How to Pan Fry a Steak

A pan-fried steak is a type of dish that is pan-fried in oil or fat. Pan-frying is a cooking method usually used for thin cuts of meat, such as beef (steaks) and chicken breast fillets. It’s essential to cook the steak over high heat so it can brown quickly on the surface before continuing to cook through. This will keep the inside moist and tender since there won’t be much time for juices to escape from the pan before they are sealed by another layer of cooked meat. You will also want to ensure your skillet or frying pan is coated in oil to avoid meat being stuck on the surface when cooking.

Use a thick cut of steak

To help maintain a crust on the outside and moist meat within, the best steaks to pan fry on the stove are braised, bone-in steaks that are between one and a half inches thick or more should weigh at least 24 ounces to 32 ounces. Steaks such as ribeyes and strip steaks work well for indoor cooking. 

Find a steak with plenty of fat running through it, and ask your butcher to cut thicker steaks if needed. Meats with more fat remain juicy during the cooking process, resulting in the meaty flavor and texture you want from a steak.

You’ll also need to reduce the time per side for anything that’s thinner, like a flank or skirt steak. The amount of time you’ll need could be as quick as 3 minutes per side, depending on its thickness.

Dry them off. 

To get the perfect crust sear, you can’t let your steak be wet. Just dry the steaks before putting them in a hot pan with a bit of oil.

After seasoning the steak with salt, let it rest in the refrigerator overnight. When cooking, set your pan on medium-high heat and lightly grease it before laying the steak down in a single layer.

For this recipe, add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan and let it heat up before adding onion and garlic. Add spinach, then cook for about five minutes until wilted. Stir in chopped kale, parsley, and basil, then simmer uncovered over low heat just long enough so that all ingredients are heated but not overcooked (about ten minutes). Season with salt to taste

Season it well

The way that salt seasons meat will vary depending on when you add it during the cooking process. For a perfect, flavorful sear quickly, season your steaks as soon as they come off of the grill. If you’re in need of more flavor over time, wait until hours beforehand to strengthen them and let them sit. Regardless of how long you remain or when in the process, always allow two hours after seasoning for any enzymes from the steak to deplete so that everything comes together nicely.

Possibly most casual and spontaneous preparation method for steak is to salt it 30 minutes before cooking. This technique seasons the steak as well as creating a dry surface that helps when searing in a pan.

One technique is to salt the steak for 24 hours before cooking. A dry surface makes searing easier, and a little more seasoning means a better flavor inside. You’ll need extra storage in your fridge or freezer if you’re going to do this ahead of time—you won’t be able to put it away after salting it.

Personally, I never do the forethought of seasoning my steak ahead of time; usually, I’ll pick up a steak when it’s late at night and want to eat.

Spice After Searing

If you’re cooking steak on a grill, stove-top frying pan, or cast-iron skillet, steer clear of any seasoning combinations that include pepper (ground or fresh) and rubs. Salt and pepper will create a nice crust, but the spice might burn.

Some pan-frying recipes recommend adding spices after searing. If you’re using salt for seasoning your pan-fried steak (which is usually necessary), then it’s best not to add any other seasoning until the end of cooking or just before serving. This way, your pan-fried steak remains flavorful without getting too salty from oversalting at an early stage in the process.

Get the pan HOT

While pan-frying steak, you’ll want to use a pan that has enough space for each of your steaks with at least one inch between them, so they all get browned evenly and quickly without sticking together or burning on the bottom. 

When it comes to pans, using heavy aluminum is ideal because this metal heats up really well (much better than stainless steel). When cooking steak, make sure not to overcrowd the pan, as this will cause streaks in the middle layer(s) from being appropriately cooked and could lead to unevenly cooked meat due to the heat differential created by the overfilled pan.

And don’t think about stirring during cooking if you can help it! Unless your recipe specifically tells you otherwise, just let the pan do its work for you and cook evenly on one side before flipping to another.

Determining Doneness

The best way to determine when steak is done cooking changes depending on the type of cut. For example, rib eye or a T-bone should be cooked for an internal temperature of 135°F to 140°F while filet mignon should be finished at 130°F to 135°F.

Fry the steak for about four minutes on one side and then flip it over. Then use a probe thermometer to find out when the internal temperature is halfway between rare and medium-rare, which will depend on how cooked you would like it.

To fry a rare steak, remove the steak from the heat at 125°F after slow cooking of six minutes.

For the best-medium rare steak, please remove it from the heat at 130°F and allow for about eight minutes of cooking time.

For a medium-rare steak, 140°F is the optimal cooking temperature in nine to 10 minutes.

A steak requires 12 minutes of cooking.

Don’t worry — the process of basting in butter before and after cooking helps ensure that even the most well-cooked steak is moist and flavorful.

Is Resting Required?

It’s not always required, but it is advised. For a pan-fried steak that has been cooked to an internal temperature of 150°F and up, a rest time of about three minutes will give the juices enough time to redistribute appropriately so that they’re evenly distributed throughout the meat instead of pooling in one place during cooking.

How long should you wait? That depends on how much rareness or doneness you want (or need). If your pan-fried steak needs more pink coloration, for example, if it was served too well done at dinner and had dried out by lunchtime tomorrow, then a few hours might be necessary depending on whether or not the pan-fried steak has reached room temperature first. Remember — when pan-frying steaks, the pan should be hot enough that it will sear evenly without any need to baste.

Hot Steak Is Tasty Steak

A steak is a small piece of meat that needs an attentive cook to prevent it from overcooking, which makes carryover cooking difficult. Attempts at shielding the steak during cooking are likely to result in steaks losing temperature and becoming relatively rigid. There is an immense deal of pleasure to eating a hot steak – the crust is still amazingly crisp, the butter dripping from cooking is still warm and gives a different appetizing smell, and the juices that pool on your plate can be licked up with taste.

When a steak is rested, it loses some of its natural juices. The difference in juiciness and tenderness between the two is negligible, so I prefer to pan-fry my steak to medium doneness because that way, I get everything the perfect-cooked juicy flavor with none of the bad stuff (ahem, carcinogens).

If you need a few minutes to make a pan sauce or sauté some spinach in the still-hot pan, then go ahead and let your steak rest. If you followed all the other hallmarks of this recipe — purchasing an excellent cut of meat, seasoning well before cooking it at high heat, and following our instructions — then you already did all the essential things to make a fantastic steak. Now you’ll have a perfect steak with delicious pan sauce!

Across the Grain

For pan-frying steak, it’s important to cut across the grain of the meat.

The Grain provides a textural contrast that is sometimes quite desirable in pan-fried steak (especially if you want “fork tender” filet mignon), but more often than not, cutting along the natural lines that run perpendicular to one another will give way to a better cooked and much easier chewed dish.

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