Posted by Pat La Jeunesse
There’s more than one good way to cook a delicious steak
While most of us think that steak is best prepared by searing it on a hot charcoal or propane gas barbecue grill you just might be very surprised at just how delicious cooking a steak can be using a cast iron skillet. While this cooking method works well for just about any steak, I am quite partial to a delicious ribeye myself. It’s cut from the beef rib primal cut is where we get some of the most tender, flavorful and generally desirable steaks and roasts. If you tend to find yourself a bit squeamish about a steak with lots of visible fat, please reconsider. The white lines running throughout your rib eye steak are what give it it’s rich flavor and much of it will melt away in the cooking process. It’s called marbling and so that white stuff is good. The biggest secret to cooking any steak to perfection is getting it to the proper internal temperature so be sure to let your steak sit out of refrigeration long enough (about 30 minutes) to reach room temperature. This will assure that the steak cooks evenly throughout. I used to make the mistake of taking my steaks out of the fridge and into the pan. As a result, I’d often get a grayish area between the browned crust and the red center. Letting the steaks warm naturally means that the meat cooks evenly and the beautiful interior will be cooked to the same reddish-pink color and tenderness. Before you start the cooking process, season the steaks with coarse sea salt and I like to use a blended lemon grind and coarse black pepper.
Picking your skillet
If given a choice I prefer using a cast iron skillet. Cast-iron cooks evenly and allows foods like steak to render the fat easily while leave just enough seared morsels on the surface of the skillet to flavor a sauce or gravy made in the pan to accompany your steaks. Not everyone has a cast-iron skillet but no worries, any heavy-based metal pan like the sandwiched metal pans from All-Clad®, which heat evenly will do the trick. Just don’t use a cheap bumpy bottomed pan on your wonderful steaks as this a surefire way to burn them. When using a pan other than a well-seasoned cast-iron you will want to brush your steaks with a couple tablespoons of olive before adding the steaks to the skillet to keep them from sticking to the bottom. Size does matter…pick a skillet that can accommodate the meat with just a little space between the steaks and the edge of the pan. If too tightly packed, the meat will steam, rather than browning and if the skillet is too large the fat that is rendered in the cooking process can burn on the exposed surface of the skillet.
Tip from Experience
To avoid having your dogs bark incessantly, your cats scatter not to be found for days and your family members complaining of headaches, turn on the stove exhaust fan at this point or you will soon get to witness of one or more smoke alarms going off and refusing to stop on command. Searing a steak in a hot skillet is a multi-sensory experience. First you will hear it sizzle and crackle, then you nose will pick up the magical scent of beef at it carmalizes.
Time to turn on the heat and your render the fat
There are two ways to choose from for the actual cooking of your steaks, either your broiler or stove top. If you prefer the broiler, place a dry cast-iron skillet in a preheated broiler on high heat about 6 inches from flame or heating element. Heat pan for about 20 minutes. If using the broiler follow the same steps from here as you would cooking on a stove top as explained below. A WORD OF CAUTION: THE HANDLE IS EXTREMELY HOT. When the pan is heated, pull the oven rack out to give yourself clear access to the pan and lay the steaks carefully into the skillet to avoid splatters.
If cooking them on the stove top get your skillet nice and hot. Test when it's ready by flicking a few drops of tap water in the skillet which should sizzle and evaporate immediately. Adding your steak to a hot skillet avoid having it stick to the surface of the pan. Carefully, with a long-handled pair of tongs place your streaks in the skillet and don’t move the meat at all for at least 3 minutes; as the steak sears and contracts, it will naturally release. After three minutes flip each steak and again leave it in place for another three minutes. Most of the browned exterior will stay on the steak and not on the bottom of the pan. Once both sides are well browned, turn down the heat and cook on both sides until the steak is done to your liking.
Using your meat thermometer take your steals out of the skillet when the temperature reaches 125 to 130 °F. You are almost there but please, don’t rush it. Let it rest on your counter the heat for 5 to 10 minutes. This gives the steak time absorb the juices from the exterior of the steak back to the center. At it rests the steak completes its cooking by allowing the heat from the hotter exterior to equilibrate with the cooler interior. The result is a perfectly cooked and juicy steak.