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I'm trying to get a crunchy crust on a thin steak - is this possible? Online recipes on pan-searing steaks and basting require a 3/4" inch steak at minimum, but this is pretty hard to get at the supermarket for me. They're generally just under 3/4" and more than 1/2".

I find that the outer edges of the surface of the steak in contact with the pan char far more quickly than the inner area. It doesn't seem to be an issue with the steak curving and doming slightly, since this happens on both sides of the steak.

Any idea why this happens, and how to fix this?

  • What sort of pan are you using? Do you preheat the pan? Do you add anything else to the pan (oil, butter, other fat, etc.)? How do you prepare the steak before cooking (any seasoning, oil, etc.)? – Athanasius Nov 21 '15 at 21:36
  • By the way - the reason why the edges get done faster is likely because steam can more easily escape there, compared to the center. The raw (moist) surface layer in the middle of the steak also will generate steam, which can't escape as quickly, and that will tend to keep the surface temperature lower in the center, until you evaporate the moisture in the surface layers of the steak. We may be able to give specific pointers if you provide some details (see my last comment). – Athanasius Nov 21 '15 at 21:40
  • I've tried a non-stick and stainless steel pan on the induction hob - the steaks are just seasoned with salt and pepper. Preheated till the oil is starting to smoke, I used enough oil to cover the surface of the pan and then finished with butter towards the end. – James Craig Nov 21 '15 at 22:28
  • When do you put the salt on? Salt will cause moisture to come out of the steak for about 30-40 minutes after seasoning. Assuming I'm correct about the moisture issue, you may try salting at least 45 minutes before cooking, or salting right before putting the steak on the pan. Another thought is to skip the oil in the pan, heat the stainless pan even hotter than you have been doing, and put a little oil directly on the steak instead before putting in the pan. If the pan is hotter, it may cook the center faster and brown more evenly. Add a little more oil/butter later as needed. – Athanasius Nov 21 '15 at 23:01
  • Hmm, might have been a moisture issue then. Thanks for the pointers, will try again tomorrow. Cheers! – James Craig Nov 21 '15 at 23:18
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Given the thinness of the steak, you achieve a good crust without overcooking the inside by applying high heat for a few minutes on each side of a thin steak. I would treat it like this skirt steak recipe from seriouseats.com :

Since it's a very long, flat steak, there's a lot of surface area to develop an outstanding crust, but this shouldn't be done at the expense of overcooking the inside, which is easy to do given the thinness. The solution is a blazing hot fire to sear the steak quickly before it cooks all the way through.

The grill is the best place to build up this type of heat, where a chimney full of lit coals piled close together can get you up to 700°F of direct heat.

Fix any doming issues and make sure you have an even, uniform crust by using your spatula to press the cut of meat down evenly or use a grill weight like this one (I'm not affiliated with the listing, just an example).1

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