Cooking the Perfect Steak at Home



Forgive this photo of my half-eaten dinner, I originally had no intention of making this dinner a blog entry.  I was just happily chomping away when it hit me – this steak was perfectly cooked! 

Why is it perfect?  Look closely, there’s only a little run-off from the meat itself.  The juices stayed in the meat because it had time to rest before serving, the center is perfectly and evenly pink.  What you can’t tell from the photo is how tender the meat was, and what a grear flavor the excellent brush-on steak sauce gave. 

Unlike the last steaks I posted about here and here, this one was just right.  The meat was a couple of  1-inch boneless top loin cuts weighing about half a pound each.  I got it from the Peterson AFB Commissary.  I believe they get their meat locally but can’t be sure.  This wasn’t anything special really.  I left it in the refrigerator a couple of days.  Then about an hour before cooking it, I took it out and let it come to room temperature.  But here’s the difference, I put  a light sprinkle of meat tenderizer and freshly ground black pepper on both sides and left it sitting on a plate in the kitchen.  

Meat tenderizer does exactly the same thing as aging a steak. Aging beef changes the fibers and collagen which is caused by enzymes in the meat.  The difference is the time.  Instead of aging it in an environment of about 35F temperature for 21 days, it will only take minutes with a meat tenderizer.

I was determined to have the steaks at room teperature prior to cooking this time around and waited about an hour before that happened.  In that time, the tenederizer did a great job with this grocery store piece of meat.  The steak came out like it was aged at Johnny’s Cafe in Omaha.  So deliciously tender, I call it the best steak that’s ever come out of my kitchen. 

Now for the cooking…

I put a heavy-bottomed 10-inch skillet on high heat and brushed some light olive oil throughout the bottom and the sides.  I let that come to almost smoking.  Then I put in the first steak and waited half a minute before putting in the next piece of meat.  The two pieces fit perfectly in my pan.  At this point, I brought the heat to about medium high because my pan was getting too hot.  I then loosened each cut with a steel spatula so I could move the steaks around and make sure it was going to get evenly browned.  I cooked each side for 3 minutes – no more –  and turned it only once. 

After turning it, I then brushed some Andria’s Steak Sauce (thank goodness we bought several bottles last time we were there) over the steaks.  After the last 3 minutes were done, I put the whole pan in the hot oven.  I’d read somewhere that for a 1-inch steak, the perfect time in the oven is about 10 minutes but was disappointed in the past.  This time I went for 8 minutes.  After half that time, I took out the pan and again brushed steak sauce over it.  Then back to the oven it went for the remaining 4 minutes…this time closer to the heating element at the top.

I  started my zucchini when I first put the steaks in the oven.  It was just stir-fried, then steamed with a bit of water in the pan.  But it wasn’t ready when the steaks were.  So I put the steaks on a plate and left it on the counter, waiting for the veggies.  The meat had time to REST before it was served.  This short wait guaranteed a very juicy steak because the juices don’t run off like they would if it were cut before it was rested.  This was a mistake I’d always made in the past.

Since there was so much brown bits and drippings in the pan, I decided to transfer the veggies and cooked it a few more minutes in the pan juices.  Ohhhh, it was just perfect.  The steaks were tender with the meat juicy and the steak sauce gave it a flavor that was just excellent.

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