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Recipe File: Grilled Porterhouse or T-Bone Steak
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bennett
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 12:12 am    Post subject: Re: can't get smooth brown on the outside and pink on the in Reply with quote

Thanks. To questions:
1) For an average-size cast iron pan on over high heat, how long does it take for it to get "really hot"? (I'm an engineer, not a cook Smile )
2) As a healthier substitute for butter, can I brush on olive/canola/flaxseed oil instead? (Weight Watchers lets you eat steak, you just can't put butter on it!)
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bennett
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 2:14 am    Post subject: 2 more questions: frozen steaks, and omaha steaks Reply with quote

Thanks for all these great tips. 2 more questions:
- Any experience ordering steaks by mail order from OmahaSteaks.com or similar companies? Do they taste noticeably better than what you can get in a grocery store?
- Do steaks, even the very high-quality ones, taste any different after they've been frozen and defrosted? I know that chicken and fish taste noticeably different after being frozen so good restaurants always serve them fresh. But I assume steaks taste the same, since even Omaha Steaks delivers theirs frozen.
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1629
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 4:22 am    Post subject: Re: can't get smooth brown on the outside and pink on the in Reply with quote

bennett wrote:
1) For an average-size cast iron pan on over high heat, how long does it take for it to get "really hot"? (I'm an engineer, not a cook Smile )

It depends on your stovetop. I'd say that after 5 full minutes of sitting on the flame (or heating element), it should be plenty hot. You can always fling some water on it as a test (wet you hand and flick it towards the pan so water droplets fall on it). If the water doesn't move - it's way too cold. If it sizzles away quickly - you're almost there (this is a good temperature for cooking just about everything else). If it jumps around like mad, throw on the steak.

bennett wrote:
2) As a healthier substitute for butter, can I brush on olive/canola/flaxseed oil instead? (Weight Watchers lets you eat steak, you just can't put butter on it!)

Yeah, sure. You'll lose out on the flavor though. What is the rationale of allowing oils and not butter? Same number of calories for a given quantity (in fact, butter is a little less because it's not 100% fat).

bennett wrote:
Any experience ordering steaks by mail order from OmahaSteaks.com or similar companies? Do they taste noticeably better than what you can get in a grocery store?
- Do steaks, even the very high-quality ones, taste any different after they've been frozen and defrosted?

My personal experience is limited since Omaha steaks is so expensive, but the only time I tested their product it was pretty good but not as good as the natural rib eye I get from Whole Foods (not even the dry aged stuff). My personal feeling is that either Omaha Steaks is all marketing or the freezing process does detract from their product. They use a flash freezing process which is different from home freezing which will definitely affect the texture and eventually the flavor of beef.
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bennett
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 12:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I got a cast iron pan and put it on a burner over high heat for 5 minutes. Then when attempting to cook the steak, I couldn't even put olive oil into the pan without it evaporating before the steak hit it. When the steak hit the pan it burned completely black around the edges in less than a minute.

I'm guessing I'll have to experiment with this for a while to find the right heat level to cook the steak brown but not black! Hope someone can chime in with some experience on this specifically. I see people posting about going through 100 steaks to get their technique right!
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1629
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 12:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bennett wrote:
Well I got a cast iron pan and put it on a burner over high heat for 5 minutes. Then when attempting to cook the steak, I couldn't even put olive oil into the pan without it evaporating before the steak hit it. When the steak hit the pan it burned completely black around the edges in less than a minute.


Yeah, I think I might not have mentioned that you do not want to put oil in the pan for this method. Sorry.

So, start off by salting your steak. Leave it out with sprinkled kosher salt on it surface for about 15 minutes. Then slap it on the cast iron pan. The water drawn up to the surface will evaporate quickly and might look like it's shooting off like steam rockets horizontally. Before it blackens (which sounds like is one minute), flip it over. Once you get the brown crust that you want, you might have to finish the steak in the oven (at 350°F) to bring the internal temperature up to the desired level.

If you're getting uneven patterns (not evenly browning/blackening Smile ), the heat might be too strong. Reduce and try again. I think we can nail this down in less than 10 steaks...

