Mar 21, 2022

A Perfectly Fine Ungrilled Steak

I do all my grilling in California, where I have an embarrassment of grills. The last time I lit up a charcoal grill on my fire escape in Manhattan, the fire department arrived, with a shiny red ladder truck, a pumper truck, and a red officer's car. They always come in battalion strength in Manhattan, because we live so close to one another here. The firemen were very large, and they came up the back stairs in full uniform, carrying oxygen tanks and huge axes, looking for a fire or a fight.

The next time, instead of grilling, I used a method I had learned in France:



Remove the 2-1/2- to 3-inch steak(s) from the refrigerator, cut off most of the external fat, rub it with a little olive oil and then with ample salt and pepper, and bring to room temperature for 2 hours or more. In a cast-iron pan or large heavy-bottomed sauté pan, heat 6 tablespoons of butter (3/4 stick, most of which remains in the pan) over medium-high heat, add the steak and, moving it from time to time, sauté until a firm, dark brown crust forms on the bottom, about 7 minutes; turn and repeat on the other side, spooning some of the cooking butter over the steak from time to time. Keep the heat high enough so that the butter sizzles nicely; it should brown but not blacken.

After 5 minutes, start taking the meat's temperature. Insert an instant-read meat thermometer midway into the edge of the steak and slide it into the center of the largest muscle. The temperature should read about 85°F to 90°F (30°C to 32°C). Remove the thermometer. Set the steak on a rack over a skillet or baking pan and into the preheated 325°F (160°C)F oven until the temperature rises to about 110°F (43°C). Let the steak rest outside the oven, on the rack, for 10 minutes as the juices reposition themselves and the internal temperature rises to 120°F (49°C) or a little higher.

Thus, with little effort, you can achieve a beautifully crisp, reddish-brown, and extremely savory crust and a perfectly rare-to-medium-rare interior.

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