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How to Cook a Perfect Steak

How to Pan Sear Steak Like a Complete Badass

Steak! We love to go out for it, but cooking it at home is another tale. What temperature is medium-rare again? Gah, what does it take to achieve the perfect sear? If you're guilty of searching the web every time you're suddenly inspired to retry cooking a filet, this recipe is for you. It comes from Cook's Illustrated. Instead of pan searing the steak first, then finishing it in the oven, the CI team recommends the opposite. Slow roast the steak in the oven at a low temperature, then sear it over the stove-top for the last few minutes. The results are killer. Go forth and impress yourself and then everyone else who gets to eat one of your juicy, perfectly cooked steaks.

Pan Seared Thick-Cut Strip Steaks

From Cook's Illustrated


Rib-Eye Steaks: Buy two thick steaks, and cut each in half.

Filet Mignon: Cut 2-pound roast into four steaks and press each piece to flatten.

Strip Steaks: Buy two thick steaks and cut each in half.

Rib-eye or filet mignon of similar thickness can be substituted for strip steaks. If using filet mignon, buying a one-kilo centre-cut tenderloin roast and portioning it into four 225-gram steaks yourself will produce more consistent results. If using filet mignon, increase the oven time by about 5 minutes. When cooking lean strip steaks (without an external fat cap) or filet mignon, add an extra tablespoon of oil to the pan. If desired, serve with a pan sauce, relish, or butter.

How to Cook a Perfect Steak


  1. 2 boneless strip steaks, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 inches thick, about half a kilo each (see note above)
    Kosher salt and ground black pepper
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 118°C. Pat steaks dry with paper towel. Cut each steak in half vertically to create four 8-ounce steaks. Season entire surface of steaks liberally with salt; gently press sides of steaks until uniform 1 1/2 inches thick. Place steaks on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet; transfer baking sheet to oven. Cook until instant-read thermometer inserted in centre of steak registers 32 to 35°F for rare to medium rare, 20 to 25 minutes, or 37 to 40 °C for medium, 25 to 30 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat until smoking. Place steaks in skillet and sear steaks until well-browned and crusty, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, lifting once halfway through to redistribute fat underneath each steak. (Reduce heat if fond begins to burn.) Using tongs, turn steaks and cook until well browned on second side, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer all steaks to wire cooling rack and reduce heat under pan to medium. Use tongs to stand 2 steaks on their sides. Holding steaks together, return to skillet and sear on all sides until browned, about 1 1/2 minutes. Repeat with remaining 2 steaks.
  3. Transfer steaks to wire cooling rack and let rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10 minutes while preparing pan sauce. Arrange steaks on individual plates, spoon sauce over steaks, and pepper to your liking; serve immediately.

More stories from Cook's Illustrated:

Pan Seared Flank Steak With Sriracha-Lime Butter

Making Cheap Steak Tender (With Your Knife)

Equipment Review: Steak Knives

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Anna Monette Roberts
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