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Thank you to Visit Omaha who provided the author with complimentary steaks to facilitate this article.
Everyone who knows me knows how much I love to travel and eat in restaurants. Getting out and discovering new foods and new ways of making ingredients I’m familiar with is my passion. So, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I had to find a new way to fulfill my wanderlust and enjoy restaurant-style steak at home.
I also love to entertain, and I distinctly remember my daughter cautioning me while planning a dinner menu for guests, not to cook steak as that wasn’t my best dish. I had to agree; cooking a steak at-home was a bit of a mystery to me. It never seemed exactly right.
I NEEDED to learn to cook a restaurant-style steak at home to make it through the pandemic. Using technology, I made the best of a difficult situation by using virtual travel. I went virtually to Omaha, a place I think of as the steak capital of the world. Visit Omaha offered an on-line cooking demonstration with three Omaha restaurant chefs. They gave our group their best tips for cooking an Omaha Steak.
But first, before I share what I learned, let’s look at the history of Omaha Steaks.
Omaha Steaks’ History
Steak is often the focus of many upscale restaurant meals using wood-fired ovens and other specialty equipment; however, steak is accessible for the home cook through Omaha Steaks.
In 1884, cattlemen established Omaha’s Union Stockyard when 531 long-horn cattle were the first shipment to stop on a trip from Wyoming to Chicago. The purpose was feeding and watering the cattle going to the east coast market.
J.J. and B.A. Simon came to America from Riga, Latvia, to escape religious persecution. After passing through Ellis Island, they boarded a westbound train and got off in Omaha, a town reminiscent of their Latvian farm.
Using the skills, they brought with them from the old country, in 1917, J.J. and B.A. Simon opened a small butcher shop, Table Supply Meat Company, that became today’s Omaha Steaks, a fifth-generation family business.
Steak Lessons from Three Omaha Restaurant Chefs
Three Omaha restaurant chefs showed me how to tackle cooking a restaurant-style steak at home, all using Omaha Steaks. Chef Jake Newton, from V. Mertz, runs a fine-dining style restaurant. Chef Nick Strawhecker of Dante Pizzeria Napoletana has an Italian-style restaurant, while Chef Colin Duggan owns Kitchen Table, a restaurant with a home-style kitchen. While all these chefs are at the helm of different styles of restaurants and each shared a variety of tips, they all started with the same tool, a cast-iron skillet. I had one once and never used it, so my first step in the quest for a perfect restaurant-style steak at home was to purchase a pre-seasoned cast iron skillet.
The Method to Cooking Steak
Here’s what I learned from my virtual meeting with the three Omaha chefs on how to make the perfect restaurant-style steak at home. They certainly know their steak.
- Season the steak up to 12 hours before cooking to infuse maximum flavor.
- Temper the meat by letting it stand at room temperature for almost two hours at room temperature.
- Start with a very dry steak to help with the caramelization process. Pat it dry with paper towel to remove all the excess moisture.
- Season with a liberal amount of kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Season from above to season the entire surface.
- Use canola oil, vegetable, or peanut oil to sear the steak on the hottest surface possible to create that crust and caramelization on the steak, approximately two and a half minutes per side. Don’t be afraid to get the pan hot as that’s what creates the crust. Check the cooking time chare here.
- Once the steak has the nice exterior crust, let it rest for five to seven minutes, the goal is to cool the external temperature to be less than what you desire the internal temperature. The internal temperature of steak should read 115 degrees to 120 degrees (rare to medium-rare.)
- Finish steak in a hot oven or grill (450 degrees) for about five minutes (depending on your oven or grill) until you reach the desired internal temperature.
- The final resting period is around 15 minutes. The bigger the steak, the more rest time required. Let the steak rest for up to an hour and then cut across the grain. If it rests an hour, it won’t be hot, but it will still be delicious.
Now I was ready to order my steaks. I was a bit perplexed on how these steaks were going to arrive safely chilled to me after several days they would be in transport, but they did. Here’s how.
The Steaks’ Arrival
Omaha Steaks wrap each steak individually in a freezer-type plastic that removes any air between the steak and the wrap, eliminating freezer burn. Then each set of four frozen steaks were put in a 9X11 size box. The box has a label on the end that indicates the steak type. I ordered three types of steak, each box containing four steaks. They packed the three packages inside a Styrofoam cooler, with just the right amount of dry ice. Then the cooler was labeled and shrink-wrapped. When the steaks arrived, I unpacked the cooler, checked that my steaks were still frozen solid, and put them in my freezer until I was ready to cook them.
Fun Fact: Omaha Steaks is the largest user of dry ice in North America.
Preparing to Cook the Steak
The night before, remove your steak from the freezer and put it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. If you forget to do this or if you have a steak emergency, alternatively, you can run it still in the plastic wrap under cold water right before you cook, to thaw it.
Ways to Stretch a Steak
Chef Colin provided a new perspective on steak. When I think of steak, I think of dinner, and Chef Colin helped me expand my thinking. Steak is a protein that works wonderfully for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
In our cooking demonstrations, I learned a couple of ways to make the luxurious steak stretch to feed more people while still feeling luxurious. That left me brainstorming these other ideas that would even be great to use a leftover if there even is such a thing as leftover steak.
- A 12-ounce ribeye could stretch to feed at least four servings if fanned across a salad for lunch.
- Cut the steak in small bite-size pieces, combine it with some scrambled eggs, diced cooked potatoes, salsa, and cheese and wrap it in a flour tortilla for a breakfast burrito.
- Top a pizza with thin slices of steak, add bell peppers in multi-colors, and some mozzarella to create a Philly cheesesteak pizza.
- Build a steak sandwich.
- Finely dice the steak, mix it with cubed fried potatoes, scrambled eggs, and other Mexican-flavored toppings and turn that steak for one into breakfast burritos for four.
How to Cook a Restaurant-Style Steak with a Mushroom Bordelaise Sauce
I decided to cook my New York Strip Steak outdoors on the grill in a cast iron pan and top it with a mushroom Bordelaise sauce. My meal included typical steakhouse sides, a baked potato, and green beans.
Order a Full Meal from Omaha Steaks
In addition to steaks you can order a full meal from Omaha Steaks, think appetizers, sides, dessert, and yes, even wine.
Watch the video to see how I did it!
4, ½” thick steaks, filet mignon or New York strip
2 tablespoons of canola oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- Let the steaks sit at room temperature for one hour to temper the steaks.
- Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel.
- Season the steaks with a liberal amount of kosher salt and cracked black pepper.
- Use canola oil to sear the steak on the hottest surface to create that crust and caramelization on the steak. Don’t be afraid to get the pan hot as that’s what creates the crust.
- Sear the steaks approximately two minutes per side for rare. See Omaha Steaks cooking chart to find your preferred doneness for your steak.
- After searing both sides, move the steaks to indirect heat on the grill and cook until they reach the desired doneness.
Mushroom Bordelaise Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 shallots, diced finely
2 tablespoons cognac
3 cups sliced button mushrooms
1 cup cabernet sauvignon
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- Remove the steaks to a platter and continue cooking the sauce in the cast iron pan used to cook the steaks.
- Heat the olive oil.
- Cook the garlic and shallots over low heat for two to three minutes, until soft and transparent.
- Deglaze the pan with cognac.
- Add the mushrooms, cabernet sauvignon, beef stock, tomato paste, and fresh thyme.
- Cook until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.
- Stir in the lemon juice and butter.
- Season to taste with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
- Serve the mushroom bordelaise sauce over the steaks.
If you want to make it a surf and turf, with steak and lobster, see my video with Chef Scott Youden on deconstructing a lobster.
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