The Perfect Steak in Your Home Oven
For the longest time, I always believed that steak was better eaten at restaurants than at home. The secret in restaurants is high-heat cooking. You see, commercial restaurant ovens and stoves can generate higher temperatures than the one in your home.
Of course, you can broil. This does get the high heat, but always seems to come out too burned on the outside and too undercooked on the inside. There is, too, the grill, but not everyone owns one (including myself) and it's hard to control the heat and keep it consistent (not to mention the fact that those blackened grill marks are carcinogenic).
Here is the way to make the perfect steak using your stovetop and oven. The method outlined below will give you enough steak for two people. See the section below, “How Not to Screw it Up,” for more tips.
- 2 steaks—filet mignon or new york strips
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- 1 small pat of butter
Yes, folks that is really all you need. Trust me. Anything else just takes away from the flavor of a good steak, and if you are starting with good steaks to begin with, they do not need adulterating.
- Place your steaks on the counter 20 minutes before cooking them. This gives them some time to come closer to room temperature. (Don’t worry, we’re cooking them at 500 degrees for enough time to kill any bacteria.)
- Place a skillet in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees. When the oven reaches 500, leave it for about 10 minutes. This lets the skillet really soak in the heat.
- Remove the skillet to the stovetop on high heat (but don't turn the oven off—you'll use it again in a moment). Sear the steaks for 30 seconds on each side. This creates a brown crust that is the result of the amino acids forced by heat to react with the sugars—it infuses a lot of flavor.
- Move the steaks (pan and all) into the oven. Roast for 2 minutes for every inch the steak is thick. Set a timer. This is an exact science.
- After 2 minutes, flip the steaks and roast for 2 more minutes.
- Remove from the oven, then cover the pan with foil and let it sit for 2 minutes. The steaks will continue to cook.
- Serve with the very littlest pat of butter on the top of each steak (optional).
This method cooks the steaks to a perfect medium rare, assuming that you have a steak that is 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. For every 1/2 inch of steak, add another 30 seconds. To determine the exact doneness, use a probe-style meat thermometer and use the temperature guide below.
How Not to Screw It Up
- Steaks vary in thickness, you may not like medium rare, and all of these things contribute to how long you need to cook. The absolute best way to determine if your steaks are perfect inside is to get a problem style meat thermometer. That is, a thermometer that puts the probe into the meat, but allows you to have a display that is outside of the oven. Like the one suggested from Amazon below.
- If you are cooking with an electric stove top, make sure the burner is already heated to high before moving the pan from the oven. You don’t want to lose heat.
- I’ve found this method optimal for 2 steaks in a pan (3 if they are filet mignon). Any more than that, and you are crowding them out. If you are making more and need to work in batches, heat two pans when you preheat the oven. Leave one in while you start the first steaks. Complete the first ones through to the aluminum foil step before starting the next. If you make the steaks that need to be more well done first, they will continue cooking on the heat of the first pan while you finish off the second (and still be warm to serve).
How to Cook Your Steak to the Right Doneness
What is medium-rare, exactly? What if you want another degree of doneness?
Here is a chart that will help you get your beef (not just steak) to the right temperature.
Note: These temperatures are the final, resting temperature of beef. That means you need to remove beef from the heat source (i.e. oven or stove) a few degrees before it reaches the temperatures below as it will continue to cook and slowly rise in temperature as it sits.
How to Properly Check the Temperature
Insert an instant probe thermometer into the center of the thickest part of the steak. You should insert it at a slight angle. Do not insert it parallel to the counter surface, and do not insert it into the fat.
Beef Temperature and Doneness Guide
The steak is seared on the outside and warmed on the inside. The inside is red.
135F / 58C
This middle is pink and fades to brown nearer the surface
135-145F / 63C
The very inside is pink fading to grey-brown through the rest of the meat.
145-160F / 70C
The meat is mostly gray-brown with a hint of pink in the very center. The juiciness of the meat is greatly reduced at this level.
160-170F / 75C
The meat is gray-brown throughout. The juiciness is almost non-existent and may even be dry.
170+F / 75+C