get good at this for dates & company. Much cheaper than buying steaks out.


1 comment:

  1. After Action Report (AAR):

    Actions Taken;
    I cooked two thin sirloins using Method 2 (I only have a stove). I rubbed the first steak with a small amount of olive oil and put some salt on it. After the butter in the pan started making noise I added the first steak and I cooked it for about three minutes before I flipped it and cooked it for three more minutes before I removed it from the pan.
    I did not coat the second steak in anything and only cooked it for two minutes on each side to experiment and see the difference.

    I could definitely taste the olive oil seasoning on the first steak, whereas the second steak was more tender.

    Fast, easy, cheap, and delicious. My skills need refining, but I will definitely repeat operations soon.