Think of steak and you probably first think of cooking it on the grill, followed by pan-sauteing on the stovetop. But you also can cook steaks in the oven. High-temperature roasting is fast and no-fuss, producing a well-browned steak with delicious drippings that can be used as the basis for a pan sauce or gravy.
In general, beef destined for oven roasting should be at least 2 inches thick and well-marbled. Too thin or too lean and the meat will dry out and become tough. The steak also should be relatively tender; it will not become more tender while baking in the oven. Good cuts for roasting include New York strip and top loin.
Marinades Versus Dry Rubs
While you can marinade your meat before oven roasting if you like, marinades usually are most successful with less-tender cuts of beef cooked at a lower temperature. Instead, try a dry rub of fresh or dried herbs and spices. You also can successfully oven-roast beef with no more seasoning than salt and pepper.
An optional step but one that can provide a great deal of extra flavor, is to brown the steak in a skillet on each side before baking. If your skillet is oven-safe, after browning you can put both steak and skillet directly into the oven to finish cooking.
For steaks, the best oven-based technique to use is to roast at a high temperature. Set your oven to 450 degrees. Cook to no more than medium-rare -- an internal temperature of 135 degrees. For small cuts, this might take as little as 20 minutes.
To Baste Or Not To Baste
Many people believe they must baste any meat cooking in the oven or it will dry out, but Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly, in "The Complete Meat Cookbook," comment that "we don't think basting does much for roasted meat -- it just washes away seasonings from the surface and doesn't contribute to juiciness at all." Cooking instructor James Peterson further notes that basting with any liquid other than the fat from the meat itself will "cause the roast to steam and inhibit browning."
Where There's Smoke
One caution: High-temperature roasting can generate a bit of smoke, so if you have poor ventilation or a sensitive smoke alarm, you might want to make accommodations or try a different cooking technique.
- "The Complete Meat Cookbook"; Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly; 1998
- "Meat: A Kitchen Education"; James Peterson; 2010