How to Finish a Steak in the Oven – 5 Can Make All the Difference
Some of my readers have been requesting me to feature tips on how to finish a steak in the oven.
Pan searing a steak is easy. It gets the cooking process going and locks in the juices. But finishing the steak in the oven to the doneness that you want takes skill, precision, and great timing!
The techniques included in this aspect of cooking the perfect steak will result in the juiciest and delicious meat you will ever have. Here are the tips on how you can cook the best steak in the oven.
Step 1: Chilling the Steaks
The truth is, it may seem that this has nothing to do with how you finish your steaks in the oven. Ah but it has everything to do with it. The chilling temperature for meats is 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
For a one-inch cut of steak, chill time should be at least 2 hours. At this temperature, microorganisms will not grow in the meat. It makes it safe for you to eat your steak at rare or medium-rare.
Step 2: Let the steak rest at room temperature
You need to take your steaks out on the counter and cover it. It is important that you bring it up to room temperature so that it will not take you hours to cook your steaks.
Cooking a cold steak is not ideal for finishing it in the oven. If you do this, you might end up with a steak that is too rare in the middle for your taste.
If you chilled your steak at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it would take about 30 minutes to get it up to room temperature.
Step 3: Pre-heat the oven
In restaurants and steak houses, ovens are preheated to as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, most ovens do not reach this temperature. You need to pre-heat your oven to as high as it can for about 20 minutes.
Preheating your oven to the right temperature allows you to finish your steaks at the right time and doneness.
I suggest that you put an oven thermometer on the middle rack on the back end. It is usually the hottest part of the oven. A thermometer will register an accurate reading.
Step 4: Season your steaks.
Make sure that you dry the surface of the steak with a kitchen towel. Planning on finishing a one-inch thick slab of rib-eye in your oven?
You need to season your steaks generously with freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt. A steak this thick does not take on a lot of flavor in the middle, so it is important that you season it with enough salt and pepper.
As you cook the steak in the oven, the salt on the surface will melt out and meld its flavor with the black pepper. Soon, the melted salt, together with the essence of the black pepper gets absorbed by the meat.
The heat building inside the steak allows it to absorb the salt and pepper. Since salt turns into moisture, it adds to the juiciness of the steak cooked at rare, medium-rare, or medium.
Aside from salt and pepper, you can season your steak with herbs and spices. However, I would suggest against seasoning it with something liquid as this will interfere with the searing process.
Step 5: Searing the meat.
Searing your steaks in a pan is just as important as cooking it in the oven. The searing process creates a crust on the surface.
The crust should be solid enough not to allow the inner juices to escape. Once you are done with the searing process, you have all the moisture of the steak trapped inside.
The only way to dry out your steak is to cook it well-done (that is precious meat wasted! Throw it away)
To sear your steak, take a thick bottomed pan.
- Place it on top of a stove burner and set the heat on medium-high.
- Pour a thin sheet of oil in the pan and spread it throughout the surface. Wait for the pan and the oil to get to the smoking point.
- Put the steak in the pan as gentle as possible. Let it cook for about two minutes.
One of the biggest mistakes that cooks do is to press on it. That is a big ‘NO’. It will produce a steak that is dry. Flip the steak gently with a spatula or tong and sear the other side for two more minutes.
Step 6: Putting the steak in the oven.
After searing the steak, quickly transfer the pan to the oven. Do this right away because any excess time wasted on the stove top may result in a steak that is not evenly cooked.
It is important that you put the steak on the middle rack (yup right where you put your oven thermometer). It is the part of the oven that receives equal amounts of heat from all sides.
It means every side gets to cook evenly. Another thing about it is that air circulates this part of the oven due to the space available around it. It is the heat that cooks the steak, but it is the air that distributes the heat evenly.
Step 7: Time your cooking.
It will depend on how thick the cut of your steaks is. Just be guided by this simple cooking time in the oven.
A one-inch thick cut of steak cooks to rare in the oven after 8 minutes. An additional quarter-inch in thickness takes about two more minutes.
To get it to medium-rare, you need to cook the steak for 10 minutes. An additional quarter-inch take two more minutes.
For medium steaks, the cooking time is at 12 minutes and an extra two minutes for every quarter-inch added.
Step 8: Do not bother the meat.
Once you place the steak in the oven, close the door, leave it and let the oven do its magic. Opening the door often will prolong the cooking time. It will result in uneven cooking because it lowers the temperature of the oven.
Step 9: Use the temperature method.
Timing your cooking is an effective way of how to finish a steak in the oven. But there is another way of knowing if you have reached the desired doneness of your steak. It is the method where your break in your meat thermometer and measure the internal temperature of the meat.
While your steaks are still in the oven, insert a meat thermometer in the center of the meat and wait for it to register the actual temperature. The best type of thermometer to use in this process is a quick-read one.
Here below is your guide on what temperatures to look for per doneness of the steak. The temperatures are all based on a one-inch thick cut of meat.
Temperature in the oven
Temperature after resting
Step 10: Resting your steaks.
Before you cut into your steak, it is important that you let it rest for about 3 minutes. The resting process allows the meat to re-absorb the locked-in juices.
If you cut into it after taking it out of the oven, the moisture will run out from the meat, and you will end up with a dry, and flavorless steak. All your work went down the drain.
But if you resist tugging into it right away, you will have the juiciest, and flavorful steak you’ve ever had.
I hope you find the steps on how to finish a steak in the oven helpful. Let me know what you think. Every step contributes positively to a steak finished in the oven. Spread the word about this article and share your thoughts in the comments section below.