Brittany mentioned that besides chocolate of course, a perfectly cooked steak is quite romantic. I have to agree, I don’t know if the color of the pink juicy cut of beef does it, seared just enough to give it flavor, or the little bit of crimson that flows out when you rested it 5 minutes after taking it off grill/broiler. Personally, I think its a crime and waste of good meat to cook it anything beyond medium. I’ve only had food poisoning twice in my life (thanks, Costa Rica) and I undercook food way too often, so I say let it be rare.
So to cook a steak without a grill, first lets start with the cut. My personal favorite is the ribeye cause in addition to all the fatty flavor you get a little piece of tenderloin on the side, its a nice surprise. Now, I should point out that the fat in ribeye should be marbled. If you know this already, great, if you don’t, marbling is when fat is equally dispersed throughout the muscle, like little white specks and fibers. The more of this there is, the more it melts into the fibers of muscle when cooking, enhancing the flavor and mouthfeel (god, i love that word).
But not everyone likes ribeye, I get that. A NY strip cut also works just fine, maybe more tender, but I feel has less flavor, and if you can’t tell, thats kinda what we’re all about here. Also, don’t just pick up a pack of meat from the grocery store thats vaccuum sealed, or bright, food-dye red. You want the meat to look natural, not feel slimy, it should be somewhat tacky, a natural red color (brown means it’s starting to go) and not smell foul in any way. If you don’t live near a butcher, go to the grocery store deli at least, but I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND the Mizzou Meat Market. It’s where we buy all our meat. It’s locally raised, locally slaughtered, and hung for 21 days.
Many of you are probably asking why that’s important. First off, its respectful to cows and the environment to not have to truck the meat across the country, second, it’s promoting local food. As for the hanging, I’m not going to go into the details, but the longer meat hangs, (preferably two weeks, but three to four is better), the better it tastes, just believe me on that. I can almost guarantee every piece of meat you’ve bought from the grocery store has not been hung, and if it says aged “for up to” a certain number of days, it probably means aged in the packaging. The sheer economics of it make it much cheaper to just butcher it up and not waste the time. Hence, why we love butchers. If you want to learn much more about all this, I also highly recommend
The River Cottage Meat Bookby Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. It’s a fantastic read and insight into the world of meat, and where I learned most of this information first.
Anyway, on to the recipe. This is for cooking indoors, as I find it keeps the flavor of the steak natural, and gives an even distribution of searing, not charring (some people hate the taste of char, and find it bitter). If you must cook your steak on a grill, the instructions are almost identical, you just won’t use a pan.
(Instructions adapted from Rouxbe Cooking School and Mark Bittman, though not verbatim).
- Essentially, make sure the meat is fully defrosted, pat it dry and let it sit at room temperature a little while, just so its not fridge temperature when it hits the pan. The pan you ask? Yes, you will need a cast iron pan. A 12 inch pan will hold two ribeyes comfortably, or three strips.
- Preheat the oven to as hot as it can go. On my old gas oven, that means 550, but there is no broiler, so I just set it on the bottom floor of the oven. In Brittany’s electric range, she has a broiler on top, so we set the shelf a few inches below that, and crank it up to broil.
- Before you just throw the steaks in, you should heat up the cast iron over medium high heat at least 3-5 minutes. If you can’t hold your hand 2 inches above the surface for more than 3 seconds, its about hot enough. Through a couple pinches of sea salt in the pan, pepper your steaks on each side, and as soon as you place them in the hot pan, move it to the oven.
- If they are 1 inch thick or so, i’d give it about 4 mins a side, turning in between.
- When it’s done, take it out, move it to a plate you aren’t eating on, cover with a towel and let it rest for 5 mins. (This keeps it pretty). If you’re nervous, cut into the middle of the biggest steak, and if its too pink, throw it back in for a minute or two.
Let me warn you if you do not have a ventilation system, you might wanna get a fan and window open in case it gets smokey. Patting the steaks dry will help this, but don’t freak out if you get lots of smoke, its part of the process, and almost unavoidable. The more steaks you cook, the more smoke there will be.
You can get a Lodge brand cast iron pan for around 15 bucks at Walmart or Target, and its a good investment because that thing will basically last forever. I personally use Le Creuset, as it’s just unbeatable in quality. Their stoneware is also phenomenal. Pricey? Yes. Worth it? I think so. We’ll save my praise for quality kitchen gear for another day. Enjoy the steaks! Always classic to serve them with sauteed onions on top, green beans and/or potatoes on side, either mashed, roasted, or french fries. Don’t forget the wine. My personal favorite with steaks is Cabernet Sauvignon.