Perfect T-Bone Steak

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Introduction: Perfect T-Bone Steak

About: I've been posting Instructables since the site's inception, and now build other things at Autodesk. Follow me for food and more!

Want to make a perfect medium-rare* T-bone steak?  It's easy: get it exactly right every time by cooking your steak sous vide.  Here's a great explanation of why sous vide makes perfect steaks.

Precision-cooking this tender cut of steak takes only an hour or two, so if you don't have a sous vide set-up this is a great candidate for the DIY cooler sous vide trick. I've simply paired the steak with browned-butter caramelized onions, but creamed spinach, some form of potato, or a salad are also traditional steak-house sides.  

Not convinced that sous vide is useful for steak? 

*or any doneness you like: just set the sous vide temperature appropriately, and you can make rare, medium-rare, medium, or even well-done steak without carefully-timed cooking or guess-and-check nonsense. 

Step 1: Salt & Bag

Place your steak in a bag, weigh it, and add 1% salt by weight.  This means a 600g steak gets 6g of salt.  Remove air from the bag and create a water-tight seal.

I've used a fancy vacuum chamber, but you can also use a foodsaver, or a ziplock bag if you're going the beer-cooler route.  Just make sure you get salt in, and the air and water out.  

Step 2: Cook

Time to precision-cook your steak!

Heat your water bath to 131F, and drop in the bag-o-steak.  If you're using the beer-cooler method, make sure to adjust the water temperature so you HOLD with 131F water for the duration of cook time.

Cook for at least 1.5 hours if you want to pasteurize your steak.  Holding a bit longer won't hurt; 2-3 hours is fine, and won't show any real change in the texture of the meat.  

If you want an un-pasteurized steak, hold for an hour at 125F for rare, 131F for medium-rare, 140F for medium. 

Step 3: Saute Onions

Brown about half a stick of butter in a pan, then add 2 chopped onions and a generous pinch of salt and cook over medium heat.  Stir as needed until onions soften and brown as well.

If pan-searing the steak: remove onions from pan while you perform step 4, then replace and cook down with the fond and any remaining meat juice from the sous vide bag. Continue cooking until the liquid has cooked off.

If grilling or blowtorching the steak: go ahead and add the meat juices from the sous vide bag, and continue cooking until the liquid has cooked off.

Step 4: Finish Steak

Now it's time to finish your steak, with the goal of creating a nice set of Maillard Reaction products (browning) on the surface of the meat.  This requires hot dry heat, and should be done quickly (60sec/side or less) to avoid overheating your perfectly-cooked interior.  The thinner your steak, the quicker you need to finish.  Here are your basic options:

Pan-searing:
Shown below.  Use a heavy pot, cast-iron if you can get it.
  • Add a bit more butter to the pan if needed, and turn the heat up to medium-high.  
  • Sear the steak on both sides until browned, about 60 seconds per side.  
  • Remove from pan and rest on a plate.

Grilling:
See the intro picture for results - this is my preferred method.
  • Pre-heat grill so grate is extremely hot.
  • Drop steak on the grill, positioning for your favorite style/direction of grill marks.
  • When the front side is properly browned (60 seconds or less), flip and grill the other side.
  • Remove from grill immediately and rest on a plate.

Blowtorch:
This is a quick-and-easy method for flaming when you don't have grill access.  I keep an industrial blowtorch under my kitchen sink at home, right next to the fire extinguisher.
  • Set the steak on a sturdy heat-proof plate (metal or heavy ceramic), pan, or baking sheet.
  • Light blowtorch, and slowly pass flame over the surface of the meat.
  • Repeat as necessary to achieve a nice brown crust on the surface of the meat.  It should sizzle.
  • Pay close attention to fat on the edges - browned fat is delicious.
  • Flip, and torch the other side.
  • Allow torched steak to rest for a few minutes.

