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Forget Everything You Know About Cooking A Great Steak

Forget Everything You Know About Cooking A Great Steak
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This cooking method is totally unorthodox. But the results were the best steak we’ve had in ages.

We love a great steak. One that has a deeply browned crust on the outside and a true rosy medium-rare inside.  We like New York Strip best for its marbling and great beefy flavor.  That is precisely what we got following a recipe by Andrew Janjigian in Cook’s Illustrated’s latest issue. I had to wait until after Easter to post it. But if you are a carnivore, absent your outdoor grill, I think you’ll want to cook it this way from now on. And we didn’t even have turn on the exhaust fan.

Desperation is the mother of this invention.

A must for this recipe. A digital thermometer. Mine’s a Hojan purchased on Amazon.com

Like everyone else in New York, we’re confined to our apartment and have been for days on end.  The one thing I do not cook here is steak. Every attempt set off the smoke alarms so ferociously, we’ve had neighbors knock on the door asking if we are okay.  So I gave up. Just about a year ago, Andrew and I moved down a floor in the same building where we’ve lived for over 25 years. We love our building—its location and the service we get here. In truth, our previous apartment dated from the 60s. And I mean dated. So we were delighted to move into a place that had been top-to-bottom renovated just a couple of years ago. It must have been in the years when ‘loft-like’ was a selling point. Because it has a wide-open living room and dining room and an open kitchen. And we love it. We just couldn’t cook steak in it.

Forget everything you thought you knew about stove-top steak cooking.

I can’t pretend to go into the science behind this recipe. I am not Alton Brown. I can tell you what Andrew Janjigian discovered. 1. Cook in a non-stick pan—not a cast-iron skillet or a stainless steel pan. The non-stick surface prevents the steaks from sticking without oil. 2. Don’t add any oil. That oil is what smokes and splatters at high temperatures. The two cuts we mentioned, New York Strip and Rib Eye are well-marbled and don’t need extra fat to brown them. They’ll release plenty of their own while cooking. 3. Do not pre-heat the skillet. What starting the steak ‘cold’ allows the interior to heat up gradually and evenly. 4. Start with high heat to drive off the moisture then lower it so that the interior and exterior finish cooking at the same time. 5. Flip the steak every 2 minutes. It will cook from the bottom up and the top down so the interior will be even all the way through and the crust will gradually build up.

Some final words of advice and you’ll be well on your way to your best stove-top steak ever.

Here is the recipe. Follow it and you will end up with a steak that looks and tastes just like ours. This recipe also works with boneless rib-eye steaks as long as they are at least 1 ½ inches thick.  I found that a 16 oz. New York Strip is a gracious plenty for two people. And you can see what one portion looks like when sliced. If you can, salt the steaks at least 45 minutes and up to 24 hours before you cook them. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of kosher salt over both sides. Refrigerate the steak and pat them dry with a paper towel before cooking. Finally, if you want to cook the perfect baked potato to serve with your perfectly cooked steak, follow the link below.



The Perfect Baked Potato from America’s Test Kitchen

Perfect Stove Top Pan-Seared Strip Steak

April 23, 2020
: 4
: Easy

The perfect technique for pan-searing Strip Steaks without setting off the Smoke Alarm.


  • Nonstick skillet
  • Meat Thermometer
  • 2 (16 oz.) boneless strip steaks, 1 ½ inch thick, trimmed
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • Step 1 Pat steaks dry with a paper towel and sprinkle both sides with pepper. Place steaks 1 inch apart in a cold nonstick skillet. Place skillet over high heat and cook steaks for 2 minutes. Flip steaks and cook on the second side for 2 minutes. (Neither side will be browned at this point.)
  • Step 2 Flip steaks, reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, flipping steaks every two minutes until browned and the meat measures 120 to 125 degrees for medium-rare, 4 to 10 minutes longer. Steaks should be sizzling gently, if not, increase the heat slightly. Reduce heat if the skillet starts to smoke.
  • Step 3 Transfer steaks to a carving board and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice steaks, season with coarse or flake sea salt to taste. Serve.

