When it comes to fillets and rib-eyes, too thick is always so much better than too thin. The most excellent tasting steaks go as much as 1 ½ inch thick. Many steak masters even prefer 1 ¾ inch or 2 inch thick steaks. The most common steak thickness is 1 inch. Now you may be wondering how to cook a thick steak.
A 1 ½ inch thick steak is better insulated than a 1-inch thin steak making it easier for you to be precise in so far as doneness is concerned.
Grilled and pan-seared steaks completely taste differently but only have minor distinctions in so far as cooking technique is concerned.
Table of Contents
Method 1: Grilling Thick Steak
Grilling thick steak in a charcoal grill is more flavorful than cooking in a broiler or stovetop range. For one heat coming from real hardwood coal or even just charcoal briquettes is greater than what you will get from a broiler or stovetop range.
Cooking thick steak in a charcoal grill creates superior charring not to mention the beef fat drippings giving a rich smoky flavor.
Here is how to cook thick steak in a grill without under-cooking or over-cooking. Again, never get intimidated with a thick steak because there are tried and tested techniques on how to turn thick steaks to perfection.
What You Will Need
- 1 pound Rib-eye Steak, 1 ½ inch thick
- Kosher salt
- Meat thermometer
- Charcoal Grill with real hardwood coal or charcoal briquettes
+ Salting the Steak
Sprinkle salt over the surface of the steak 30 minutes before grilling. Salting the steak overnight is more preferred. Salting overnight will give you a better tasting and quality steak because you allow the salt to go way down the inside of the meat.
Salting the steak overnight will also bring out the excess moisture from the meat which you will otherwise have to blot off with a paper towel.
Prepare steak for grilling
If you salted your steak overnight, allow it to set at room temperature for about 20 minutes before grilling. This will help your steak cook evenly.
Make sure the surface of the steak is extremely dry. If you salted it overnight and placed it in the refrigerator uncovered, the surface will already be dry. If you have just salted your steak, pat the surface with paper towels making sure it is very dry.
Preparing the Grill
Heat the charcoal grill and get it ready for indirect heating. If you are cooking a 1-inch thin steak you can cook it over super-hot fire. You cannot do the same with 1 ½ inch thick steaks because you will end up burning the surface of the steak but have the inside under-cooked.
Grilling and Searing
Place the steaks on the cooler side of the charcoal grill so it will evenly cook in the inside and out. When the grill is almost at the desired cooking temperature, transfer the steaks to the hot portion of the grill.
Sear the steaks on each side for a few minutes until it is cooked and with grill marks. What you have done was just the reverse-sear method which should result into a nice brown and caramelized crust.
Checking for Doneness
Check the steaks for doneness. Meat thermometers are always precise regardless of how thick your steak is. To check for doneness of the steak, meat thermometer should reach:
- Rare – 130° F
- Medium rare – 140° F
- Medium- 150° F
- Well done – 160° F
Preparing to Serve
Allow the steaks to rest for 5 minutes per inch or 10 minutes per pound. So for I pound steak at 1 ½ inch thick that should be around 15 minutes.
Resting the steaks before slicing and eating is important for thick steaks to allow the redistribution on juices all over the meat instead of leaching out to the chopping board.
Method 2: Cooking Thick Steaks in the Oven and Pan (REVERSE SEARED STEAKS)
If grilling is not your cup of tea for the day, or if there is no way you can do some grilling, you can still cook delicious thick steak first in the oven and finishing it up in the pan. This method will give you steak with a nice crust and a tender and pink inside.
What You Will Need
- Steak, 1 ½ inch thick Rib-eye
- Kosher Salt
- Olive Oil
- Cast iron skillet
- Baking dish or roasting pan.
- Meat thermometer
Salting the Steak
Sprinkle salt and pepper over the surface of the steak 30 minutes before cooking. You can also salt the steak and place it overnight in the refrigerator uncovered. Make sure steak is very dry before cooking.
