baked steak

steaks!

Give me a cheap cut of meat, and I’ll figure out how to make it marvelous. Give me a nice steak, however, and I’m lost. So since grilling the steaks kept giving me unpredictable results, I thought I’d try to bake them.

This summer, I wanted to make a point of getting better at cooking steaks. I’ve been watching Barbecue University and Primal Grill. But I just can’t seem to figure out that whole thing where you put you pinch your various fingers together to figure out how cooked your steak is. No matter what I do, I end up with steaks that are seared on the outside and rare on the inside. Or, I get a steak that is very well done.

Earlier this summer, I cooked up a ribeye dinner for my wife and a friend of ours. I did a quick marinade of the steaks and got some great grill marks. But the steaks were way overcooked and came out looking like shoe soles.

It was so bad that it prompted a do-over dinner. I tried to cook the exact same thing again. And on the second time, the meat came out medium-well, but something was missing.

So this time, on our way back from registering for baby stuff at Target, we stopped at the Paulina Meat Market. There, I picked up my wife and my favorite steaks. A fatty ol’ ribeye for me and a prime NY strip for her. The amount we spent on those two steaks cost more than we spend on internet in a month, so the stakes were high.

I asked my wife what she wanted to go with these fine pieces of meat. She quickly fired back that she wanted a baked potato. Embarassingly enough, I had never actually baked a potato in the oven before, so I had to look up a recipe.

Then, worried about giving my pregnant a nutritionally lackluster meal of meat and potatoes, I asked her what vegetable she would want to go with that.

“Mushrooms,” she replied, which I suppose, are close enough.

Steak and Baked Potato Recipe:

1. poke it: the potatoes will take seventy minutes, so you’ll want to get them started. After washing each russet potato, I poked them with a fork exactly eight times each. Then, I placed them in a 350 degree oven, directly on the grates

2. salt it: after about 15 minutes (or when there is 55 minutes left on the potatoes), I took the steaks out of the fridge and set them on a rack to come to room temperature and to get salted. I put a heavy pinch of salt on each side of each steak. They tell you to do this on Cook’s Country. And I almost never argue with that show.

3. bake it: after another 20 minutes (35 total minutes in the oven for the potatoes), the salt on the steaks will have drawn out liquid from the steaks, will have created a steak/salt solution, and will have absorbed that steak/salt solution. After a quick couple grinds with the pepper mill, the steaks are ready to bake.  I put them in the oven using the cooling rack+baking sheet setup I had used to apply the salt.

4. prep it: while the steaks are cooking, I washed a container of baby bella mushrooms. I salt and peppered them and tossed them in a bowl with a small amount of olive oil.

mushrooms!

5. temp it: after 15 minutes, (50 total minutes in the oven for the potatoes), I checked the temp on the steaks. My wife’s strip steak had reached 94 degrees, which was only 2 degrees hotter than the ambient temperature of the air above my stove when the oven is on.

94 degree steaks

6. bake it: i put the steaks back in the oven for another 15 minute session. Add the mushrooms right onto the racks where the steaks are. There should be plenty of room.

steaks with mushrooms

7. rest it: after the second 15 minute session in the oven (65 minutes in the oven for the potatoes), the steaks should be at about 130. Take them out of the oven and let them rest for five minutes.

resting the steaks

8. eat it: by now, the potatoes will have been in the oven for 70 minutes, which is the precise amount of time for a perfect baked potato. To eat the potato, take a fork and perforate a line down the middle of one side.

poking the baked potato

Then, push the ends of the potato together. This will result in a very appetizing blooming of the baked potato. Steam wafts out in a hypnotizing way that always reminds me of an old Sizzler commercial.

pushing the potato

We ate the potatoes with a little pat of butter and/or some sour cream. And they were exactly what you would expect when you think of a baked potato. They were hot, fluffy, and satisfying. I also tried putting some leftover blue cheese dressing that I had made. Now that was good.

The mushrooms managed to pick up a ton of color while in the oven, which surprised me. The flavor was good, and they managed not to get shriveled up, which seems to happen to me a lot whenever I grill whole mushrooms.

the final product

We ate the steaks with nothing more than a little extra pepper and a pat of butter. It made for a wonderful flavor, and after resting, the meat had reached a seemingly perfect medium. The meat was tender and juicy. I really enjoyed it. And it was a nice feeling to know that I didn’t ruin yet another perfectly good piece of meat.

The only thing missing was the crust that you get on a steak when you sear it over a fire. Alton Brown talked about this on an episode of Good Eats where he tried to explain why we sear things (start at 1:30. answer at 5:11), so I knew beforehand what I was going to be missing out on by baking the steak.

I was hoping that having it perfectly cooked to a medium would make me forget about the sear, but it didn’t. I mean, the steak was wonderful. But I know it can be better.

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