- Two 1-pound New York strip steaks, at least 1-inch thick
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 or 3 stems rosemary, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 or 2 lemons, halved
- Flaky salt, for serving
Photo by (Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)
As with almost any other endeavor, a healthy amount of self-awareness is crucial when it comes to cooking. My blind spot has been, and I suspect will always be, meat.
If I could tell you exactly why, I wouldn’t be making this confession in the first place, but I suspect it mostly boils down to inexperience and, therefore, lack of confidence. When you’ve had everything from flaming chickens (grill and oven!) and fat splatters to unpleasantly overcooked and questionably undercooked food, it can kind of mess with your head.
So it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I began a foray into steak. My first attempt at pan-frying a large sirloin steak was messy, to say the least. And thanks to the massive size of the cut (enough for four, according to the recipe) and the inevitable hot (and not so hot) spots you find in cast iron, the cook was very uneven — completely gray in some places and practically raw in others.
I’m not one to admit defeat that easily, so I immediately jumped into my next recipe, a low and slow steak we previously published from Modernist Cuisine at Home in 2012. On paper, it seemed to allay all my fears.
- To keep the meat from overcooking while you sear it, freeze it for half an hour first.
- To prevent an uneven finish, cook it at a low temperature for almost an hour in the oven.
So, yes, there’s a trade-off. If time is of the essence when you’re cooking steak, then this probably isn’t the recipe for you. If, however, you’re okay with that commitment of mostly inactive time to get perfectly cooked meat without the hand-wringing anxiety of managing a pan-fried steak (I’m sure I’ll master it at some point, and then I’ll share that recipe, too!), then come along with me.
Tasters marveled at the superior texture of the steak I got in this two-prong approach, with the rosy medium-rare reaching from beautifully seared edge to edge. It was fantastic out of the oven, and leftovers would make an excellent sandwich.
The original recipe called for a brush of melted butter on the steaks after cooking, which you can still do if you prefer the simplicity of flavor and fewer dishes to wash. But for extra oomph, I cribbed a rosemary-flavored olive oil from another archive recipe to replace the melted butter. And since I had a hot skillet with a slick of oil in it anyway, I threw a couple of lemon halves in to sear (if your cast-iron skillet is well-seasoned, a few minutes of the acid should be okay, although I preferred using a small nonstick pan). The pairing channels Italian Florentine steak, and the combined pop of the herb oil and citrus juice complemented the meat extraordinarily well.
As long as you have a trusty instant-read thermometer — one with a probe that you can leave in the meat while it cooks is especially helpful — this is a recipe you can easily conquer. If I can do it, then you definitely can, too.
Recipe notes: If your oven temperature does not go as low as 160 degrees, use the lowest setting it has and be vigilant about monitoring the internal temperature of the meat. We tested this only with New York strip steaks.
The steaks need to chill in the freezer for 30 minutes before cooking.
Seared, Slow-Roasted Steak
Active time: 20 mins | Total time: 1 hour 40 mins, including freezer time | Servings: 4
Line a small rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper; place the steaks on it and freeze (uncovered) for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees, or its lowest temperature (see above). Brush both sides of the chilled steaks with the vegetable oil, then generously season with the kosher salt and black pepper.
Heat a heavy skillet, preferably cast-iron, over high heat. Add the steaks and sear for 60 seconds on each side, or until they reach your desired level of char. Briefly sear the fat on the side of each steak until it is lightly browned (use tongs to hold the meat upright).
Discard the foil or parchment from the baking sheet, then place the steaks directly on the baking sheet. Insert the probe of an oven-safe digital thermometer into the thickest part of one steak. Transfer to the oven; slow-roast until the meat registers an internal temperature of 133 degrees. The time may vary depending on the thickness of the steak and your oven temperature, but figure on at least 50 minutes to 1 hour. The meat will be an even medium-rare, rosy pink throughout.
Meanwhile, combine the olive oil and rosemary in a small skillet over medium-low heat; cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Remove from the heat; scrape the rosemary and all but about a teaspoon of the oil into a small bowl.
Return the skillet to the stove top, over medium-high heat; add the lemon halves, cut sides down. Cook until the cut sides are well browned and charred in spots. Use tongs to transfer them to a plate, cut sides up.
Brush the finished steaks lightly with the rosemary-infused oil, and season lightly with the flaky salt. Let the meat rest for a few minutes, then slice and serve, with the remaining infused oil and the charred lemon halves, for squeezing.
Calories: 580; Total Fat: 42 g; Saturated Fat: 15 g; Cholesterol: 185 mg; Sodium: 190 mg; Carbohydrates: 0 g; Dietary Fiber: 0 g; Sugars: 0 g; Protein: 47 g.
Adapted from “Modernist Cuisine at Home,” by Nathan Myhrvold and Maxime Bilet (The Cooking Lab, 2012) and a 2003 Food section recipe.
Tested by Becky Krystal; email questions to email@example.com.
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The nutritional analysis uses 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.