Step 5: Finish & Plate

To serve, place onions on the steak.  Complicated, yes?  Well, no.  But certainly delicious, and utterly fool-proof.

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    38 Discussions

    Sounds intriguing, but Hubby loves his STOK grill and every weekend grills 2" porterhouses on the grill.

    How long would it take to make 2 - 2" porterhouse steaks with your method?

    You mention using a blow torch, are you saying that the steaks are cooked when they come out of the heat bath and all they need is browned?

    1 reply

    You want to bring your steak up to 131F, which will take a slightly longer if you're using 2" steaks - figure another 10-15 minutes in the bath to reach temperature.

    The steaks are 100% cooked when they come out, and just need to be browned on the surface by whatever method you prefer. I like the fact I don't need to pay close attention to the steaks while they're in the bath, you can be a couple of hours late with no problems, and it's only 2 minutes standing by the grill to finish them - bonus on a hot day.

    0
    user
    1Dgirl

    4 years ago

    I love steak but I don't no how to make now I do tnx u a steak saver!

    1 reply

    Hours for a steak???? By that time I've done lit my grill, grilled my food to my liking, washed the dishes, and took a nap.

    Ah, but while a standardly-cooked steak is medium-rare in the center, there's a gradient that gets progressively more well-done towards the exterior.

    This technique produces a steak that is exactly 131F (or whatever temperature you target) all the way through, with a nice external sear. Especially useful for very thick steaks. I'll have to post a cross-section.

    Thanks for the reply, but that is also not what I consider a sear. You cook yours the way you like it, I'll cook mine the way I like it and we will both be happy.

    Steak is a very personal thing. :)

    Post your technique - would love to see it.

    Somehow an instructable on how to cook a steak is really not much on the interesting scale. I guess I'm just more into mechanical or electronic ibles. I learned to cook the way I like it a long time ago. Sorry, I don't mean to offend anyone. But then again, now days you can't say much without offending someone.

    canida, I think you are making a lot more out of cooking a steak than necessary. Sous vide is not needed for average people, you must be a foodie who watches too much TV. I will guarantee there are no top notch steak houses that sous vide their steaks. A 600 deg. grill for a couple of minutes per side works for most people. remember K.I.S.S. An instructable is not needed. Cheers.

    Pro tip: Steakhouses have to churn out hundreds of steaks a day in a short period of time, if they had the time, they'd do ti as I've mentioned above. Steakhosues are not the be all and end all of steak, they are restaurant food and therefore much of what they do is a matter of expediency, not taste.

    Why is the exterior of your steak not nice and dark then? You did something wrong.

    That's not the perfect steak at all. It's not even the right colour.

    For perfect steak:

    1) Salt steak well, at least 45 min prior to cooking, preferably 12h ahead of time.
    2) Preheat oven to 225
    3) Dry the steak with paper towels, thin coat of vegetable oil, season steak
    4) Put in cast iron pan, place in oven
    5) Cook until 10 degrees less than desired doneness
    6) Remove from oven
    7) Heat burner on high, or heat oven to 500F
    8) Put cast irons on burner
    9) Place steak, butter and any aromatics (Garlic, shallots rosemary, thyme) in pan
    10) Baste the steak with butter constantly until desired doneness is reached.
    11) Let rest for 5-10mins

    This makes for a steak with an amazingly crispy, dark and flavourful exterior, with a perfectly pink inside, no grey ring around the exterior. That is how you make the perfect steak. It's better than a steakhouse steak, which actually does a lot of what it does for expediency, instead of deliciousness.

    Tenderized steak is easy to spot as the surface is different and it has to be disclosed on the packaging (I live in Canada).

    1 reply

    Very nice! I saw the headline "Perfect T-Bone Steak" in the recap email and had to click. If you didn't mention sous vide, well, you did!

    1 reply

    Thanks! I'm having fun introducing people to new techniques.

    Just checked out your BBQ site - looks great. I hope you're going to be posting some recipes!