Steak and Eggs (American Breakfast / Diner Style)
by Phillip Koh.
- NY Steak strip, already cut thinner in breakfast style – I believe about quarter inch (or 1/3 inch) thick, I just looked for ones that were cut this way, but if you can’t find this, I suggest slice it in half. Stay within half inch thickness as breakfast steaks at the diners are never too thick, at least in the real diners not the make-believe ones. For half inch thick steaks, increase the cooking time by one minute (but adjust for heat level) on each side.
- 2 Eggs – I use Cage free eggs and/or Organic, but hey, use whatever you can afford or have
- vegetable/peanut oil, or butter. I used a little bit of organic butter (for egg scramble only) and a dash or two of peanut oil for panfying the meat in my case.
- Steak Sauce! You will most definitely need a good Steak sauce for this recipe, because it is so simple, the steak sauce is Boss in this American Diner style cuisine! I used A-1 sauce here, worked Amazing in this simple recipe, but I also love Heinz 57 Sauce!
- Salt! I use Seasalt the most, and Himalayan Pink Salt next, but use Kosher salt if you’d like!
- Freshly ground black Pepper – please apply this After it’s cooked, not during.
- milk – for scrambled eggs, and to drink! 🙂
- Ketchup (for the eggs, optional, but highly recommended – I have been using Heinz brand Organic Ketchup, and man, it’s amazingly delicious! (if not then regular non-organic Ketchup are great too of course! Heinz is my favorite but Hunts brand is fine as well!
- Hotsauce (optional) when in doubt use Tobasco or frank’s hot sauce. Louisiana hot sauce should work fine also, just use your (any) favorite hot sauce and experiment!
Tools / Kitchen gadgets used: Stainless Steel Frying Pan (you won’t need lid for this recipe), stainless steel spatula
Steak and Eggs is a type of an American breakfast that most people normally get at a local Diner restaurant. It’s the kind of restaurant where a friendly/seasoned waitress refills your coffee mug every so many minutes without even having to ask them. It’s also a food that many of us take for granted because it seems so plain. There is a strong Diner culture across the United States, more so in the rural areas than not, but eating at Diners with your family (or other personal /professional associates) is uniquely an American experience. But I realized the food can be had in the same or at least similar ways anywhere, as the recipe is quite simple and ingredients are generally available to the mass and this meal can be cooked at home easily, and quickly. I have been cooking steaks for many years now, in so many variations and techniques. I wasn’t classically trained as a Chef, so I did a lot of cooking (including steaks) without first learning how to. It had its advantages, and it had its disadvantages. Advantages were that I was able to be creative and by tons of trial and error, was able to pick up some of the experiential knowledge in cooking you can’t really get by just learning and not doing. Disadvantages were that, during a lot of those sessions, I essentially didn’t know what I was doing. It’s hard to justify putting in 3-5 times as much seasonings than what a normal professional chef would do that works at a nice restaurant. It took me a long time to succumb and give in to the idea that sometimes – or many times – overdoing things when it comes to cooking in the way of using too much spices, is detrimental to the tastebuds and in a way violates the purity of the taste of the ingredient – meat for example – and overrides it when it shouldn’t.
One simple recipe / techniques that is overlooked often is Steak and Eggs. No one taught me how to do this really, but one day I was sitting around and wondered about the fact that everytime I go to a diner I am either ordering Steak and Eggs, or at least considering it while ordering something else. So I concluded I loved that menu item. and there was something different that I wasn’t previously aware of. After a brief contemplation, the difference I thought, must be in its simplicity, quality of ingredients, the marriage of meat with appropriate steaksauce, and the cooking techniques(pan temperature, etc).
This is what I came up with, as my interpretation of the American Diner experience, in the way of classic Steak and Eggs: Cook it with just salt, panfry it over high heat, sear both sides, take it off the grill before it gets overdone.
The result are the pictures above. I did this a few times, and I’m definitely getting it down. The result, was VERY nice. So I’m blogging about it like this.
So what was the key? Simplicty and quality of ingredients. I used NY Steak Strip, which is higher priced than other breakfast steak meats, but I just buy them when they are on sale, I keep one or two in the fridge for consumption soon and then vacuum save the rest and deep freeze them so they can be had for quite reasonable price when they are managed that way. Of course you’ll have to thaw the meat if you freeze them first – I normally transfer the meat from deep freezer to my fridge and leave it there for a day or so that way it is already thawed (to large degree) but you can use the defrost method alone or in conjunction with that more natural thawing in the fridge. Be careful to pack well before you freeze to prevent freezeburns or mix of scent of other things in the freezer, if you don’t vaccume save them well like I do – use ONLY salt before you cook it, you can put salt immediately before cooking or overnight it – overnight method will result in a significantly different taste from the marination from salt and the dehydration of the meat from the salting. I actually loved the salty steak after salting/curing overnight, but try this as a secondary/alternative method because it’s not a normal thing and one is less likely to like that method, and it is more likely to be saltier than what an average person would like. (but I loved it, with the salty taste and the new texture) one thing to notice when you do that, the meat will lose some water and the cooking time will need to be shorter – significantly shorter in my short experience of that.
