8-17: Pan-Fried Steak with Onions

Here’s a decent way to do a nice restaurant-style steak at home. 8-17: Pan-Fried Steak with Onions–with a few of my tweaks–is (hopefully) bound to impress whomever you’re cooking for.

I’m a hippie when it comes to some things, but I just love a good steak. My dad is a steak man, and his parents before him. I’ve made quite a few in my day, in a lot of different ways. This is probably the easiest, quickest, and most consistent method. Plus, it won’t set off your smoke detector or require you to go outside.

Essentially, you’re caramelizing the onions, holding them to the side while you cook the steak in the same pan. This recipe has you cook the (much thinner cut than I used) steak on the stovetop the entire time–I’m going to give you an alternate method where you do most of the cooking in the oven (but start on the stove)–this works well for thicker cuts of meat.

Ingredients. Like I said above, there’s not a lot to this one. I’m using a cut of top sirloin, thawed after spending a few months in the depths of my freezer. If you want to make this gluten-free, swap soy sauce for tamari. If you want to make it dairy-free, swap butter for vegetable or canola oil. Your caramelized onions may suffer a bit on that one, but it’s better than having an upset tummy.

Again, here’s one major detail to note: this oven method ONLY works when you’re using a traditional “steak” thickness cut of meat (about 1-1.5″ thick). If you use slices like they advise in this recipe method, stick with the pan method they use. If you use my method with thin slices of meat, it will overcook and probably burn. Look at the difference between their recipe card picture and mine–they’re very different thicknesses of meat. Just a disclaimer. Alright, let’s carry on.

Slicing the onions.

Melting the butter. Make sure you use a pan that is all-metal and/or can go into the oven–it’ll matter later. A well-seasoned cast-iron pan will work well here too.

I like to do my caramelized onions with a blend of vegetable oil and butter, as well as salt, pepper, and brown sugar. I got the method from an episode of America’s Test Kitchen, but they make their site difficult to link to, so you’re on your own to find it.

About 20-30 minutes later.

Added in the water & soy sauce.

Super-unattractive picture of the onions being held to the side while I reuse the pan for the steak. Remember, it’s got to be a pan that can go in the oven. If it wasn’t before, it should be now. In fact, start your oven, and set it to 350°F if your oven runs hot, 400°F if it runs a bit cooler/slower.

Butter melting for round 2, in the already used (and uncleaned) onion pan. Don’t clean it–that’s all good flavor in there.

Pat your steak(s) dry–like super dry. Dry meat + hot pan = a good sear (Maillard reaction), which will give you more flavor. If you put salt on it, wait until just before it hits the pan to put it on–the salt will draw moisture out of the meat and make it wet again on the surface, killing that good sear that dry meat gets you.

If your oven wasn’t on before, turn it on NOW. Again, set it to 350°F if your oven runs hot, 400°F if it runs a bit cooler/slower. Pan on the stove should be medium-high to high–enough to get the butter browning, but don’t scorch it. You have to move a bit quickly here–too long on anything and you’ll miss your marks.

Once your pan is HOT and the butter is starting to really brown, drop your just salted and peppered steak into the pan. If you’re doing more than one, you’ll need multiple pans. When you drop the steak, set a timer for 3 minutes, or just look at a clock. Do NOT touch the steak, however tempting it may be. Let it do its thing.

3 minutes later. Flip the steak, and stick the pan in your preheated oven–steak, butter, and all. Set your timer/clock for 6 minutes for rare, 7-8 minutes for medium, and 10-12 minutes for well-done. Timers/ovens vary, so it’ll take a bit of practice with your oven to get a feel for exactly how long yours takes to get it how you like it. My times here are figures to give you an idea of what it may be.

After 6 minutes in my oven, which will give you about a medium-rare (I have an absurdly hot oven, as a recently-placed oven thermometer has led me to find out)

My husband and I were splitting this particular steak, so I cut it in half before plating. I also wanted to ensure my method had worked–looks pretty good to me.

Final plate with some garlic rice/quinoa blend thing we bought at Costco. It was a mighty delicious Monday night dinner. If you want to avoid smoking up your kitchen and burning the hell out of the outside of your steak, consider using my steak-cooking method outlined above.

Grade: A (with my adjustments)