Our pan-seared porterhouse steak recipe brings out the best from this premium cut: its rich flavor, tenderness, and juiciness. But this recipe is more than just a set of instructions. It’s also a guide that delves into why we’ve chosen this particular method for pan-searing the porterhouse.
The porterhouse steak, while delicious, is one of the more complicated steaks to cook in a pan. What makes it particularly tricky is its dual nature, featuring two distinct cuts of beef (new york strip and filet mignon) separated by a bone. However, this recipe is easier than you think. Follow the instructions below, and you’ll love the results.
The Ingredients You’ll Need
To prepare a delicious porterhouse steak infused with an herb-butter flavor using a skillet, you’ll need just a handful of well-known ingredients:
- A 1.5 to 2 inches thick porterhouse steak
- High-smoke point oil (We recommend avocado oil)
- Kosher salt
- Finely ground pepper
- Unsalted butter
- Garlic cloves
- Fresh Thyme or Rosemary
The Tools You’ll Need
- Cast Iron Skillet
- Instant Read Thermometer
How to Cook Porterhouse Steak on a Stove
Here is the step-by-step guide for preparing the perfect porterhouse steak in a skillet on a stove. Please don’t skip any details, as we offer numerous valuable tips. If you’re new to pan-searing steaks, we recommend studying the instructions multiple times to ensure a smooth cooking experience.
Note: When buying a porterhouse steak, choose one between 1.5 and 2 inches thick. We’ve chosen a steak that’s 1.5 inches thick for this recipe. Why is this so important? A steak with the right thickness is the key to achieving the perfect balance between the interior and exterior of the steak – especially if you prefer medium-rare doneness.
Step 1: Prepare the Porterhouse Steak
The preparation of the steak varies depending on when you plan to cook it and the specific result you’re aiming for. Here are three options to consider:
- Option 1 (Not recommended): If you’re in a hurry and want to cook the steak immediately, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes, then move to the next step.
- Option 2 (For a better flavor and crust): Remove the steak from the refrigerator, season it generously on all sides with salt, and let it rest on a rack for at least 40-50 minutes. After the resting period, you’re ready for step 2.
- Option 3 (Highly Recommended): For the best results, generously salt the steak on all sides and place it on a rack in the refrigerator for 24 hours. When you’re ready to cook the next day, take the steak out and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Move on to step 2 afterward. You’ll notice that the steak’s surface is drier 24 hours post-salting, making it ideal for pan-searing.
Important advice: Avoid searing a steak between 10 to 40 minutes after salting. Achieving the best crust requires the steak’s surface to be as dry as possible. In the window between 10 to 40 minutes post-salting, the salt draws out significant moisture from the steak, which can compromise your crust.
Step 2: Preheat the Cast-Iron Skillet
To achieve the best results, ensure the pan reaches a temperature of at least 450°F. Preheat a thick pan, ideally a cast-iron skillet, on high heat for 3-4 minutes. While it’s heating up, season your steak with pepper and garlic.
Note: It’s best to use very finely ground seasonings. This ensures the steak maintains maximum contact with the skillet’s surface during cooking.
After the skillet has been preheated for 3-4 minutes, add one tablespoon of oil with a high smoke point. Wait for a minute, then move on to the third step.
Note: We recommend using avocado oil. Not only does it have a smoke point of about 510°F, but it also offers a neutral flavor.
Step 3: Place the Porterhouse Steak in the Skillet
Carefully place the steak in the skillet. Keep in mind both the oil and pan are extremely hot. Gently press the steak to ensure maximum contact with the skillet’s surface. When you do this, expect a sizzle and a fair amount of smoke – this is completely normal.
Sear the steak, flipping it every 1-2 minutes until a thermometer reads an internal temperature of approximately 110°F. Then, reduce the heat to low and add the crushed garlic clove, rosemary (or thyme), and butter to the pan. Allow the butter to melt.
While the butter is melting, take the opportunity to sear the steak’s sides quickly.
Note: In our experience, it took roughly 5-7 minutes to cook a 1.5-inch thick porterhouse steak to reach an internal temperature of 110°F. However, various factors can influence the cooking time, so your experience might differ. Always use a reliable instant-read thermometer for monitoring your steak’s temperature. If you don’t own one, consider purchasing; it’s a worthwhile investment.
