"Meat and potatoes" has long been a phrase meant to describe something as "basic," but when the meat is a perfectly cooked, pan-seared steak and the potatoes are golden brown and coated in an herbed garlic butter, there's nothing basic about it.
A good steak doesn't have to come off a grill. In the winter, at least here in Minnesota, pan-searing our steaks tends to be a more practical technique that can yield equally delicious results.
Of course, as is true with all cooking, the better the ingredients, the better the results. In this case, the ingredient is steak — and not just any steak. For this dish, we are looking for a good quality steak. My favorite cuts would be New York strip or rib-eye, although a well-marbled sirloin will also be tasty.
Thickness also matters when it comes to getting the right texture. It's difficult to get a nice crust on the outside without overcooking the inside if you're working with a thin steak. So, I look for steaks at least 1½ inches thick.
Seasoning them early will ensure maximum flavor. You can season your steak shortly before cooking, with good results, but for a memorably juicy steak, with a full, beefy flavor throughout, I like to season my steak the night before and keep it uncovered in the refrigerator. This gives the meat the time it needs to expel its moisture, which mingles with the salt on the surface, and then reabsorb it back into the steak. For any of you helping kids with science class, this is called osmosis.
The cooking part of the recipe is easy. Just get a large, heavy-bottomed skillet (cast-iron is a solid choice), get it good and hot and cook the steaks, flipping them over a few times in the process.
Toward the end I add a generous knob of butter, along with some smashed garlic and fresh herbs, and baste the steaks continuously. This not only adds big flavor but helps further develop its crust.
While the steak rests before carving, I put the leftover butter in the skillet to good use, browning parboiled potatoes until golden.
Meat and potatoes never tasted so good.
Garlic and Herb Butter-Basted Steak and Potatoes
Note: Starting with an extra-thick quality cut of beef helps to ensure a perfectly cooked steak — in this case, basted with a garlicky butter and served with browned baby potatoes. From Meredith Deeds.
• 2 steaks (18 to 22 oz. each, at least 1 1/2 in. thick), such as boneless rib-eye, New York strip or sirloin
• 1 1/4 tsp. salt, divided
• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided
• 20 oz. baby Yukon Gold potatoes
• 2 tsp. vegetable oil
• 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed
• 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
• 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
Pat steaks dry and season both sides with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain potatoes and let cool slightly on a cutting board. Cut potatoes in half.
In a 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably cast iron), heat oil over high heat. Add steaks and cook, flipping every 2 minutes, for 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add the butter, garlic, rosemary and thyme and continue to cook for another 2 to 4 minutes, frequently spooning the butter over the steaks, until they reach desired doneness. Transfer to a cutting board.
Meanwhile, place potatoes in the same skillet, cut side down, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until golden browned on the bottom. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and stir to coat potatoes in the herb butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 3 to 4 minutes, until browned in spots. Transfer to a serving platter.
Transfer steaks to a cutting board and pour any accumulated steak juices from the plate into same skillet to mix with any remaining herb butter. Carve steaks and transfer to the serving platter with the potatoes, drizzle with the juices and butter from the skillet and serve.
Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Instagram at @meredithdeeds.