A nicely cooked steak has to be on the Mount Rushmore of culinary show-stoppers. It’s simple, it’s classic, and it can be a difficult feat to pull off well. Steaks can be cooked every which way, but one of the most satisfying methods out there is pan-searing and butter-basting a thick-cut rib eye. Basting involves continuously spooning hot fat over an item that is being cooked. Basting while searing means the steak cooks from both top and bottom simultaneously, which in turn can speed up cooking time. Another technique that can speed up cooking — and one that flies in the face of convention—is repeatedly flipping the steak throughout the searing process. I highly recommend checking out J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s testing on continuous flipping over at Serious Eats, in which he tests out the technique pioneered by Harold McGee.
While not very time consuming, this is a recipe from Cook's Science that calls for your full attention in order to be successful. We’ve added auditory cues along with our usual visual cues and we recommend cooking with your phone nearby so you can listen as you cook. The sound of the steak hitting the pan is important — it changes depending on the temperature, and you want it to be hot. Paying attention to the sounds that are happening on your stovetop will make you a better cook, and sizzling steak sounds pretty delicious.
Butter-Basted Rib-Eye Steak
Serves 2 to 3
1 (1-pound) rib-eye steak, about 1½ inches thick
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large shallot, peeled and quartered lengthwise (root end attached)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1. Sprinkle steak evenly on both sides with salt and place on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Let sit for at least 45 minutes or up to 3 hours.
2. Heat oil in 10-inch skillet over high heat until just smoking. Pat steak dry with paper towels and season liberally on both sides with pepper. Place steak in skillet and cook for 30 seconds. Flip steak and continue to cook for 30 seconds longer. Continue flipping steak every 30 seconds for 3 more minutes.
3. Slide steak to back of skillet, opposite handle, and add butter to front of skillet. Once butter has melted and begun to foam, add shallots, garlic, and thyme sprigs. Holding skillet handle, tilt skillet so butter pools near base of handle. Use metal spoon to continuously spoon butter and aromatics over steak, concentrating on areas where crust is less browned. Baste steak, flipping it every 30 seconds, until steak registers 120 degrees F/49 degrees C, 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Remove skillet from heat and transfer steak to cutting board; let steak rest for 10 minutes. Discard aromatics from pan and transfer butter mixture to small bowl. Slice steak crosswise ½ inch thick. Serve immediately with butter mixture.
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