Step 4: Baste the Porterhouse Steak with Butter
Tilt the pan to collect the melted butter, lightly seared garlic, and herbs at its bottom edge. Then, baste the steak with the butter consistently for 30 to 60 seconds on each side using a spoon. Afterward, check the steak’s temperature and continue cooking until it’s 10°F to 15°F below your desired doneness, and then remove it from the pan.
Note: We aimed for medium-rare for this recipe, so we took the steak out at approximately 120°F. Remember that the steak’s temperature will rise by as much as 10°F due to carryover cooking once removed from the pan. That’s why removing the steak at the right moment and allowing it to rest is crucial.
Step 5: Let the Porterhouse Steak Rest
Place the steak on a cutting board or, ideally, on a rack that allows airflow around the entire steak. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes (depending on thickness). Five minutes is the generally accepted minimum.
Note: Allowing the steak to rest isn’t just about the temperature. If you slice the steak immediately after cooking, it will release a significant amount of its juices. Instead, letting it rest for 5 to 10 minutes will enable the steak’s muscles to relax and the juices to redistribute. As a result, when you finally cut the steak, juice loss will be minimal. For a more detailed explanation with examples, refer to our guide on “The Importance of Resting Steak“.
How long does it take to sear strip steak on the stove?
For our 1.5-inch thick porterhouse steak, we seared it on the stove for about 8-10 minutes to achieve medium-rare doneness, maintaining the skillet’s temperature at around 450-500°F. However, remember that the searing duration for a porterhouse steak can vary based on its thickness, your desired level of doneness, and the skillet’s temperature.
Also, remember the times provided here are merely guidelines. It’s always best to rely on thermometer readings and to approach any suggested cooking times with caution to ensure a perfectly cooked steak every time.
Is porterhouse steak better pan-seared or grilled?
Both pan-searing and grilling offer fantastic flavors, but we strongly prefer grilling a porterhouse over pan-searing for even cooking and crust formation.
The tenderloin section of the porterhouse cooks faster than the strip section because the filet mignon is leaner. This makes evenly cooking an entire porterhouse steak in a pan challenging. Additionally, the bone often creates a barrier, preventing the two sections from fully contacting the pan’s surface and affecting the crust formation. One might suggest weighing the steak down as a solution, but not everyone has the necessary tools in their kitchen for this task. On the grill, it’s a different story.
Grilling provides the flexibility to adjust the heat, allowing both the strip and tenderloin sections to reach similar internal temperatures. This adaptability is a primary reason many, including us, believe the porterhouse shines brightest on the grill. Moreover, the grill excels in producing a crust that’s challenging to replicate in a pan.
Pan Seared Porterhouse Steak
- 1 porterhouse steak 1.5 to 2 inches thick
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- ½ stick butter unsalted
- 1 tablespoon High-smoke point oil we recommend refined avocado oil
- 2-4 garlic cloves
- thyme or rosemary fresh
- Prepare the Porterhouse Steak: Dry steak with a paper towel, then choose a salting method:Option 1: Allow steak to sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.Option 2: Generously season steak with salt and rest on a rack for 40-50 minutes.Option 3: Salt steak, refrigerate on a rack for 24 hours, then let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.Tip: Avoid searing 10 to 40 minutes post-salting. The best crust requires a dry steak surface.
- Preheat the Cast-Iron SkilletPreheat skillet on high heat for 3-4 minutes. In the meantime, season steak with finely ground pepper and garlic. Add one tablespoon of high smoke point oil and wait a minute.
- Sear the Steak in the SkilletPlace steak in skillet and press for maximum contact. Flip every 1-2 minutes until the internal temperature is approximately 110°F. Then reduce heat to low, add garlic, rosemary/thyme, and butter. Melt butter and, in the meantime, sear the steak's sides.Note: Cooking time can vary. Use a thermometer to monitor the steak's temperature.
- Baste the Steak with ButterTilt the pan to collect butter, garlic, and herbs, then baste the steak for 30-60 seconds on each side. Continue cooking until 10-15°F below desired doneness, then remove from pan.Tip: For medium-rare, remove steak at approximately 120°F. The temperature will rise due to carryover cooking.
- Let the Steak RestRest steak on a cutting board or rack for 5-10 minutes.Note: Resting allows juices to be redistributed, ensuring a juicier steak upon slicing.