Sorry about that last burnt one.
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bennett
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 8:21 am    Post subject: seasoning before searing in a pan? Reply with quote

Thanks so much for all the tips! Another quick question if you've got time:

I assume that if you're pan-searing the stake, you should rub the seasoning (not the salt you're talking about, but the actual seasoning) on the steak after searing it? And that if the steak comes from the store with seasoning already rubbed on it, that searing it in the pan wouldn't work? This seems to burn the seasoning to a bitter flavor on any heat that's high enough to sear the steak.

I see a lot of posts saying "season before searing!" "season after searing!" "great taste!" "less filling!" "Windows!" "Macintosh!" But I assume that even the season-before-searing camp are only talking about steaks seared on a grill -- even they would presumably not advise seasoning a steak before searing it in a pan, if the seasoning gets burned?

So I assume if it comes like that from the store, I'd have to broil it or grill it.
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1629
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 4:47 pm    Post subject: Re: seasoning before searing in a pan? Reply with quote

bennett wrote:
I assume that if you're pan-searing the stake, you should rub the seasoning (not the salt you're talking about, but the actual seasoning) on the steak after searing it? And that if the steak comes from the store with seasoning already rubbed on it, that searing it in the pan wouldn't work? This seems to burn the seasoning to a bitter flavor on any heat that's high enough to sear the steak.

In the case where the steak is preseasoned, you'll have to use a lower temperature technique (which means less of the meat will be medium-rare). We can still maximize the amount of medium-rare flesh in the middle though. You'll want to turn the heat down a bit and get the pan hot but not ridiculously so. Flinging some water onto the pan should result in a quick sizzle, but not the jumping and running around of the water pellets as before. This should be a temperature where the meat will still get seared, but not so high as to burn the seasoning too quickly. Give the steak a couple minutes on each side, and then measure the internal temperature with a fast reading meat thermometer by sticking it in through the side of the steak (the thin side, not the sides created by the butcher's cuts) into the thickest part of the muscle. This will give you an idea of how much warmer the steak will need to be. Stick the whole pan in a 300-350°F to finish the steak off evenly.
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bennett
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 11:19 pm    Post subject: heating pan in the oven also worked for me Reply with quote

Following this recipe:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_99,00.html
I was able to get the steak to come out nice and evenly brown by heating the cast iron pan in the oven at 500 degrees, then putting it on a burner at high heat and using it to cook the steak.

Maybe when I was just heating the pan on the burner, it wasn't getting all the way to 500 degrees the way it does in the oven. I was mildly curious about testing the temperature of the pan after heating on the burner vs. after heating inside the oven, to see if that was what made the difference, but apparently you need something like this:
http://www.cutleryandmore.com/details.asp?SKU=11740
to actually measure the surface temperature of the pan accurately, and it wasn't worth $70 to me just to solve that riddle, when I've found a way that works Smile

I have found though that this only works well with a steak where both sides are cut smoothly so that the entire side can be touching the pan. Any part that's not touching the pan doesn't get browned.
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eltonyo



Joined: 02 Nov 2005
Posts: 88
Location: WA

PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2006 1:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i thought i would give a true engineers response to this question. (it's only "true", because um... it is.)

* first of all, the t-bone and porter house have two very unsimilar cuts of meat on each side of the bone, and i would NOT recommend them for a uniform tasty steak. think new york strip, thick cut (just enough chew, with plenty of flavor, cheaper, and uniform in texture).

* corn fed beef, and nice cuts, make a difference, i travel to omaha (offutts afb) once a year, and nothing beats an omaha steak! (even if you know nothing about cooking steaks)

* if the steak is too rare, it will be chewey (and less tasty). a very hot smoking grill pan (pan frying), in my opinion, is still the best way to cook a steak. grilling will never give as good a sear as direct, heavy metal, cooking. i like pink versus red.... better taste.

* salt and pepper the hell out the steak before you cook it (carcinogens be damned)... and always let the steak reach room temperature before cooking.

* searing does NOT seal in juices. this is a myth. it instead makes the meat taste better (via maillard reaction, which is similar to caramelization in a carbohydrate).