Preparing the Steak for the Oven
Pre-heat the oven to 2000F. If you refrigerated the steaks, bring it at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Transfer steaks to a baking dish or roasting pan and insert thermometer. Place inside the oven. Cook steak until temperature inside the oven reaches 1150F. This will take about 20 minutes for a 1 ½ inch steak and about 40 minutes for thick ones.
Remove steaks from the oven when it has reached desired temperature. At this point you can proceed to searing or place the steaks in the refrigerator covered and sear at a later time.
If you are going to immediately proceed to searing make sure steak is very dry. Rub olive oil on the steak and season with salt and pepper. Place steak in cast iron pan and sear at high heat for about 2 minutes on each side or until you achieve a nice crust.
Preparing to Serve
When done remove steak from pan. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting and eating.
Method 3: Cooking Thick Steak Using Sous Vide
You can also cook thick steak in an immersion circulator using the sous vide method and enjoy the most tender and flavorful steak ever. The Sous Vide method will cook your steak in a vacuum sealed bag immersed in a water bath.
What You Will Need
- 1 ½ inch Rib-eye steak
- Salt and Pepper
- Rosemary sprigs, thyme or any other herbs for the aroma
- Canola, vegetable or rice bran oil
- Vacuum sealed bags
- Immersion Circulator
- Stock pot
- Vacuum sealer
- Cast Iron or Stainless Steel Skillet
Preparing the Immersion Circulator
Place water ¾ full in a stockpot. Dip immersion circulator inside stock pot with water (water bath) and turn the device on.
Prepping Steak for Sous Vide
Generously season the steak with salt and pepper. Make sure to season the edges of the steak as well. Sprinkle rosemary sprigs, thyme and other desired herbs inside the vacuum sealed bag. Place the steak inside the bag.
Make sure to evenly distribute the aromatics on both sides of the steak.
Vacuum Pack the Steak
Tightly seal the bag either with a vacuum sealer. If using zipper-lock bags, do the displacement to remove air inside the bag. Lower the unsealed bagged steak into the stockpot with water while holding on to tip of the bag.
Allow the pressure of the water to release air through the top opening of the bag. When most of the air has been released, carefully seal the bag which is still just above the water line.
Cooking the Steak Sous Vide
Lower the bag with steak into the water bath. The steak should sink all the way to the bottom of the stock if it is properly sealed.
Set the temperature and cooking time in the immersion circulator depending on your desired doneness.
- Rare- 120°F to 128°F for 1 to 2 1/2 hours
- Medium-rare129°F to 134°F for 1 to 4 hours
- Medium – 135°F to 144°F for 1 to 4 hours
- Medium-well -145°F to 155°F1 to 3 1/2 hours
- Well-done – 156°F and up for1 to 3 hours
Finish Cooking on the Stovetop
When desired cooking time has been reached, remove the bagged steak from the stock pot. Line a plate with paper towel. Remove the steak from the bag and place it on the plate with paper towel.
Carefully pat dry the steak with the paper towel. Make sure the steak is very dry on both sides.
Notice that the steak is not brown on the surface after sous vide. To achieve a nice brown color, added texture and flavor, sear the steak in a skillet. You can also opt to sear the steak in the grill.
Pre-heat the cast iron or stainless steel skillet. Add one tablespoon of cooking oil to the skillet and place it on the hottest burner.
Place steak in the skillet with tongs. You may add one tablespoon of butter char and blacken to allow steak to quickly achieve a dark crust. It will also add a charred and slightly bitter flavor to your steak.
You may omit the butter for a cleaner-tasting steak. Cook the steak for about two minutes on each side.
Many say the Reverse Sear is the best way to cook a thick steak. Cooking thick steak in the oven first and then searing in a hot pan will give you a tender and perfect thick steak with a burnished and crisp crust.
Using the reverse sear cooking method on your thick steak will give you dinner that is evenly cooked. It should also have crisp and browned crust with pink and tender meat underneath. Cooking thick steak at its driest possible state will give you the moistest thick steak.
Never get intimidated with a thick steak because there are tried and tested techniques on how to easily cook thick steaks to perfection.