An Executive Chef Says This Is The Best Way To Cook Steak For Caesar Salad

Unlike other large salads that can work as a full lunch or dinner, like a Niçoise or Cobb, a classic Caesar salad is a relatively simple thing, with just romaine, croutons, and shaved parmesan. It's mostly a vessel for the delicious dressing, but add in a protein and you're looking at a truly great meal. Its simplicity is what makes it so popular to pair with toppings like beef, chicken, or salmon; the straightforward combo of a Caesar works with almost any protein, and you get something that's both fresh and filling. Of those options, beef may be the most satisfying, with its strong flavor holding up to the equally heavy-hitting Caesar dressing, but you can't cook your meat just any old way and expect good results. So Tasting Table asked an expert, Sean Thompson, the executive chef at Porter House in New York City, how he would cook a steak for his Caesar salad.

When pairing steak with Caesar salad, Thompson is thinking about flavor profiles first and foremost. He says that charbroiling or pan searing is his method of choice, explaining that "the caramelization of the meat balances the pepper and acidity well in a Caesar." That's because charring or pan searing gives you the kind of direct heat that creates a great crust for your steak and lots of browning, resulting in those caramelized flavors.

Charring or searing gives you a well-browned steak that pairs perfectly with Caesar salad

Pan searing and charbroiling are two of the quickest ways to prepare a great steak, so chef Thompson's choice for the tastiest Caesar salad pairing is also one of the easiest. The two keys for getting a good crust are making sure the exterior is nice and dry, since moisture prevents browning, and using a high smoke point oil in the pan so you can get it piping hot. Once your oil is smoking, cook your steak on high, flipping back and forth for the most even browning, until your desired doneness. This can vary from six to 12 minutes depending on thickness, so you'll want to use a meat thermometer to test for doneness. Now, how does Thompson serve the steak once it's cooked? He doesn't wait for it to cool, saying, "I prefer to serve the steak hot, as I love the warm steak with the chilled lettuce."

If you want to really take that caramelization to the next level and get the most flavor out of your steak Caesar salad, there are a lot more simple tips you can follow for a perfectly seared steak, like salting it beforehand to draw out moisture, and making sure its at room temperature before you cook. Follow Thompson's advice for your Caesar salad, sear your steak well, and you'll have a meal you'll be returning to over and over.