Pan searing steak with less smoke?

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Joined Jul 15, 2016
Saw a topic on this from a few years ago but figured I would try to get a new discussion going.

Basically, I am having a problem - I cook steaks in an iron skillet on the stove in my condo. The amount of smoke generated (for thicker steaks) is unbearable. I'm not saying there is a lot of smoke, I am saying it is absolutely unbearable. I can't walk into the kitchen for more than 5 seconds without coughing and my eyes tearing up once the steak has been on for more than 5-6 minutes. It consumes my whole house, and leaves a marked smell for a day or so in the house and on any clothing or surface near the kitchen. The steaks turn out great, but when I have guests over they usually have to stay outside my house for 10 minutes or so while I cook them. My upstairs neighbors often come running out thinking something is on fire. My fire alarm often goes off even when I detach it and put it in the master bathroom, several rooms away from my kitchen, and with two sealed doors between it and the kitchen. Is there anything I can do about this?

More info: I cook to medium-rare high heat, I flip after 3 mins one side, 3 mins another, then 1 or 2 on each side again depending on thickness. I use a generous amount of high-temp grilling olive oil spray. I season steaks with kosher salt and some seasoning from my dad's favorite butcher back in Michigan and leave steak to thaw in fridge for 1-3 days before cooking. My oven fan does not work, I need to fix it but even when it did work it was still problematic. I open all windows and even front door with two fans in kitchen and smoke is still a huge issue.

Thanks!
 
7,676
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Joined Apr 3, 2008
There is no smoke-free way to cook a steak indoors correctly.  You can do it on a low heat or in the oven but that won't get you the result you achieve with your method.  The only solution is to get a better ventilation system.  I don't cook steaks indoors for this very reason, and also why we are having a new ventilation system installed later this summer.  In the meantime we continue to cook our steaks outdoors.
 
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Joined May 27, 2013
I use a generous amount of high-temp grilling olive oil spray.
I think that may be your problem. Olive oil doesn't have a high smoke point. 

Try grapeseed oil or ghee. Sparingly. Allow the fat to render from the steak for additional lubricant. I sometimes sear the sides first, where the fat is, before flipping onto the face. 

Anectdote : I don't remember what I was making at my parents condo a while back (I think it was either searing a pork roast or toasting garlic in olive oil) and it also smoked up the kitchen. I opened the window (they had ac) and the exterior kitchen door like an idiot (since it was directly to the hall way) thinking the draft would clear the smoke out the window. I did this for approx. one minute when I realized the draft went the other way. About 5 minutes later the fire department showed up at the door. 

I invited them in for dinner but they respectfully declined my invitation. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/redface.gif  
 
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Cooking spray?  I've never seen a real cook use cooking spray.  Toss it out.

Rub your steaks with a THIN coat of neutral high temp oil.  Do not pool in the pan.  It will still smoke, but not enough to make you cry and cough.
 
4,769
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Joined Aug 21, 2004
Do you have a patio, porch, balcony, etc? Do you have 2 cast iron skillets? If so, heat both up dry. Oil your steaks. Take first pan and steaks outside. Put steaks in pan and sear. While that is happening go back inside and get second pan. Bring outside and flip your steaks and sear in second pan. Third pan would be great for final cooking, if not reheat first pan while second side searing is going on.
 
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Joined Dec 30, 2013
You might want to give the reverse sear method a try to cut down on the smoke since that's the issue.

And I agree with others that using a higher smoke point oil would be a wise thing to do.
 
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I concur with the others that your want to move away from the olive oil and try grapeseed or canola.

This method is rather unconventional, but you could try baking the steak at a low temp (250) for just a short amount of time, take it out and then sear it. Heston Blumenthal talks about this method. The idea is to get the steak already warm so it doesn't drop the temp of the pan when you begin to sear. You then continue to flip it over every minute or so. Color will develop faster on the outside of the steak, requiring less time to smoke up in the pan. Continuously flipping it over will brown the steak on the outside without cooking the interior too much. 
 
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Joined Jan 4, 2011
WOW. I stayed away from this thread because everyone disagrees with me and nobody believes what I say anyway. I do steaks inside with a cast pan all the time. I have a simple vent. My kitchen windows are almost always open. Steaks are at room temp seasoned with olive oil and worcestershire sauce, Webber's Veggie Grill and Chicago Steak. Pan is screaming hot. I just pre-wipe it with some olive before putting it on; kinda like seasoning the pan. In go the steaks. Depending on the size, +/-4-6 minutes on 1 side. 1 flip when it releases. Into a pre-heated oven @ 350* for another +/- 8-10 minutes. All done. Med-rare steaks. No out of bounds smoke. No fire dept.

There is nothing wrong with cooking spray. I hate grapeseed, rapeseed or canola oil. Hey ... that's just me. I go with olive oil or peanut oil. Flipping steaks a zillion times gets you NO color. Whoever tells you different is wrong. Flip once when the steak releases from the pan or grill. All the color in the world. If you want to be fancy, call it a maillard reaction. I call it caramelization. (they are both actually different reactions ... but you should get the point) It's beautiful. That's why the general public can't grill a simple chx breast. They try to flip it before it releases and they rip it apart. Then they cook the ever-loving bageebies out of it until it's like cardboard.

Cook a steak with ghee?!? I love that idea. Serve it to all your converted friends from India who have decided to eat cows.
 
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IceMan, you can get absolutely get good color by flipping if the pan is hot enough. I have done it many times. It also gives you a more consistent pink interior from crust to crust, because the heat is not allowed enough time to fully cook through on one side. I encourage you to give it another try. 
 
7,676
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Joined Apr 3, 2008
 
IceMan, you can get absolutely get good color by flipping if the pan is hot enough. I have done it many times. It also gives you a more consistent pink interior from crust to crust, because the heat is not allowed enough time to fully cook through on one side. I encourage you to give it another try. 
Sometimes my husband does a method while cooking on a grill where he flips the steak continuously.  It cooks almost like a rotisserie.  It's fantastic but he's too lazy to do it often.
 
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Joined Jun 23, 2015
 
I concur with the others that your want to move away from the olive oil and try grapeseed or canola.

This method is rather unconventional, but you could try baking the steak at a low temp (250) for just a short amount of time, take it out and then sear it. Heston Blumenthal talks about this method. The idea is to get the steak already warm so it doesn't drop the temp of the pan when you begin to sear. You then continue to flip it over every minute or so. Color will develop faster on the outside of the steak, requiring less time to smoke up in the pan. Continuously flipping it over will brown the steak on the outside without cooking the interior too much. 
Good way to get well done steak.  IceMan is very close to correct. 
 
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Joined Jun 20, 2016
His way is correct. This is just a different way to gets me really good results. When I put the steak in the oven I am not trying to cook it-I'm just gently bringing it up to temp, so it doesn't drop the temp of the pan in the searing process
 
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Joined Aug 21, 2004
WOW. I stayed away from this thread because everyone disagrees with me and nobody believes what I say anyway.
I am going to have to disagree and don't believe that for a second. ψ(`Д´)ψ  Muahahahahahaha!!!
 
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Hell I just trim off a piece of fat and lube my skillet that way.  I season the steak with corse salt and pepper then into a smoking hot skillet, when it releases I turn it onto the other (hot) side and when it releases again it's done.  Pour a drink while it's resting and enjoy!!
 
2,838
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Joined Jan 4, 2011
Americans eat lots of stuff. They also get jokes/wisecracks. Cooking a steak shouldn't need the expense and/or complication of needing stuff like ghee.











Good spelling correction/edit.
 
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