A Hot Pan Is Key

If there’s one cooking technique you should master and help you feel more confident in the kitchen, is learning how to pan sear meat. I recently showed Tim Urban, an American Idol finalist, how to do this on video while teaching him how to make my gluten-free, dairy-free Thai Beef Mango Salad:

Whether it be a steak or chicken breast, the steps are the same to achieve a tender and juicy cut of meat. Below are my top 8 cooking tips on how to prepare a great pan seared steak:

1. The only pieces of equipment you’ll need are an oven-proof heavy bottom saute pan and a set of tongs (without saying, a nice marbleized steak is essential with the ideal thickness anywhere from 1/2  to 2 inches).

2. Let the meat come to room temperature before searing – this allows for the meat to cook uniformly and prevents the grey ring around cold raw meat when the meat is sliced.

3. Preheat an oven to 450ºF – after searing the meat, you’ll place the pan with the steak into the oven. The searing creates a caramelized crust and the continued roasting in the oven brings the internal temperature of the meat to the desired doneness.

4. Let the pan heat up over medium-high heat – it’s essential that your pan is hot before you sear the meat. Once the pan is very hot ( can barely hold your hand above it), add 1 tablespoon of a high smoke point oil, like canola or safflower. This helps prevent the oil from while searing the meat.

5. Pat the meat dry and season with salt and pepper – this helps ensure that the meat doesn’t splatter when it hits the pan. Be careful not to over crowd the pan to prevent the meat from steaming vs. searing.

6. Don’t touch the meat once it’s searing – if the meat sticks…it’s not ready to be flipped. Once the meat is crisp and mahogany colored (approximately 2 to 3 minutes) use tongs to turn over the meat and sear on the other side. Try not to use a fork to pierce the meat and release the juices.

7. Test for whether the steak is at the desired doneness – use the touch test (check out my video). Transfer the pan with the steak directly from the burner to the oven. For medium rare, roast for 3 minutes. For medium – 5 minutes and well done – 7 minutes. Be careful when taking the pan out of the oven.

8. Let the meat rest for at least 10 minutes – use tongs to transfer the meat to a cutting board or platter to finish cooking. This will give time for the internal temperature to rise a few degrees and allow juices to redistribute from the outside of the meat to within.