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So here's the situation: I love a tasty steak. I also have really particular family. If the meat is not cooked all the way (aka very little or no pink left) it's still partly raw and no one will eat it. If the meat has globs of fat on or in it, they dissect it and remove them. My Mom buys steak on the principle of the less fat you can see, the better meat it is (and is therefore convinced that more expensive steaks are worse, not better, and not worth the outrageous price). Obviously, my goal is to convince my family that this is not true, so we can have some better beef sometimes. They like delicious food, so I know they'll still love the taste of good beef, IF I can work around the aforementioned roadblocks. After much pleading, I convinced my mom to get to some better steak as a treat for me. She brought me some NY strip (what I asked for), though it's thin cut (it is a bit under 1/2 inch thick, I think). I'm hoping that the thinner meat may actually work in my favor, since it has to be medium well to well done anyway or no one will eat it.

So, a lot hinges on the results of the meal I'm cooking tomorrow, and I want to get it right. After much internet research, here's my game plan: Remove steak from fridge about an hour before cooking, pat dry and salt it. Heat a thick bottomed stainless pan to super hot (we don't have cast iron). Dry steaks off well, coat them in canola oil, and put in the pan. Sear a couple minutes on each side. A few minutes before finishing, add some butter and minced garlic and spoon over the steaks while they finish cooking. Take em out, discard the garlic, let them sit a few min while finishing other meal prep stuff, and then slice them up in thin strips (against the grain, of course!) and serve them.

Am I missing anything? Anything else I should know? Thanks!

P.S since I haven't cooked with these before I'm not sure about all that fat my mom is so offended by. I know the marbling makes the steak tender and juicy, but will it cook down somewhat and be less "present and offensive"? Or if I trim what's along the edge before cooking to help avoid complaints, will it ruin the way the steak cooks? Any help here on how to still make a still pretty tasty steak that my family can't be overly snobby about is welcome!

Also, please: if the only thing you have to say is "if you're going to cook it near well done then you're ruining it anyway, so why bother?" DON'T. It's not helpful unless you also have some nice tips on how to make a more thoroughly cooked steak better.

UPDATE: Steaks were actually closer to 1/4 in upon closer examination, and so they cooked really fast. Ended up a bit overdone even for what I had in mind. BUT they still tasted much better than what we usually have, weren't noticeably fattier after cooking, and even overdone weren't as tough as some of our usual beef. I got more compliments than complaints and they seemed to be a hit, so I consider this one a win. My brother said it was the best thing I'd made since I took over most of the cooking. :) The only thing I did differently from my original plan was I cut back on the amount of garlic I used, since I didn't want to overpower the meat's flavor too much, as someone pointed out in their answer. Thanks guys!

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    [I don't think I can really turn this into an answer, but] speaking as someone who abhors great globby lumps of fat on meat, removing it first will probably be less offensive to someone who also dislikes it. The 'it tastes better with it on' argument is purely subjective. Some internal marbling should be OK, so long as it's effectively 'vanished' before presentation. I can't comment on cooking it well-done, it's just the fat I avoid. – Tetsujin Jun 27 at 9:20
  • We might need to know what is is about the fat they hate - is it the sight, or actually the taste. I think I can come up with an answer if we know that. – Tetsujin Jun 27 at 9:53
  • @Tetsujin it is the sight and the texture of it. Basically if it's squishy and they can see or feel it when eating – M. S. Frave Jun 27 at 12:22
  • Any complaints about the liquid part, tell them it's "juice" or "just the butter". After everyone tells you how much better it taste, still don't tell them that it was really the melted fat until you've done it a few times. – Rob Jun 27 at 12:24
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    @Rob if it's completely liquified, they probably won't really care, fortunately. It's the still solid (squishy slimy) stuff that creates issues – M. S. Frave Jun 27 at 12:26
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The method you describe should work, timing wise you have it about right, except it will need longer if you are aiming for well done. Salting and oiling before cooking works well, as does letting the meat come up to room temperature (if you are aiming for rare medium-rare a cold steak isn't a bad thing as it lets you char the outside more while having the inside less done). Maybe you're better off leaving garlic out unless you know that's their taste. If they don't like fat adding butter may backfire on you, plus, butter and garlic can cover up the flavor of the steak that you want them to enjoy. You know your family and what they might like best, it's a judgement call.