20 thoughts on “Forget Everything You Know About Cooking A Great Steak”

  • I”m going to trust Monte on this method because he uses the same flipping technique for a pork chop and those are delicious. I don’t have a thermometer so I will have to keep a closer eye on the meat temp. But, I’ll let you know how it turns out. My smoke alarm in my apartment not only screeches to high heaven but also has a voice repeating “Fire, Fire, Fire.” Looking forward to not freaking out my neighbors.

      • Perfecto! Even without thermometer I was able to cook a bone in rib eye to medium rare and no smoke alarm with so much less smoke in the apartment. I did wonder, since your recipe discussed a boneless cut of meat, whether there are any additional considerations when cooking steak with the bone in? You advice is always so helpful , easy to follow and understand and the results always play out just as you describe.

        • A very interesting question. I can’t say that I have the answer at the moment. But I will check and promise to get back to you. So happy you (and your smoke alarm) liked your steak. XOXO Monte

  • Tried this method on a 16 oz strip steak tonight. No thermometer, just flipping every 2 minutes. The fat rendered well and I cooked the steak just north of medium rare, it was absolutely delicious even with just salt, pepper, and celery leaves. Couldn’t avoid the smoke, but there was definitely less than there would be with oil. I think I’ll be pan searing steaks more often.

    • Dear Craig, it was the biggest surprise of 2020–a year that’s been full of them! I find that if you trim the fat as much as you can, you can avoid the smoke issue. We have an open kitchen in New York and the smoke alarms have been a problem. But I’ve used this method and gotten to where the vent in the range is able to handle what smoke there is. Thanks so much for writing. I truly appreciate it.

    • Hi Jason! Here is the temperature chart we use…
      Steak temperature chart
      Steak Doneness
      Temperature (°F) Temperature (°C)
      Bleu Steak 110°F 43°C
      Rare Steak 120–130°F 49–54°C
      Medium Rare Steak 130–135°F 54–57°C
      Medium Steak 135–145°F 57–63°C
      Medium Well Steak 145–155°F 63–68°C
      Well Done Steak 155°F and up 68°C and up

      If you would like to know why, here’s a link that explains it all…https://blog.thermoworks.com/beef/steak-temps-getting-it-right/

      Bon Appetit!

  • I have a small (0.75lb) T-Bone I’m going to try cooking using this method. I have a charcoal grill on my patio but just not feeling all the work just to grill one small T-Bone.
    I’ll let you know how I make out.

    • I think you will be very pleased with the result. I quite agree. Setting up a grill for one piece of meat does sound like a lot of work. Do let us know how you made out. Bon Appetit!

    • If you have to grill.
      I recommend a hibachi much less trouble for those small cuts of meat/meals.
      Less charcoal/wood ,less trouble/time.
      Good for kabobs too.

  • I’ve always started steaks (when I don’t grill them) onnthe cooktop and then finished them at low heat in the oven. I look forward to eliminating a step. Having bone in rib eye for Christmas Eve supper.

    • Merry Christmas David! We look forward to hearing about your results. We think this is the ultimate way to cook steak and we’re delighted to hear you will try it. Regards, Monte and Andrew

    • Bonjour Jeanne, I hope you will enjoy this as much as we do. And please get back to us and tell us how it went. Thanks for taking the time to write. Bon
      Appetit! Monte

  • Well, I’m converted! Tried this tonight on a 15 Oz bone in strip steak and it came out beautifully with minimal smoke. I flipped it a total of 3 times on each side for 2 minutes each and it was a perfect medium rare. I did finish it with a big pat of butter though…I just couldn’t help myself. Thanks so much!

    • Dear Denie, So very happy to hear that your strip steak was a success. It’s vital that you use this recipe with a cut of meat that has a medium to high fat count. This is not a recipe for Filet Mignon which is virtually fat free and has no fat to release into the pan. Bon Appetit! Monte

    • Dear Heather, I am so sorry to hear that. As you can see, this recipe is a huge success and actually has had over 10,000 hits. I would suggest that Filet is not a cut to use with this technique. It really needs the fat of the New York Strip. I urge you to try it again using just such a piece of meat. Bon Appetit. Monte

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