For someone who eats a ton of meat (and cooks a fair amount of it), it’s a little surprising that I don’t have a definitive steak recipe on here. That’s because I was under the impression that that thick, salty crust and melt-in-your-mouth meat were a hallmark of steakhouses alone, and not something one could do at home. FALSE FALSE FALSE.
As it turns out, you absolutely can make drool-worthy steak at home. All you need are a cast-iron skillet, a good amount of coarse salt, some freshly cracked black pepper, a strong exhaust fan and/or an understanding that your apartment will smell like burnt cow for a solid three or four days. (Who needs a White Castle candle when you can have parfum de boeuf?)
There are a few rules for picking out your steak. First, avoid bone-in cuts, since they require longer cooking times. Choose a steak that’s about one inch thick — any thicker and it won’t cook through on the stove. Ideally, you’d want a strip, hanger, skirt or flat iron steak, though I used a 1/2-inch thick sirloin and got great results. So as long as your steak is relatively thin and flat, you should be ok.
The most important things to remember here: hot and dry. In order to get a good sear on the meat, your pan must be piping hot and the meat must be dry dry dry. Cast-iron skillets are ideal because they can get much hotter than other skillets and also distribute heat more evenly, but any thick-bottomed skillet will do. Air out the steak for up to an hour, patting it repeatedly with paper towels so that the meat is as dry as possible.
Julia Moskin’s method has you salt the pan instead of salting the steak, since the dry salt and the hot pan help form that highly sought-after crust. And rather than adding the steak to the pan and letting it sit, Moskin suggests flipping it often, so that the meat never gets a chance to really overcook. (If your pan is hot enough, you’ll get a nice brown char on the meat almost immediately, so no need to worry about that.) The meat should be on the stove for no longer than 5 minutes for a rare or medium rare steak, and it should rest for at least 10 minutes before you start slicing.
I don’t need to tell you how delicious this shizz is. Just look at those bad boys. And then go out, buy yourself a steak and get to cooking.