Cooking steak in a skillet usually results in one that has a crisp sear on the outside, and is tender and juicy on the inside. To cook skillet steak, a tender cut of beef should be used and it should be cooked at the proper temperature in order to ensure that the steak cooks evenly. A cast iron skillet is recommended for the best results, but a non-stick one may also be used. The steaks should be cooked in an uncovered skillet, with minimal turning, in order to form a good crust on the outside.
Using a skillet on a stove top to cook steaks is an alternative to grilling. Tender cuts of beef, such as rib eye or top sirloin, are recommended for skillet cooking. Tough cuts of beef that are usually braised or stewed should not be prepared in this way. The steak should be at room temperature before cooking, and a small amount of fat should be left on the steak for extra flavor. Skillet steak can be seasoned or marinated before cooking, but it is recommended that salt not be added until the meat is done, since salt can draw out its moisture.
For best results, a cast iron skillet should be used when preparing skillet steak. This type of pan holds heat well and typically cooks a steak evenly. A cast iron skillet should be pre-heated in the oven before the steak is placed in it. If a cast iron pan is not available, an oven-safe non-stick skillet may be used. When cooking skillet steak, it is best to use only a small amount of butter or oil to prevent the steak from becoming greasy.
To ensure even cooking, the stove top temperature should be set to medium-high. If the heat is too high, the outside will be done cooking before the inside is ready. It is recommended that skillet steak be cooked to medium or medium-rare. Cooking to medium-well or well-done typically results in a dry, tough steak. A properly cooked steak will have a crust on the outside, while having a pink center.
Steaks require minimal handling when being cooked in this manner. After the first side is browned and cooked, the steak should be turned only once, to cook the other side. Tongs should be used to turn the steak rather than a fork, because piercing the meat will release the juices that keep a steak tender.