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Monday, May 26, 2014

Not Your Pioneer's Cast Iron Pan

I really love a good steak.  I mean, come on.  Who doesn't?  Okay, maybe those of you out there who are vegetarians and vegans don't love a good steak.  But so far as I know, most everyone else does.  At least amongst my friends.

But I digress.
Usually I like to go out for a steak.  Or I like to fire up the grill (or rather, I like to direct Ted to fire up the grill), and cook the steaks that way.  I'm not big on the whole pan cooking steaks thing.

That is, until I saw this recipe in The New York Times for cast iron cooked steaks.  Just like the pioneers!

Make sure to get really nice steaks from your butcher.
Making a steak in a cast iron pan really is so easy it's criminal.  First of all, you'll want to make sure the steaks are dry.  There are instructions in the recipe for drying the steaks, but fret not.  All it involves is about an hour and a roll of paper towels.  The real key to success is making sure your cast iron pan is good and hot.  So hot that the steak really sizzles and caramelizes when it makes contact with the pan.  Other than that, you'll be good to go and you'll end up with the best (indoor) steak you've ever had.

Recipe:  Cast-Iron Steak
Julia Moskin, New York Times, 5//14/14


Coarse salt, such as kosher salt or Maldon sea salt
1 or 2 boneless beef steaks, 1 inch thick (about 2 pounds total), such as strip, rib-eye, flat iron, chuck-eye, hanger or skirt (preferably “outside” skirt)
Black pepper (optional)


Remove packaging and pat meat dry with paper towels. Line a plate with paper towels, place meat on top and set aside to dry further and come to cool room temperature (30 to 60 minutes, depending on the weather). Turn occasionally; replace paper towels as needed.

Place a heavy skillet, preferably cast-iron, on the stove and sprinkle lightly but evenly with about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt. Turn heat to high under pan. Pat both sides of steak dry again.

When pan is smoking hot, 5 to 8 minutes, pat steak dry again and place in pan. (If using two steaks, cook in two batches.)

Let steak sizzle for 1 minute, then use tongs to flip it over, moving raw side of steak around in pan so both sides are salted. Press down gently to ensure even contact between steak and pan. Keep cooking over very high heat, flipping steak every 30 seconds. After it’s been turned a few times, sprinkle in two pinches salt. If using pepper, add it now.

When steak has contracted in size and developed a dark-brown crust, about 4 minutes total, check for doneness. To the touch, meat should feel softly springy but not squishy. If using an instant-read thermometer, insert into side of steak. For medium-rare meat, 120 to 125 degrees is ideal: Steak will continue cooking after being removed from heat.

Remove steak to a cutting board and tent lightly with foil. Let rest 5 minutes.

Serve in pieces or thickly slice on the diagonal, cutting away from your body and with the top edge of the knife leaning toward your body. If cooking skirt or hanger steak, make sure to slice across the grain of the meat.

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