Pan-frying is similar to sautéing except that a little more oil is used, the cuts of beef do not have to be thin, and the cooking process may require more time. Like sautéing, high heat is used to sear the meat, creating a flavorful browned crust. The meat is patted with paper towels to remove excess moisture, seasoning is added, and then it is placed into a hot skillet containing heated oil. The oil should sizzle when the
meat hits the pan: if it doesn't sizzle, it is an indication that the
pan and oil are not hot enough.
The skillet should have a heavy bottom so that heat will be conducted more easily. A large, well-seasoned, cast-iron skillet works well or a heavy nonstick pan may be used. Make sure the pan is of adequate size so that there is plenty of room for the meat to brown. If the pan is crowded, the meat will steam more than it will brown. Do not use a fork to turn the beef in the pan because piercing the meat will allow juices to escape. A tongs or spatula are the best instruments to use.
Beefsteaks up to an inch thick are good candidates for pan-frying. The goal is to produce meat that has a brown, crispy surface with tender, juicy, and flavorful meat inside. Steaks may be fried to any degree of doneness that is desired, but the internal temperature should reach 145°F to ensure that harmful bacteria have been destroyed. A meat thermometer can be used to check the internal temperature. A thick steak that has been cooked to an internal temperature of 140°F or so, may be removed from the pan, covered, and allowed to rest for a few minutes. The temperature will continue to rise about 5°F, reaching the proper doneness. This also allows the remaining meat juices to settle resulting in tender, flavorful steak.