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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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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
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15 Answers 15

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 at 20:59
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Someone told me olive oil is not good for cooking the heat changes molecular structure makes it carcinogetic which can cause cancer as someone already mentioned coconut oil is good

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I know nothing about cooking at all, but to the guy who said to only flip the steak once...

Heston Blumenthal - owner of England's three-Michelin star "the Fat Duck" restaurant which was voted as the best restaurant in the world out of 50 by a respected list - who is basically a master of molecular gastronomy, said that you should flip the steak every 10 seconds (dozens of times) until done.

And to the guy who said thermometers are good, but feeling is better, Heston said it's 100% about temperature and nothing about feel.

Watch his video on how to cook a steak here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-9NgOZuUXM

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You are citing a person with high knowledge on the subject. Could you also post some explanations on why should it be done that way? What happen in the steak when cooking it that way? How is it different to other ways of cooking? –  J.A.I.L. Nov 9 '12 at 21:56
    
The steak cooks faster and the outside overcooks less, i.e. you get a juicer steak because of less moisture loss and more even cooked steak. Modernist Cuisine recommends the same thing. –  Stefan Nov 11 '12 at 0:23
    
This is particularly useful when cooking thick steaks. With thinner steaks, I think the flip once thing is perfect because really... you don't have much time to cook it so you just give it a good sear and it's ready. With thicker cuts, I prefer cooking it on lower heat and flipping often. That way you still get a good crust and a proper medium cook without overcooking it. Some solve that problem by tossing it in the oven to finish it. You have to keep flipping it so the juices don't run out which is why I prefer it. Keep em running towards the center. –  Sinaesthetic May 31 at 6:58
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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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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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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) because it is healthier.

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Guide to cooking steak

1, Remove battery from smoke alarm

2, Heat any oil except baby or engine

3, Add steak

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I generally pat my steaks dry with a paper towel, put a homemade dry rub on them, and grill them without oil. But that doesn't answer your question.

When cooking them in a pan, I'll use olive oil for my wife, who prefers the flavor, and grapeseed for myself (for no other reason anymore than because it's my go-to oil - originally I chose it for its high smoke point and subtle, nutty-ish flavor). Those are for when I'm feeling healthy.

When I don't care about that, I go heavy on the butter. Mmmm.

This thread has made me curious to try an oil/butter mixture, I'm not sure why I didn't think of that before.

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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. If you're trying to get a crust on the steak, just follow a few simple guidelines:

  1. Allow steaks to come to room temperature before cooking.
  2. Salt both sides of the steaks and allow them to sit for 15 - 20 minutes, pulling protein-laden moisture to the surface.
  3. Only flip the steak once during cooking, and don't move it in the pan. Allow the meat to fully sear on each side before flipping/removing.

If you like your steak a little more done, preheat an oven to 350F and sear the steak in an oven-safe pan (cast iron is my favorite). After flipping the steak place the entire pan in the oven and monitor temperature for doneness periodically with an instant read thermometer.

Any quality, fresh oil is going to be fine for cooking. Don't allow your cooking oil to be exposed to light. This often means storing it in a cupboard or buying an opaque container. Exposure to light can cause oil to go rancid. Always close the oil container to prevent exposure to oxygen. Oil can oxidize and bring nasty flavors to your dishes. Don't overheat oil. That sulfury smell often associated with cooking is the result of burned cooking oil. It isn't supposed to smell that way and it brings bad flavors with it. You don't typically have to heat your burner beyond medium or med-high. If you're using a heavy vessel like cast iron just give it time to heat over the burner before cooking in it.

Most of all, steak is delicious. Eat a lot of it! The more you cook it, the more you'll refine your method of cooking. Finally, don't be afraid to cook that steak over some charcoal. In my opinion, it's the only way to fly. Good luck!

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To expand on that: thermometers are good. Learning to test doneness by feel is better. I posted elsewhere: Hold up your left hand, palm facing you. Touch the pad of your left thumb with your right forefinger. That is blue rare. Touch your left forefinger to the tip of your left thumb, feel the base of your thumb again. That is rare. Do this sequentially with your fingers for med-rare, medium, and well. –  daniel Jul 19 '10 at 18:48
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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. –  yock Jul 14 '11 at 19:19
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"Only flip once" is bad advice. You get more even cooking and a better crust if you flip frequently. –  Jefromi Apr 7 '13 at 16:26
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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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Butter or spray oil contain emulsifiers which, according to McGee, prevent sticking.

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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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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
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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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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
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