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Monday, February 13, 2012

There's a Right Way to Do It

I don't usually make steaks in the winter.  If I'm really in the mood for one, we go out.  There are so many good steak restaurants, even here in the 'burgh, that I'd rather let someone else do it.

It's a different story in the summer.  I think grilled steaks are one of the truly great foods.  They just epitomize summer and since Ted is a master griller, I'm happy to let him take the credit.  He can grill a steak like nobody's business.  It's a gift.

But the other day I called my own bluff.  Mark the Butcher had some beautiful Delmonico steaks and I found myself tempted to give broiled steaks another try.  In theory I knew how to broil a steak.  I mean, come on. How hard could it be?  It's a broiled steak.

Well, it turns out that there's a right way and a wrong way to properly broil a steak.  Suffice it to say, I have been doing it the wrong way all these years.  No wonder I never thought broiled steaks weren't all that great.  I'm not going to go into my former method but suffice it to say, throwing the seasoned steaks on the broiler pan and sticking them under the broiler for a couple of minutes does not a perfect steak make.

The right way, or at least the way that my google research indicates makes the best steak, involves not only a really hot broiler,  but also a really hot cast iron skillet.  And some really thick oven mitts.

Start with gorgeous steaks.  
But here's the thing.  If you don't have a gorgeous steak to start out with, all the technique in the world won't help you.  Find yourself a good butcher.  Get to know him.  And then broil away.

Recipe:  Perfect Broiled Steaks
(Adapted from The Kitchen)

Position the top rack four to five inches from the top of the oven. Take the steak out of the refrigerator as you pre-heat the broiler to its highest possible temperature (Our broiler reaches to 550 degrees). Open a window just in case. Things might get a little smoky.

While the broiler warms, pre-heat an empty cast-iron skillet on high heat on the stove for about five minutes. If you're using a premium cut of aged meat and a well-seasoned pan, you won't need to add any oil to the pan. The screaming hot pan might just start to smoke a bit. Be careful and be sure to use a thick oven mitt.

Once both the broiler and the pan are pre-heated, sprinkle the steak with salt and put it in the pan (We don't put black pepper on until after it comes out of the broiler because we think it can burn, but others differ with us on this). Place the pan on the top rack, under the broiler.

Let the steak broil for four minutes and then carefully flip it to the other side for another four minutes.

After the steaks have broiled on each side, pull the pan out of the broiler. Use a paring knife to make a small cut in the center of the the thickest part of the steak to see if the meat is done to your liking. Remember, the steak will keep cooking a bit even after it is out of the broiler. (Don't feel too bad about cutting into the steak. Yes, you will let some of the juice out of the steak, but losing some juice is better than over-cooking the steak.) If you'd like the steak more well done, return it to the broiler, checking it again after another minute.

Move the steak from the pan to the platter and serve immediately.

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