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The Best Way to Cook a Thick Steak


Fat Guy
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Yes I think we need Lobel's to send over a bunch more of those steaks so we can do a comparison across all methods.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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We had prime rib from the grocery store for today's Sunday dinner, and I was influenced by thoughts of the techniques shown here and this butter crust method.

I browned the outside surfaces with butter on the stove, then finished the beef in the oven with the help of a thermometer. It was very delicious -- all the butter was used to soften onions and mushrooms before adding tawny port.

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Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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I tried it on 1-1/2" thick pork chops. Since I was going for medium, I used lower heat, and cooked for about 14 minutes on a side.

They were great, but not noticeably different from my usual method, which is to brown on high heat and then allow to finish cooking on very low while covered, basting in butter (similar to how I do steak, but the final cooking is lower, slower, and usually covered).

The one significant advantage to this method was being able to brown in butter on both sides. The minor advantage was being able to use rendered fat for the initial cooking, instead of oil.

Notes from the underbelly

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I tried it on 1-1/2" thick pork chops. Since I was going for medium, I used lower heat, and cooked for about 14 minutes on a side.

They were great, but not noticeably different from my usual method, which is to brown on high heat and then allow to finish cooking on very low while covered, basting in butter (similar to how I do steak, but the final cooking is lower, slower, and usually covered).

The one significant advantage to this method was being able to brown in butter on both sides. The minor advantage was being able to use rendered fat for the initial cooking, instead of oil.

I'll be trying this method out on thick pork chops soon, the freezer is full of the stuff.

I really liked the non-charred crust on the beef, even though I rushed it a bit. Patience is very important, and keeping an eye on temperature so nothing turns black. I was shooting for the raw side of burnt sienna and got there without changing the butter.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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I tried this method over the weekend on a gorgeous 1.5 inch thick boneless sirloin strip steak. Came out quite good, though I think I do prefer the flavor you get from a grill over the pan method. This is great for cold-weather, though it did make the house stink of beef fat a bit.

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That's a good point. The reason I rarely cook steaks in the apt anymore is due to the smell/smoke involved with high heat searing (I find that sliding in the oven as soon as possible helps here).

FG - How does the family (or in my case a wife that doesn't like me stinking up the whole apt with smoke) feel about the smell with this longer method vs. a shorter high heat sear & roast?

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The oven methods are best for containing vaporized grease, which I believe is the main culprit when it comes to lingering odors. However, as between low heat and high, you will find that there's less vaporized grease and splatter with lower, slower cooking.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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It should also be mentioned that Steven (and probably many other eG members -- but, alas, not I) has a powerful externally-vented hood over his stove. That makes a huge difference when it comes to lingering cooking odors from vaporized grease, because the aromatic grease is sucked up the hood and vented away before it has a chance to stink up the place.

--

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"because the aromatic grease is sucked up the hood and vented away "

Actually most of these hoods and ducting arrangements have grease traps where the radial velocity imparted by the fan or fans causes the grease intrained in the air to deposit. These 'traps' must be periodically cleaned or a fire could occur. Inspection of the duct work periodically should also be done.

I have Viking dual fan unit and inspect/clean at least two times a year.-Dick

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Well, I tried the method this weekend and it was a dismal failure. I think in part my steak was a bit too thin, but also, even though I had the burner on something closer to low than medium, it was still too hot. I think I'll have to tweak my methods further.

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I tried this tonight. We had two boneless ribeyes, probably two inches thick at the minimum (six bucks a pound at Costco). We cooked one in a cast iron skillet, the other in a copper sauteuse. The cast iron ran a bit hot, but the copper pan maintained a steady low-medium. Since the “steaks” were so thick, we finished them in a 170F oven for about 15 minutes.

Call us philistines if you must, but the whole family preferred our usual approach: briefly marinate steak with soy sauce, garlic, and black pepper; sear over a hot grill; and finish in a cool oven. We enjoyed the experiment, though, and to be fair, little remained of 4.5 pounds of ribeye.

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Here's another take on cooking a thick steak. Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck.

This link takes you to a BBC recipe page. The recipe is abbreviated, but you can get the idea.

Brown the outside with a blow torch, then cook a 55 degrees C for 20 hours.

What the recipe doesn't say, but what he did on the TV show was to cut the steak into about 1 inch slices after it came out of the oven then fry it in a very very hot pan very briefly, just enough to form a crust.

Has anybody tried this?

PS: interestingly he tested steaks from 6 different breeds of cattle. Long horn came out on top. This was in the UK where thew beef is grass fed.

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Here's another take on cooking a thick steak. Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck.

This link takes you to a BBC recipe page. The recipe is abbreviated, but you can get the idea.

Brown the outside with a blow torch, then cook a 55 degrees C for 20 hours.

What the recipe doesn't say, but what he did on the TV show was to cut the steak into about 1 inch slices after it came out of the oven then fry it in a very very hot pan very briefly, just enough to form a crust.

Has anybody tried this?

PS: interestingly he tested steaks from 6 different breeds of cattle. Long horn came out on top. This was in the UK where thew beef is grass fed.

