You Can Bake a Steak

You Can Bake a Steak

For all you meat lovers without a grill, I wanted to let you know that you can have a juicy, tender steak without all of the fancy gadgets and grill marks. How do you do this, you ask? Baking, of course! An oven at 425F will cook a steak in about 10-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the cut.

In the chef’s world, “roasting” is the proper term used when cooking a piece of meat in the oven. It is synonymous to baking. When roasting a piece of meat, the item is always uncovered.

Before you begin roasting your steak, you will need a little lesson in chemistry. The steak needs to be browned quickly on the stove top before you place it into the oven. There are two types of browning reactions that occur in foods.

Enzymatic browning in an avocado and a banana.

Enzymatic browning in an avocado and a banana.

Enzymatic browning happens when fruits and vegetables become bruised or old.

Nonenzymatic browning on the surface of a steak.

Nonenzymatic browning on the surface of a steak.

Nonenzymatic browning involves sugars. There are two types of nonenzymatic browning.

The nonenzymatic browning reaction that happens while searing a steak on the stove top is called Maillard Browning.

The Maillard Reaction takes place when a specific type of sugar and an amino group (from protein) is heated.

The sugar-amine formation loses a water molecule, and rearranges its structure. The structure can either lose more water to form caramel-like products, degrade into nitrogen-free compounds, or dehydrate into a sweet bready note called furfural (1).

I used furfural quite frequently when I worked in the flavor industry. It lends a sweet, woody, bready, nutty, and caramellic taste to a flavor (2).

The end result of all three pathways will interact with amino acids once again to form the final browned compounds called melanoidins. Melanoidins produce a wide range of flavors, including those that taste bitter, alliaceous, caramellic, bready, sweet, roasted, and nutty (1). The rate of Maillard Browning increases with high temperatures, low water activity, and high pH (or a basic solution, which is why adding acid will slow the browning process).

Proteins that are cooked for too long will become tough. Initially browning the steak before placing it in the oven will lock in the juices and moisture. The brown exterior almost serves as a barrier for cooking the inside of the meat.

Ready to get started?

Cover the steak in some form of marinade the night before cooking. You may also place some oil, Teriyaki sauce, flour, or spices on the outside of the steak immediately before searing it on the stove top. Place a frying pan on the stove and start heating it at medium temperatures. CAREFULLY place your steak on the hot pan. Brown each side of the meat for about 30 seconds.

I had a thinner cut of steak for dinner last night, so I did not completely brown each side.

If you are having a thicker cut of meat, then you should completely brown both sides before cooking.

Since my steak was smaller, it needed less time in the oven, and I did not want extra browning to make the meat tough. Thicker cuts of steak are different, because you will keep your steak in the oven for longer.

Place the steak on a baking sheet and put it in a 425°F oven for 10-20 minutes, depending on its thickness. Do not cut open the steak to check if it is done cooking! You will need to let the steak “rest” for 3-5 minutes after removing it from the oven in order to lock in the moisture.

You can check the temperature of the meat if you have a meat thermometer. The center of the meat should always be measured because it will be the last area to cook. Steak should be about 145°F after allowing it to rest for 3 minutes (3).

Don’t fret if you don’t have a meat thermometer. You can always do the “finger test.” This idea uses your hands to see if your meat will be rare, medium-rare, medium, or well-done (4).

“Raw Meat”

Relax your hand. Push on the flesh between the thumb and the base of the palm with your index finger. This is firmness is synonymous to raw meat.

“Well-Done Meat”

Press the tip of your pinky and thumb together. The fleshy area should be firm. This will resemble well-done meat.

“Medium Meat”

When doing this with your ring finger, you’ll be able to feel medium meat.

“Medium-Rare Meat”

Using your middle finger will resemble medium-rare steak.

“Rare Meat”

Finally, using the index finger will demonstrate the firmness of rare meat.

That’s all there is to it! Be careful though, because the meat might be hot. I suggest placing a paper towel or other barrier between you and the meat.

Once you’ve decided that your steak is finished, let it rest on the pan for 3 to 5 minutes. Then serve and enjoy!

It’s that simple.

The steak is baked.

The steak is baked.

Nutrition for 5 oz of grass-fed strip steak from the USDA Nutrient Database.

Nutrition for 5 oz of grass-fed strip steak from the USDA Nutrient Database.

Sources:

1. “Maillard Reaction.” 410 Home- Arhived. Available at http://web.archive.org/web/20041029235215/http://www.agsci.ubc.ca/courses/fnh/410/colour/3_82.htm. Accessed 05 Feb. 2014.

2. “Furfural.” The Good Scents Company. Available at http://www.thegoodscentscompany.com/search.php?qName=furfural&submit.x=0&submit.y=0. Accessed 05 Feb. 2014.

3. “Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart.” USDA. gov. Available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/625d9435-4f14-46fe-b207-5d6688cb4db5/Safe_Miminum_Internal_Temperature_Chart.pdf?MOD=AJPERES. Accessed 05 Feb. 2014.

4. Bauer, Elise. “The Finger Test to Check the Doneness of Meat.” Simply Recipes, 2007. Available at http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/the_finger_test_to_check_the_doneness_of_meat. Accessed 05 Feb. 2014.

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