Top | Sear, Sauce, and Serve
Sautéed Steaks and Chops
(recipe, Tony Rosenfeld)
Steakhouses are great, but needlessly expensive. You can go to a high-end butcher, pick up a fine cut, grab a nice bottle of wine, and use the savings toward flowers or chocolates or a college fund. And preparing that steak or chop like the pros is really quite easy: use high heat, season the meat well, don't fiddle with it much once it's in the pan, and you're there.
- 1½ lb. boneless or 2½ pounds bone-in steaks or chops, cut as you like (see Note)
- 1½ tsp. kosher salt
- ¾ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme or rosemary (optional)
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- Sear: Season the meat generously with salt and pepper and the herbs, if using. Let sit at room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes while the grill heats.
- Set a large, sturdy skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute, or until a droplet of water instantly evaporates once it hits the pan's surface. Heat the oil until it's shimmering hot and easily glides from one side of the pan to the other, about 1 minute. Set the meat in the pan, evenly spaced (there should be at least ½ inch on each side if possible) and cook, without touching, until it browns around its edges and easily releases from the pan when you lift up a corner, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium, flip, and cook the other side until browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Check for doneness: medium-rare beef or lamb should be just slightly firm to the touch and a reddish pink when you make a nick into a thicker piece (130 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), while medium-well pork should be medium-firm and just a little pink on the inside (about 145 degrees for medium well). Continue cooking and flipping until done to your liking.
- Sauce: Transfer the cooked meat to a plate, tent with foil, and make a pan sauce, if you like. (Even if you aren't making a pan sauce, you should use the flavorful caramelized crust left in the pan. Simply add ½ cup chicken broth, wine, or even water to the empty pan after sautéing, raise the heat to high, and cook, gently scraping the pan with a wooden spoon, until the liquid is reduced to just a couple of tablespoons and the caramelized crust has been incorporated into it. Drizzle onto the seared fare or whisk it right into the pan sauce if you prefer.) You can either drizzle the pan sauce over the cooked meat or return the meat to the pan and flip it a couple of times to reheat through.
- Serve: A good sautéed steak, like a strip or even a chuck eye, goes perfectly with a boozy pan sauce like the Brandy and Dried Cherry Pan Sauce or something rich like the White Truffle and Parmesan Cream. Serve with the Rosemary-Parmesan Mashed Yukon Potatoes and some sautéed broccoli rabe. The Warm Mint Pan Sauce will freshen up the gaminess of seared lamb chops, while the sweet fruitiness of the Apple Cider and Crisp Sage Pan Sauce is just the sort of sweet-and-sour partner for pork chops; serve with Roasted Yukon Potato Wedges with Bacon and Thyme and sautéed carrots.
Look for cuts between 1 and 1¼ inches which are thick enough to satisfy, but not so thick they take a while to cook or cook unevenly (also, the longer you sear, the more likely you are to smoke up the kitchen). If you want to sear thicker steaks or chops, cook them until browned on both sides and then transfer them to a 425-degree oven for 5 minutes or so to finish cooking.
Pork. Boneless center-cut chops: Four 1-inch-thick chops will be about 1½ pounds. Leave the fat on the sides — it's easy enough to cut off at the dinner table and it adds moisture to lean, boneless pork during cooking. Bone-in center-cut chops: Four 1-inch-thick chops will be about 2¼ pounds. Center-cut chops are the equivalent of a T-bone steak with pieces of both the loin and tenderloin. Tenderloin: Trim the silverskin. You can sear the tenderloin whole or cut it into 1-inch steaks on the diagonal.
Beef. Tenderloin or rib-eye: Trim these tender but pricey steaks of excess fat; try to buy steaks of similar thickness so they cook uniformly. Flank or skirt: Trim off excess fat.
Lamb. Rack of lamb: Best sear-roasted instead of simply seared. Shoulder chops: More reasonably priced and just as flavorful.