Thursday, June 22, 2017

Cast Iron Steak

Every now and again, my wife takes a business trip out of town, and leaves me unsupervised.  It is during these times that I do most of my culinary experimentation and yesterday was no exception!  I was too tired to fire up the grill but I was hungry so, I pulled out the old cast iron and well; what do you know!?

I'm fully aware that using a cast iron pan to cook a steak is nothing "new," but this steak was 2" thick so some experimentation was in order to, 1) ensure a good exterior crust that wasn't burnt and, 2) a nice medium rare interior was achieved.

You Will Need:
  • 1 "Tomahawk" Ribeye, or any well marbled steak that is 2-inches thick (room temperature)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Butter
  • Big Cast Iron Pan

Before you do anything, set your oven to preheat up to 500 degrees.  Yes, 500 degrees.  If your oven doesn't go up to 500 degrees, go as high as you can (without choosing to use the "Clean" cycle).  Let it finish preheating, and then leave it alone for another 15 minutes to be sure! 

Meanwhile, get that skillet onto the stove and turn the heat up to "HIGH."  Leave it there to gather heat while you prep the steak.  Eventually, it will get "white-hot" and a few sprinkles of water will instantly turn to steam when they hit the surface!  If you have a good "hood" or fan above your stove, you'll want to turn it on now, because any prior oil left on to season the pan will burn away and stink up your kitchen.

Hopefully you let your steak come up to room temperature.  If you didn't, it's a BIG DEAL, so make sure it gets done!  The internal temperature of the steak is everything in this dish and you'll want that 30-degree head-start going in.  Rub some Olive oil into the steak, and sprinkle generous doses of salt and pepper onto both surfaces.  Massage everything into the meat with your fingers.

Open a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, test it for greatness, then salute it.  When you, the pan, and your steak are ready, use a pair of tongs to stand the meat up, on its end, in the skillet for ONE MINUTE!  One minute will seem like forever because things will sizzle and spit and smoke a little.  Be strong!  I used an egg timer and forced myself to sit still until it went "DING!"  The goal here is to seer the fat and to put a nice crust on it.

When a minute is up, make sure you rotate the steak to sear the other end!  Yes, you'll need another whole minute...

Repeat this process for all surfaces of the steak, rotating the steak around to find the hottest spaces you have left in your pan.  You should see a wonderful crust developing, and your kitchen should start to smell amazing!  Remember, ONE MINUTE for each new surface.

Once you've crusted the final surface, give it one more flip, add a smear of butter, and quickly move the entire pan to the 500 degree oven.  Close the oven door and walk away for THREE MINUTES (use your egg timer again).  No peaking!  Pour some wine or clean and prep your cutting board, but don't touch anything near the oven for three minutes.  When your three minutes are up, open the oven door, reach in with your tongs, flip the steak, smear on some more butter, and close the door for THREE MORE MINUTES!

When the steak has had three minutes on both sides, take it out with your tongs and lay it out onto the cutting board.  What a beautiful thing!?  Cover it with foil and let it rest for at least 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, you might choose to just leave the pan in the oven for now, because it's "jet engine" hot!  Just close the oven door, turn off the oven, and deal with the pan after dinner when things have cooled down a bit.

After a 5-7 minute rest, it's all over but for the slicin'!  Fortunately, I was unsupervised so I skipped the salad, the vegetables, and even the utensils.  I watched a Western while I literally ate this thing with my bare hands!  You might be forced to serve this with side dishes, or to share it (sorry), but either way; it's an incredible way to enjoy a steak!

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