He gets the beef from Richard vaughan at Huntsham farms and I can vouch for how nice it is!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Yeah, I did that. 1.75" 21 day age boneless shell steak. 3 hours @131F in S-V. Then finished by following FG's method of medium heat, and going fat strip first. This I just left on for as long as I felt it was needed, since it wasn't really cooking the steak any. Then I switched to the presentation side, but didn't go the full 10 minutes cause I was worried about overcooking. I actually brushed the pan and steak with avocado oil first before throwing knobs of butter into the pan and basting at medium-high heat.

On the second side, I only left it a minute or so, removing it cause I didn't want to move beyond the medium rare.

Worked beautifully, although I'm not a good photog:

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The steak out of the pan, resting.

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On the plate.

Takes about a minute for the meat to turn red, was worried when I first cut into the meat cause it was brown. But after oxygen get's to it, it goes rosey. I feel I can actually leave the steak in the pan for a little longer next time, cause I gave the meat a long enough rest out of the bag that it was fine to push it a little harder than I did, for an even nicer crust.

I'm pretty certain I'll be going this route in the future, assuming I have 3+ hours to do it of course. I'm not one to allow myself to eat the fat rim, but if I was (or if I snuck a bite)... man, that fat is (theoretically) good eats after SV, the third through fifth pieces above show it quite nicely.

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  • 1 month later...

I am a true believe that the perfect steak is rare or medium rare. Anything beyond that is cooked improperly. That being said, using this method for grilling a steak can improve steaks cooked beyond medium rare as well.

My favorite steak of all time is the bone in ribeye and that is exactly what I cooked for this meal. This particular steak was indeed a monster. I put my cell phone into the picture for reference. My cell phone is a standard Motorola Razr.

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Another angle to get the idea of the shear size of this thing

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The steak will sit out for about an hour to come up to room temperature. I'm not sure as to the science behind it, but I never throw a cold steak onto a blazing hot fire. I'm not kidding when I say blazing. You'll see that in a bit.

All I did was add a little coarse salt and fresh cracked black pepper to this bad boy. To some this is all one needs. Normally I marinade my steaks, even filets. The key is using the right kind of marinade for the right kind of cut. But for this one, and for my first demonstration here I went with a simple, almost pure steak.

The real trick to cooking the perfect steak is two zone cooking. Coals on one side. Nothing on the other. Sear the outside on each side to form a nice crust to seal the juices in, then pull off the heat to the side with no coals, put the lid on and bake till desired doneness.

And when I say sear, I really mean sear. I don't jerk around with searing. I get the coals flaming hot and then I pour on some sort of veggie oil and flame sear my steaks. ***Disclaimer - I do not recommend doing this near siding, a wood deck or anything else that could melt or catch on fire. Also avoid doing this in high wind. I almost learned that one the hard way.

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To give you some perspective in the day light. Here is a picture of me grilling steaks at my folks this last Summer. This is the flame searing process and thus the necessity for the disclaimer:

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The hardest part is having the patience to let that expensive cut sit over those flames without flipping it. Sear for a 60 seconds and rotate 90 degrees and sear for another minute for nice grill marks. I don't really care about grill marks so I just sear it.

For this steak I seared it and then pulled it over to the side with no coals for maybe 5 minutes. Realize that this bad boy was close to 24 ounces. Smaller steaks (and more importantly thinner steaks ) will take less time to bake to the desired doneness.

Now comes a very critical step. Resting. You just created a nice crust to seal the juices in. You just pulled that steak off a hot grill. Those juices are in a very excited state. They are moving a million miles an hour inside that steak. If you slice it now all the juices will run out before you get to your 3rd bite. So for all of you who use a big grill fork to flip steaks, throw those steaks and the fork in the trash and get a good set of tongs.

The ideal resting place would be on a cooling rack for cookies so that the juice that does leak out (and there always will be just a little) will not soak through the crust on the bottom. I'm not that anal. I just put it on a plate to rest. More perspective on the size of this thing. It is resting on a standard size Fiestaware dinner plate.

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A steak of this size needs to rest about 5 minutes. It should rest long enough to allow the juices to settle down but not too long so that it gets cold. Just till those all important juices calm down.

Those of you who are not fans of rare or medium rare steaks usually get to this point and assume that the blood and juice is going to leak all over the plate when I slice it open. I will prove you wrong with what I like to call the money shot

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And here's an even closer view of the money shot

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Normally I like my steaks just a little redder than that, but this thing was so huge that I baked it for a little longer than it probably needed. Despite that, it was juicy and delicious from the first bite to the last. And to the detriment to my arteries, I ate the whole thing....

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I thought flames were to be avoided for both flavour and health reasons. Any comments on that?

Some say that too much charring can lead to stomach cancer. What doesn't lead to cancer? Also, the point is to get a sear and not a char.

As for flavor and flames, I gotta say I have never heard that one before....

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I thought flames were to be avoided for both flavour and health reasons. Any comments on that?

Some say that too much charring can lead to stomach cancer. What doesn't lead to cancer? Also, the point is to get a sear and not a char.

As for flavor and flames, I gotta say I have never heard that one before....

It would depend on what CAUSED the flames, I believe; if the flame up is due to lighter fluid, yeah, the flame would impart a nasty taste to the meat. Since you used a neutral vegetable oil, I don't think it would leave an 'off' flavor.

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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