The thing you are missing is that a steak doesn't have to be a monolithic thing, and by treating it that way you miss the opportunity to have something the way you like. If you have 4 steaks then cook 3 medium well to well and cook 1 to your taste, if you have 1 steak cut a quarter off and do the same thing. They don't have to eat your steak and you don't have to eat theirs.

A couple of things:

  1. Don't trim fat before cooking as you will end up with a dry steak. As you plan to serve it carved trim the fat after cooking as part of the carving process
  2. If fussy eaters don't like the look of food raw they won't eat it cooked, so keep them out of the kitchen if you can
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    As a fussy eater, I have to agree on point 2. If I see any fat on the meat before being cooked (or I predict it may have those white fatty stuff), I kindly pass it to others who will enjoy it. Something that works for me, when I'm super curious, is to just show part of your results (nobody can resist a nicely looking piece of meat) or let them see how nicely it smells in the kitchen. That surely should open their appetite. (I hope this helps) – Ismael Miguel Jun 28 at 12:02
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It's a bit late, but for your next attempt, you might want to try a 'reverse sear', where you cook it slowly first in the oven, then finish it in a hot pan.

This should help you prevent overcooking it. (although the article says that steaks thinner than 1.5 inches are a problem using this technique, I suspect that the thinner steaks would still be better so you get to well done without it taking an hour to cook)

If you're going to continue with your existing mention, you might want to read up on 'butter basting'. Basically, the idea is that you add the butter after searing, and then spoon the hot butter over the steak as it's cooking, rather than waiting until it's almost finished to add the butter.

There's also a variation of butter basting where you sear the steak, cut it up, put butter over the top, then put it in the oven ... but I've never seen recommendations for cooking a steak well done this way.

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    Really interesting articles. Thanks :) I'd heard of the reverse sear before, but mostly in passing (and attached to words like "medium rare"!) It sounds like it's a really handy (and tasty!) technique to know. I'm always up for learning alternative ways to do things! – M. S. Frave Jun 28 at 3:22
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I make these for breakfast all the time.

Consider

1: Dredge steak in flour before pan. Salt and pepper. This will make tasty brown bits on the outside. It is a pan fried steak after all.

2: Use butter to cook. Warm it up and fry steaks in butter.

3: Picky people might be picky about garlic; too much or too little. I love garlic but for picky people I offer it on the side in a condiment of some kind - as below.

  1. Mashed potatoes are a good side for the picky. Trim the fat from your steaks once cooked, mince it fine, put it back in the empty pan now with your garlic, melt it on low heat. The flour left in the pan and the fat will be a roux of sorts. Then add broth and make gravy for the mashed potatoes.
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    I'm actually safe with the garlic, since I know they like it. Surprisingly, they're not really that picky about FLAVOR. If it's tasty, they're usually on board. Other than being really catious about meat being too "raw", it's food texture they are really iffy about (which is why, ironically, my one brother HATES mashed potatoes, because he despises the texture of mashed foods). Though I actually did serve my steaks with mashed potatoes, since everyone else besides him likes them :) – M. S. Frave Jun 28 at 0:20
  • Thank you for the recipe, I may try that one of these days :) – M. S. Frave Jun 28 at 1:14
  • Won't the butter burn before getting hot enough to sear nicely? Or are you clarifying the butter first? – JJJ Jun 28 at 1:29
  • @JJJ - I think this is actually a sear cheat because the flour gets brown in the butter without the butter getting super hot. – Willk Jul 3 at 23:47
  • Do you have an idea what temperature your butter is heated to before putting the steak in? Does it smoke? Does it have white bits (milk solids) floating on top? Does it bubble (i.e. is the water cooking)? Serious Eats has some nice pictures in their guide on clarifying butter. – JJJ Jul 3 at 23:52

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