* "resting" a steak is okay, but don't over do it. a few minutes is more than adequate. juices will be lost no matter what... ergo, let it rest in your plate!

* remember... the only thing that separates us from the animal kingdom, is our ability to cook. nothing else. Smile

p.s. nothing else! just cooking..... hehehee... and y'all thought that you were special with those developed monkey genes! (cough)... well ok, ok, ok.... we also have "poptarts". but obviously god helped us with that one.
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bennett
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 5:41 am    Post subject: time to bring to room temp, and amount of salt to use? Reply with quote

(Possibly) last questions Smile

I try to bring my steaks to room temperature before pan-broiling, like the instructions always say, but no matter how long I leave them out, they still feel cold. How long should this take? If it's important, should I even go so far as measuring their temperature with the meat thermometer to make sure they're at 70?

Also, how much kosher salt should go on each side beforehand? If possible, I mean measuring right down to the teaspoon per square inch of surface -- let's say a steak is 2 inches by 4 inches on each side, would one teaspoon divided between the two sides be enough?

Mine are still not coming out that great and I just want to keep eliminating possible sources of error one at a time.
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bennett
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 6:24 am    Post subject: also, how much canola/olive oil? Reply with quote

Also, just for my sanity, how much canola/olive oil goes on each side of the steak? 1 tablespoon per side, 1 tablespoon split between the two sides? Again if it's about 2 inches by 4 inches of surface on each side.
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1629
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 5:29 pm    Post subject: Re: time to bring to room temp, and amount of salt to use? Reply with quote

bennett wrote:
I try to bring my steaks to room temperature before pan-broiling, like the instructions always say, but no matter how long I leave them out, they still feel cold. How long should this take?

Leave them out for about 1 hour. They will still be cold to the touch, but the temperature should have risen a fair amount. You don't actually want your steaks at 70°F unless you're dealing with london broil or other cuts that produce undesired flavors when heated too long.

bennett wrote:
Also, how much kosher salt should go on each side beforehand? ... how much canola/olive oil goes on each side of the steak?

Unfortunately, I brush on the fat (melted butter in my case), sprinkle kosher salt onto the surface of the steak with my fingers, and grind black peppercorns right onto the steak so I don't know the exact quantities I use. Seasoning is one of those areas where I feel it's not useful to be exact since the amount will vary every time you cook since the steaks vary in size, thickness, and quality. I would estimate that I use a little more than a tablespoon of fat for both sides and about 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt on each side of the steak and a similar amount of fresh ground black pepper. Maybe someone else has more exact instructions?
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GaryProtein



Joined: 26 Oct 2005
Posts: 535

PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 3:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why do you use kosher (large granule) salt rather than regular salt? isn't one gram of salt, one gram of salt?
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1629
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

GaryProtein wrote:
Why do you use kosher (large granule) salt rather than regular salt? isn't one gram of salt, one gram of salt?

True, one gram of salt is one gram of salt. But in this case, I am sprinkling it on the exterior of the steak (and not dissolving it in a sauce) so it is easier to handle and control the amount of kosher salt using fingers than granulated salt using your fingers. It's easier to gauge how much salt you've laid down and to control it's spread/distribution.
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bennett
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 4:50 am    Post subject: bringing to room temperature makes a difference! Reply with quote

I just tried a steak while allowing it to properly warm up to room temperature (sitting for an hour on the counter) for the first time. (Previously I had thought that leaving it out for 5 or 15 minutes was enough.)

This appears to have made a real difference -- following Alton Brown's instructions at
http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_99,00.html
I got a nice smooth brown on the outside, pink on the inside, and no black anywhere Smile

This wasn't a completely controlled experiment so there may have been something else I did differently this time that made a difference -- maybe salting the steak well in advance of when it touched the pan, or possibly it was because while the steak was on the pan, I was pushing down on it with the tongs to ensure that the bottom part of the steak got pressed evenly against the iron.

But as engineers know, once you get something working once, from there it's just tweaking Smile

Thank you Michael for your many helpful answers!
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