How to Cook Steak in a Frying Pan
It is O.K to fry a steak! Searing tender meats is actually an age old, refined process that has its routes in haut cuisine, so contrary to popular (USA) belief, frying steak as appose to barbecuing it, in many respects, is often the preferred method.
1- Prepare your steak and bring to room temperature. Steak should be cooked from room temperature so be sure to remove it from the fridge in good time before cooking. Depending on the cut and quality of the meat depends on its treatment before hand: should it be of rough quality from a lesser cut, it may require tendering by wrapping in a towel of plastic and softening through kneading or hitting with a rolling pin. A prime cut should be left alone. Rinse the meat in cold water and pat dry. Again, depending on the quality of the cut, rub salt and pepper into the meat.
2- Prepare the pan and get it as hot as you can. Heavy pans will hold a higher heat and so are preferable. Regardless of the level of cooking preferred (rare, medium etc), the pan needs to be as hot as you can possibly get it before adding the meat in order to sear the outside to retain moisture. Once you are satisfied with the heat of the pan, add either high quality butter or an oil of your choice (depending on whether you’re watching your cholesterol and saturated fat levels or not). You only want a thin layer of lubrication on the pan.
3- As soon as the pan and oil/butter is back up to heat, add your steak and step back to avoid being ‘spat’ on. Turn on the extractor fan and open any windows as the searing of the steak in butter will create a high level of smoke.
4- Should you be confident with the quality of the meat and have bought it from a reputable source, steak served ‘blue’ (Seared on the outside, red in the middle yet hot all of the way through) is the preferred way to serve high quality steak. Lesser cuts should be cooked for longer in order to help tenderise, however anything cooked over ‘rare’ will require the heat to be turned down once the outside has been seared (the outside layer being a brown crust and firm to the touch, yet easier to pierce with a knife). Flip only once. In my opinion it is a shame to cook steak more than ‘medium’ i.e. just on the brown side on the inside rather than pink, as the steak will dry out. Testing should be done by touch (a rarer steak will be softer to the touch beyond the seared outside)
5- Post treat the meat; let it rest. Dab off with a paper towel and cover in foil to retain the heat whilst allowing the juices to settle. You may wish to make a sauce out of the juice from the pan or simply drizzle over the top of the steak once served.
6- Should you wish to make a sauce out of the juice left in the pan, keep on a low heat and add ingredients. First remove any charred residue, and perhaps add stock, garlic, shallots, a choice of herbs, more seasoning and a little single cream.
Always check with your guests how they like their steaks to be cooked, and learn the difference in the feel of different levels of cooked meat.
You are dealing with a very hot pan so be careful with handling!