“Have you ever been over to a friends house to eat and food just ain’t no good?” Yes, yes Wonder Mike we have. We all have. Sometimes the macaroni is soggy, and the peas are mush…but often the steak, pork, lamb, veal, whatever the meat is, is rubbery, overcooked, undercooked, or is lacking that perfect sear on the outside that a great piece of meat deserves. Sure, we all can’t have 900 degree restaurant broilers, and for some city dwellers a grill is not an option, but that excuse isn’t going to fly anymore. Follow our steps for perfectly seared meat, indoors, each and every time.
Step 1: Bring your meat to room temperature
This is a necessary step to getting a perfect sear. If your meat is cold, or partially frozen, moisture will evaporate during the cooking process and your meat will steam (essentially, we’re not Bill Nye over here). This will lead to a grey steak totally void of that classic outer char we are going for.
Step 2: Dry your meat
Like Step 1, moisture is bad. Your meat needs to be completely dry. Grab some paper towels and swaddle that meat like a baby. As it sits, uncovered, on your counter to bring to room temperature, some moisture may continue to come off. Always give it another dry prior to cooking.
Step 3: Stop poking, scoring, stabbing your meat
What your mother told you as a child still stands – leave that thing alone. Any breaking of the meat will result in it’s juices leaving the steak during the cooking process. You want those to stay inside.
Exception: You may score the outer fat rim. This allows the fat edge to crisp up and prevents the meat from curling. (Think bacon in a frying pan. It curls because the fat running through it constricts under heat).
Step 4: Season (don’t marinade) properly and lightly
The ribeye, pork chop, lamb, what-have-you, is delicious on it’s own when cooked properly. Never marinade if you are going for a perfect sear. The sugars in the marinade will caramelize quickly and start to burn on the outside before the meat is close to being cooked.
We prefer salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder for steaks. Apply to a dry steak and pat into the meat. No need to add oil prior to seasoning. For pork chops, we like French herbs. Lamb, we prefer rosemary, thyme, garlic and onion powder, mustard powder, paprika, and oregano.
Step 5: Don’t jump the gun
For a perfect indoor sear, you really need a cast iron skillet. Heat the skillet on medium-high (until wisps of smoke appear). On a range setting of 1-10, I would select 8. Wait until you see the wisps of smoke, turn on the vent hood, open a window, and place the meat on the skillet. It will smoke, be warned.
A cast iron skillet will last forever, and become more seasoned with age. To clean, simply let cool, wipe the inside with a damp rag. Once dry, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to skillet, take a paper towel and rub the oil around inside the pan. Store as you would other pans.
Step 6: Leave it alone
Don’t poke it or move it. Wait 5-6 minutes per side for a 1.5-2 inch thick piece of meat for medium-rare. Flip it once. It should flip easily with a proper sear on the opposite side.
If the meat is very thick, or you prefer a medium-well done piece of meat, after you flip it, wait three minutes then place in a 350 degree oven for an additional 5-6 minutes.
Step 7: Let is rest
After you have cooked the meat for 5-6 minutes on each side (or finished in the oven) remove it from the pan, place on a cutting board, and let it rest for at least 10 minutes or more depending on thickness. The meat will continue to cook as it rests. Resting also locks in the juices so they should not run when sliced.
Step 8: Slice, serve, enjoy
Slice the meat against the grain, add rock salt or salt from a grinder if you wish. Enjoy.
Follow these eight easy steps for a perfectly cooked piece of meat every time.