The best way to oil your pan before cooking a steak is to not oil it at all.
Seriously, back away. Put the oil down. It might be scary, but let's try something new.
We like to oil the actual steak instead of the pan we cook it in, ditching the middleman and applying our oil of choice directly onto the meat. It's a pretty simple changeup, but it makes a world of difference in the steak cooking experience.
The technique is used by chefs like Alex Raij, Bobby Flay, Heston Blumenthal, and our senior food editor Andy Baraghani, who says it's especially useful if you have a small kitchen.
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Right off the bat, it's healthier. Rubbing your steak in oil eliminates extra fat pooling in the pan. That means the steak you're cooking won't end up soaking in oil after the internal fat renders.
What was that? Oh, it was your heart saying, "I can eat more steak now? Thanks a bunch!"
Having less fat in your pan also cuts down on smoke, which makes it less likely that your neighbor Gary will complain when you leave your front door open to air out the apartment. If there isn't any extra oil to burn, the air in your kitchen will be clear, Gary can watch his Discovery Channel shows in peace, and your coat won't smell like a grease trap for the next three weeks.
Oiling the steak directly also guarantees coverage of the entire piece of meat, including all the nooks and crannies that might be missed when oiling just the pan. By using only enough oil to coat the steak, you’ll get beautifully rendered fat on a perfectly caramelized piece of meat. That's the kind of cooking that will make your parents proud of you (for once).
And remember, just because we like to use this technique for steak doesn't mean you can't use it for a pork chop or lamb chop. It's the same basic principle. Sometimes, less is less. You know, in a good way.