Salt both sides of the steak, and then heat up the pan to at least 350F and no more than 400F preferably (medium setting should be fine on your stove otherwise). coat the surface of the pan with just a dash or two of (preferably) peanut oil per side of the meat (or vegetable oil should work fine, but they are not as tasty and also has lower smoking point so you’ll need to watch the heat more)
Be sure to wait until the pan is hot enough. That is the key that I had to learn the hard way when grilling meat. And I think this is part of the reason why cooking isn’t so easy to many people – because you can’t have it too cool, you can’t have it too hot. (if you are using oil that is at least) If the pan smokes a lot, that means the pan surface got too hot (accumulated heat) for the oil so take the pan off the heat source and cool off for a bit quickly that way bec. its gonna get out of control if you don’t. I would even seriously consider rinsing the pan and reapplying fresh oil if that happens. I think a little bit of smoking is acceptable, it’s hard to control the temperature because most stoves don’t have temperature control and it’s difficult to hit that sweet spot (375-400, depending on oil/smoking point but that to me appear to be the sweet spot if I had to put it generally like this) but I assume a lot of smoking of oil just can’t be good in different ways. When the recipe is this simple, cooking technique and quality of ingredients are very important.
when the oil is heated up, then put in the meat. leave it in for about a minute.
flip the meat to the second side, give it another minute.
After the second side has been cooking for a minute (more or less), take the pan off the stove and meat off the pan to stop the cooking.
The actual cooking time will depend on how thick your steak is (slice in half if too thick for this recipe) so if its thinner than third of an inch or so, then i wouldn’t even leave it in there for a minute. do half a minute per side for example. Cooking time required will also depend on how cold/warm the steak meat is raw right before you cook it. So adjust for those variables accordingly. just use common sense and intuition to guide you. Instead of flipping one time only you can flip multiple times and balance it out if you want, but of course the cooking time for each surface of meat will be significantly shorter that way. You’d be surprised how much you already know by just looking at the situation and asking “how much does it seem like a good amount for salt(or other things) and try it. you may get them wrong a couple times, but you’ll quickly learn that fits your particular situaition that goes around in your kitchen.. and learn to control temperature better and learn to season / salt to taste and also control temperature better with, or without fancy tools like I use (I use laser temperature thermometer gun when I grill now)
if you want it “dirty” style – cook it in the same pan, apply little bit of butter or peanut / vegetable oil to the pan.
beat/whisk 2 eggs plus milk in a small mixing bowl. mixture should be consistent.
leave it in there for a bit on a heating/hot pan so it cooks/coagulates a bit.
use heat resistant silicon spatula or bamboo or wood utensils (as I do) to stir around
put maybe a tablespoon of milk (or a ‘splash’). mix them together
salt and pepper to one’s tasting (you can do this toward the end of cooking or after they are cooked, or probably best of all – mix them together in the mixing bowl with eggs and milk once you figure out exactly how much salt and pepper you like. I recommend using salt Before cooking (or during cooking if you must) and black pepper After they are cooked. The black pepper when freshly ground is amazing spice as everyone know but i think they can get burnt too easily and simply don’t need to be cooked.
Before eggs get hardened, turn off the heat and remove it from the heating surface. it’ll keep cooking, I suggest taking them off the pan and transfer them to a plate when they are almost done or done, should still be soft.
If you want eggs “clean” as opposed to the “dirty” in the same pan, use a seperate pan, apply butter/oil and beaten eggs and salt and pepper the same way, just using a fresh pan will keep the eggs pure and soft and delicious. but you will have an extra pan to clean lol.
Sauce is Boss:
For this recipe, you will Need steak sauce. If you don’t, your experience will at the least be different than what I am actually presenting here (and intending to present). Also, when you go to a diner, I don’t think many people will eat the plain steak without the steak sauce so adding the steak sauce actually authenticate the American Diner food experience. Pour either A1 steak sauce, or Heinz 57 steak sauce, on top of the steak before/as you eat the steak. (Or any other Steak sauce of your choice.) I recommend A1 or Heinz 57 because I love them both in different ways, and they taste so much different from each other but both so delicious. The steak sauce works really well and bring out the optimal flavor when (and pretty much only when) they are cooked unadulterated with salt only. (and with pepper added at some point)
Hot sauce is truly optional, but I like it. but use it ONLY when you are also using the steak sauce, it just wouldn’t be right if you use hot sauce and no steak sauce. If you insist you go plain all the way without steak sauce or hot sauce, I strongly recommend you at least try salting the meat overnight with fair amount of salt and cure it / dehydrate it a bit before cooking it the next day. Please use a splash or two of hot sauce, and that’s it. otherwise it’ll kind of ruin the taste.
Hope you enjoyed the blog, if you ever try this recipe, leave me a comment and let me know how you liked it, or how I can improve my recipe, thanks!