Humans tend to complicate things, don’t we?
A lot of things.
Like, preparing our steak, for example. We think we need to slather in in lot’s of spices, cook it over hot coals–you know, things that take lot’s of effort.
Except, sometimes it’s the easiest, simplest things that are truly the best. Like pan fried steaks with nothin’ but salt, pepper, thyme, butter, and garlic. On the stove. Yep, on the stove. Forget the grill, really.
Humans tend to complicate the ingredients themselves–like beef, for example, and decided to start adding really nasty things like hormones, antibiotics–you know, things we try not to think about when we’re eating but know we need to pay more attention to.
So in today’s post–we’re keeping things simple. Real simple–going back to basics (that’s my inner Ina coming out) with a delicious pan fried ribeye recipe, using only the highest quality ingredients. (Plus, read on for my secret on where to shop for them!)
Start with quality meat
First, let’s start with the steak, right? The older I get, the more I’ve started to pay attention to where my food comes from, and I’ve become more drawn to new companies like PRE Beef. When they reached out to me to partner on a recipe post together, I admit, I hadn’t heard of them before, but I quickly jumped on the bandwagon.
PRE is all about the before–as in, before all the yucky additives come into play. Their beef is 100% grass fed, and their farmers are held to the highest standards when it comes to animal welfare and health. That means no feedlots, no hormones, or antibiotics.
(Being totally transparent here) They sent me several of their products to try, and one thing that really struck me is that their steaks are leaner than what you buy at the meat counter. They don’t have too much fat (I can’t stand fatty steak!) so you don’t have to trim them, but they still have the perfect amount of marbling. It’s noticeably leaner than a lot of the variety I’m used to (in a good way!), but it certainly doesn’t lack in flavor. Especially the ribeye. (We’ll get into that below.)
Now, back to the recipe. When you’re making something super simple, you definitely want to use high quality ingredients, because, well–if they’re terrible, there’s nothing to mask them! But if they’re really good, the simple ingredients really just work together to bring out the amazing natural flavor of the meat.
(Oh, and butter. ALL of the butter.) Thus, why I thought the PRE ribeye was perfect for this pan fried goodness.
Simple is best
There are quite a few opinions out there on how to pan fry a steak, but the one thing they all agree on is that the best pan to do so in is a cast iron skillet.
The biggest reason? The pan is thick, and heavy-bottomed, meaning the ribeye steak won’t easily burn, like it might in a regular pan. I use Lodge brand, which is among the most well-regarded. (Plus, it won’t break the bank!)
To start out, pull your steak out of the fridge 30 minutes to an hour before you want to start cooking. Season both sides of your steak liberally with salt (I prefer course sea salt) and pepper. Set aside, and let the steak come to room temperature.
You can use this time to start preparing whatever side you’d like to serve with your steak. In this case, I like to keep things simple. So I picked up my favorite fresh veggies–beets, carrots, and shallots–at the store (I really love the organic veggie selection at Jewel’s West Loop location, FYI). Toss with salt, pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, and rosemary, and pop those puppies in the oven to roast.
When your steak has come up to room temperature, drizzle some oil (vegetable or canola works great, as they have a higher heat tolerance than olive oil) into your cast iron, and turn it up to medium-high heat. You want to get the pan “ripping hot” (as my favorite food network chefs like to say.) From my experience, you’ll know it’s the perfect temperature when the oil starts to BARELY smoke. (Nothing crazy, or else you might burn your steaks.)
Then lay your steaks in the pan. You want to hear a nice sizzle. Now, here’s the controversial part–many say you should flip your steak only once. Others say to turn constantly. The only time I get in trouble is if I get distracted and forget how long I’ve cooked something on one side. (While I would consider myself a pretty seasoned home cook, the whole “distraction factor” happens more frequently than I’d like to admit.) Because of that, flipping frequently ensures that I cook the steak evenly on both sides.
(And also because that’s what Gordon Ramsey does, and I pretty much just do everything he says.)
I make my first flip about 45 seconds after I put the first side down. This is enough time to get a really nice sear on it, but you know, not too long. Grab your tongs, and flip away. After your second side has seared for about 45 seconds, smash a couple cloves of garlic, and throw them into the pan. No need to chop, just a couple smashed cloves are just fine.
Keep flippin. It works really well to tilt your pan with the steak at the bottom so the oil and steak and goodness are all down there together. (Don’t forget about the sides of your steak, too. Flip them on the sides and make sure they get some love.)
Now, throw in some thyme sprigs. I love thyme, so I used about 3. Stir ’em all around in the oil, flip your steak on top of ’em, whatever–make sure your steak and the thyme sprigs become fast friends.
Then, add your butter. (WAHOO!)
Melt it on top of the steak, and once melted, take a metal spoon and just keep spooning it over the steak. Remember, tilting the pan to one side really helps it all pool together nicely and makes it super easy to spoon.
How do you tell when it’s done? I like to use “the cheek test”.
Touch your cheek with your index finger. Feel how squishy it is? That’s how a rare steak feels when you touch it with your finger. For medium (my preference for a ribeye and for most meat in general, I’m sorry in advance if you’re a rare steak purist!) it should feel like your chin–that semi squishy, yet still firm feeling. And for well done–touch your forehead. It should feel pretty hard. When in doubt, take it out of the pan–you can always throw it back in if it’s too rare!
Remove from pan, and transfer to a cutting board to let stand for about 15-20 minutes. Remove your pan roasted veggies from the oven, and transfer to a serving dish. Once slightly cooled, serve over a bed of arugula, topped with shaved parmesan, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Who’s coming over for dinner?
This post was sponsored by PRE Beef. All products are 100% Jess tested, approved, and opinions of course, are my own!