For Christmas, my wife bought me tickets to a show at Carnegie Hall. She insisted that we go out for a nice steak dinner beforehand, as part of the gift. I hadn’t had a steakhouse steak in a couple of years, and while I remembered loving it, I still questioned whether it would be worth the price we’d pay. Nevertheless, I of course agreed to dinner and we made reservations at Empire Steakhouse in midtown Manhattan.
I always order filet when I get a steak for dinner. I simply never thought about getting anything else—its either filet or a different meat. Well, that night I branched out and ordered a N.Y. Strip, while my wife got her customary filet. Our steak came, and let me tell you, I had completely forgotten just how good steak could be. It was perfectly pink. It was crispy and buttery and full of rich flavor. It totally knocked my socks off.
That steak was so good that I vowed to learn how to cook one that could at least approach it. I started reading up on technique. From my perspective, the challenge had two parts. First, you need to get the texture just right. Second, you need to achieve that rich flavor. I made the assumption that if I could get a decent cut and cook it just right, the flavor would follow. I learned that I was wrong.
This article chronicles my attempt at tackling half of the battle—the texture. While I will be describing my process and the results, you should note that I relied pretty heavily on what I learned from this website.
1 N.Y. Strip Steak
1 Filet Mignon
A cooking thermometer you can trust
1 cast iron skillet per steak (if your steaks are different cuts, shapes, or sizes)
1. Season the steaks with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Season to your taste, but don’t worry too much about over-seasoning. Let the steak sit for at least half an hour.
2. Drizzle some olive oil onto the cast iron skillets. Place them under the broiler and put it on high. Warning: do not place the skillet too close to the broiler. I have a gas oven, and on one of my attempts I may have set one of my skillets on fire…. You want the skillets to get as hot as you possibly can. I had mine in for about 15 or 20 minutes. In the meantime, slice thin pats of butter so they are ready to put on the steak very quickly.
3. Take the skillets out of the oven. Quickly place the steaks on the skillets. Let them sear for 2 minutes. Flip the steaks to sear the other side and put the butter on the done side. Use enough butter so that when it melts it will cover the top of the steak.
4. Put the steaks back under the broiler until they’re cooked to your preferred temperature.
Note: The length of time your steak cooks depends on the temperature you want. I used this website as a reference for temperatures to get ours to Medium Rare. Cook time will also depend on the size and shape of the steak.
In my experience, my N.Y. Strip cooked in about 6 minutes. However, my wife’s filet took a bit longer. Her filet weighed a bit less but it was a thicker, squarer cut. This is why I use two skillets, so I can add and remove them from the oven individually.
The Result: My wife and I were extremely happy with how the meal came out. These steaks, too, were buttery, crispy on the outside, and perfectly pink on the inside. They were also delicious. But they were not steakhouse amazing. Nailing that flavor will be my next big pursuit!
Francis Tucker is a practicing attorney in New York City. He enjoys traveling, experimenting in the kitchen, and a good Scotch.