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When cooking steak, I have always been told groundnut oil is the best to use. But what difference does it make? Is it the best? And if it is the best, what's the next best?

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

    
are you refering to cooking your steaks in oil or using the oil as a part of a marinade? – Zaphoid Jul 16 '10 at 19:25
    
Cooking steak in oil sorry that wasn't clear. – Mark Davidson Jul 16 '10 at 19:32
    
There are 2 things that matter, 1) taste (e.g. butter tastes good) 2) smoke point, if your pan is so hot that the oil burns the oil will taste bad (Butter have low smoke point) – Stefan Nov 11 '12 at 0:27

13 Answers 13

up vote 8 down vote accepted

For steaks I really prefer cooking butter instead of oils, I find that the flavor fits the meat better.

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That's interesting might give it a go. The method I usually use involves using both groundnut oil then butter about half way through cooking. – Mark Davidson Jul 16 '10 at 19:27
    
Tried this earlier came out really good. – Mark Davidson Jul 22 '10 at 18:52
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I've used clarified butter before (and sometimes ghee), that way you don't get the milk solids burning. – derobert Jan 11 '12 at 20:18
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That makes little sense, you want to sear your steak as quick as possible. To maillard the outer layer and preserve the juices. So a smoking hot pan is what you need. That already busts your butter, because butter burns. So, rather, start with a oil with a high smoking point. They say groundnut oil has the one of the highest smoking points, but any other flavourless veg oil would do. Once you steak is seared on both sides, you can finish with butter. But you cant start with butter, thats pretty wrong. – Charlotte's cook Oct 12 '13 at 22:28
    
@Charlotte'scook Actually searing meat does nothing to retain moisture: cookthink.com/reference/7/… – iamkrillin Jan 30 '14 at 20:59

Whatever oil is in your pantry. Canola, vegetable, peanut, or even olive oil (just don't ever cook with extra virgin olive oil) is perfectly fine.

Any quality, fresh oil is going to be fine for cooking. Don't use rancid oil, and don't overheat the oil.

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Why not extra virgin olive oil? – IanVaughan Jul 12 '11 at 14:12
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Extra virgin olive oil has a very low smoke point, meaning it's very easy to burn. Burnt oil smells and tastes bad, and may even catch fire under the right conditions. – Mike Yockey Jul 14 '11 at 19:19
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According to this it's only a 14F difference for the extra virgin olive oil vs virgin olive oil. Is it really going to make an actual difference? – Kevin Jan 4 at 22:08
    
Olive oils have a wide range of smoke points depending on their quality. Your standard quality extra virgin stuff burns between 300F and 350F, much too low for frying. If you shell out for the good stuff you're fine, but for those prices who's cooking with it? seriouseats.com/2014/05/… – Mike Yockey Jan 5 at 22:14

The flavor is going to be the biggest difference when used on steak.

Different oils have different smoke points but for searing stake that doesn't make much of a difference because of the high temperature.

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Why? it is at high temperature it does matter! – Stefan Nov 11 '12 at 0:29

In New Orleans, steaks have been served in sizzling butter since before Ruth's Chris made it popular.

Techniques here:

http://thepauperedchef.com/2009/04/the-butter-steak-whats-the-best-way-to-cook-a-steak.html http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/278559

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I never use oil to cook steaks. Why? There is natural fat on/in it already. If I feel I must have fat to keep from sticking, I trim excess fat off one bit and rub it over the heated pan. To keep steak from sticking to my pan, I usually season with dehydrated garlic and onion plus powdered or ground leaf spices. Those tend to stick slightly then I later use water mixed in with the stuck down spices to make an au jus for either potatoes or rice.

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Butter or spray oil contain emulsifiers which, according to McGee, prevent sticking.

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Here is how Gordon Ramsey does it (he uses groundnut oil (aka peanut oil), one flip, 2.5-3 mins a side, butter added mid way, sides cooked at end, feel only no thermometer) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEx9gPhtjzs

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Helo and welcome to the site! Do you prepare your steak like Gordon Ramsey? Could you add your own experiences? That would actually improve your answer. – Stephie Feb 20 '15 at 21:41

If you cook expensive meat like wagyu beef, you can request them to give you some fat (from the cow of course) and oil the pan with this fat. It gives you the most authentic taste! Usually I just use olive oil (not extra virgin).

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You may want to consider a butter/oil mix. I find that works well as the oil has a higher smoking point but butter adds flavor.

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What type of oil do you use with this? – Mark Davidson Jul 16 '10 at 19:56
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I use olive oil with butter. – Boetsj Jul 19 '10 at 18:42

Personally, I like refined peanut oil for searing steaks.

Here is a list of smoke points for various oils: http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com/collectedinfo/oilsmokepoints.htm

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umm Extra virgin olive oil + butter

or

pork fat / beef fat / any form of fat

if you think a "fat" your using is going to burn fast, then just add some oil to it.

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From http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/guides/oils.php

Polyunsaturated

Due to their unstable chemical structure, polyunsaturated fatty acids are more susceptible to rancidity than saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, especially after prolonged contact with oxygen, light or heat. Oils that are predominately polyunsaturated include walnut, grapeseed, soy, corn and fish oils. These are liquid at room temperature.

Many experts don't recommend polyunsaturated oils for cooking because they are so easily damaged by heat. They are best used in their raw form, and used quickly at that. Never keep polyunsaturated oils beyond their expiration date. If cooking is necessary, use low temperatures. Polyunsaturated oils should be stored refrigerated in dark bottles.

Furthermore, grain- or legume-based oils concentrate the toxins the seeds use to protect themselves against being eaten.

Clarified butter, coconut oil, beef tallow, butter and similar oils with low poly-unsaturated fat content are the best oils for frying or deep frying. No, they won't give you a heart attack.

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Is ground nute oil the same as peanut oil?

I like to use peanut oil IF I am frying burgers instead of grilling them. It produces a wonderful flavor. Since burgers are ground steak per se, I would say it translates to steak as well, and I do indeed cook often in peanut oil.

My choice of oil however has more to do with what I am cooking beyond just the beef itself...i.e. more Asian style vs. Mediterranean style, but alone without the culture feel of the dish wishstanding, I like peanut oil best.

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