Cooking the Perfect Steak

It’s been a crazy week.

Probably more accurate to say “couple of weeks.” It started with Lucas snoring out of the blue. Then it turned into realizing he’d gained 15 pounds and noticing that it was all fluid retention; his legs, feet, and ankles were swollen beyond recognizable. Some blood work at the family doctor pointed to a kidney issue, and Lucas made an appointment to see a specialist. He’d gained 30 pounds of fluid weight by this point. If he would lay flat, the swelling was present in his face and chest. When he woke up this past Monday morning feeling pressure in his chest with a little difficulty breathing, we couldn’t wait for the specialist appointment… it was time to hit the ER. Lucas was admitted Monday afternoon, and they spent all week trying to get to the bottom of his kidney problems. Everything pointed to Nephrotic Syndrome, but why or what the next course of action would be to treat it called for a kidney biopsy.

So what does this have to do with cooking the perfect steak? Well, now that Lucas is home from his hospital stay, fresh from a successful biopsy and awaiting the results so that we know what the next step is, he is on a low sodium diet. Most likely for good. Which means recipes being shared here going forward will either come from a low sodium source or be modified to be low sodium for our needs. There are worse things than being on a low sodium diet, of course, and one positive way to look at it is that typically a low sodium diet will also be healthier all around. If we take this step together to cut down on the sodium, we’ll both benefit. And not just us, but the timing couldn’t be better to get our diets on track to be healthier for our baby due in June.  (Can you believe we’re halfway along now?!)

We could have nearly a week to wait on the biopsy results to find out what treatment will entail for Lucas, and there’s not much we (or doctors) can do between now and then to relieve the fluid retention until that treatment begins, but one thing we CAN control is a low sodium diet in the meantime to help support kidney (and overall) health.

While in the hospital, Lucas was limited to low sodium hospital food. Not horrible, but he was craving REAL food. My dad got a kick out of tempting him with steak and such, so for Lucas’ first meal home I decided to cook him a steak. Plain steak on its own has between 40 and 60 mg of sodium per 3oz serving, depending on the type. I didn’t add any seasonings, and our steaks still turned out perfectly.

Cooking the Perfect Steak

I picked up two Angus beef sirloin cut steaks at Kroger. You’ll want to either use a skillet or griddle pan that is oven safe OR you can throw a cookie sheet in the oven at 425F for a few minutes before you begin cooking the steak to get it up to temp. I wasn’t sure if the skillet pan I have is oven safe or not, so I pre-heated the oven to 425F with the cookie sheet inside. Remind me to grab a cast iron skillet for next time, just for ease and less dishes to wash later.

Put 2 tsp of oil in the skillet. Turn the heat up to high and let it get nice and hot. The first step is to sear the outside of the steaks to create a “crusty” outside that locks in the juices, and thus, flavor. Using tongs, I placed both steaks on the hot skillet in the oil and let them sear for 3 minutes.

Now flip the steaks over, and sear the other side for 3 minutes.

This is where you would normally toss the oven safe skillet right into the pre-heated oven, but like I said… I used a pre-heated cookie sheet in case my skillet wasn’t oven safe. I immediately transferred the two steaks to the oven for 3 more minutes. Really, that’s it! I pulled the cookie sheet out and transferred the steaks to a large plate. I quickly covered the plate tightly with aluminum foil and let the steaks rest for 5 minutes. Resting steak is still technically “cooking” a bit more even though it’s off the heat, and letting the steaks rest redistributes the meat’s internal juices. Before serving, I cut off the excess fat, though I think I’ll cut off excessive fat before cooking next time.

This method created the perfect medium rare steaks, with just the right light pink center. For a more well done steak, increase the cook time a little, or reduce cook time a bit for a more rare steak. It really is hard to screw up steaks this way, and Lucas really appreciated a flavorful REAL meal for his first night home from the hospital. We paired the steaks with oven roasted red potatoes, (that’s a recipe for another time!) and best part of the whole delicious meal is that Lucas was WELL below his sodium intake limit for dinner without sacrificing flavor.

I just wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for the love, support, and well wishes sent to us this past week. Whether via Twitter, email, or Facebook, we did our best to keep everyone updated on Lucas’ status along the way, and all of the prayers and positive vibes were really appreciated and helped us get through a stressful time. We’ll be sure to let you know what the next steps are once we get the kidney biopsy results back. While the blood work seems to have ruled out things like hepatitis, lupus, or other BIG scary things, we’re still not sure what we’re up against when it comes to treatment, or how much kidney damage there could potentially be and what that will mean. Until then, keep your fingers crossed!