Thursday, April 12, 2007

Speaking of Steak...

Steak is one of my favorite low-fuss things to cook. When it has to be quick, with little clean-up and almost no prep, I throw a fillet or a t-bone in the cast iron skillet and let the charred, meaty smell transform the whole house.

You can get a nice cut of steak to feed four people for under $20, so it doesn’t have to break your budget. If you don’t have a favorite cut, ask your butcher. If you don't have a butcher, every supermarket has a “meat guy”, so if you buy your meat at one, ask him for his preference. These guys tend to know what they are talking about and everyone likes to be called upon as an expert. It'll make him happy he showed up to work that day. You ask regularly enough and “the meat guy” may hold special cuts for you, order meats especially for you and give you special prices when he can. If you are both single and hot, who knows, you may fall in love over the sirloin cut. Worse things have happened.

By the way, if you don’t have a cast iron pan, get one! You can saute freshly mown hay in one and it would taste like it has been marinated in truffles. If you can’t afford one, go to garage sales – I bought every single one of mine used (and for about a buck fifty each) and after a little TLC, they’ve all been Foster Kitchen staples.

Here are my tips for making the perfect at-home, no-grill steak. (This recipe assumes the steak is about 2 inches thick).

Let the cast iron pan get very hot on the stovetop. Don’t be afraid to use very high heat. Drop a spot of olive oil in the pan and rub the steak with a little olive oil and salt and pepper each side. Sear the steak on one side in a hot pan over fairly high heat. This creates a nice brown crust. Flip the steak over, then place the pan in a 425-degree oven to finish the cooking. Roast to the desired doneness - 5 minutes for rare, 7 minutes for medium rare, 9 minutes for medium - depending on the thickness of the meat. Let the meat rest for 5 minutes to redistribute juices before serving. If you use a cooking thermometer, you are looking to get the meat to 125 degrees for rare.

Now, if you want to do the whole do, throw a couple potatoes in the oven 40 minutes before dinner, whip up a nice spinach salad, put out a loaf of crusty bread and 15 minutes before eating throw on your favorite steaks. The only thing you’ll have to do is clean up the plates, forks and a single cast iron pan. Voila!


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