Our problem is that so much smoke is produced from the pan that the second try set off our smoke detectors and prompted a visit from the fire department! What are we doing wrong here?
Sent by Joe
Editor: Joe, we have a couple of guesses here:
• The heat is too high.
• You are using an oil with a low smoke point (such as olive oil).
There will always be some flaring and spitting when you are searing a piece of meat. You want the meat to brown, after all! But this browning doesn't need to happen all at once; you can cook it for a few minutes (4 or 5 at least) on each side over medium-high heat to get the color you want.
Also, it sounds like the fat in the pan may have been burning — not the meat. Olive oil is particularly bad for a recipe like this. Try grapeseed oil or another oil with a high smoke point. Also, depending on the cut of beef, you need very little extra fat — just a smear of oil.
Here are a couple of posts that may be useful.
Readers, what advice do you have for Joe?
Related: How To Cook a Steak in the Oven
(Image: Faith Durand)