You may be thinking that steak should never be cooked in a skillet. How can it be a properly cooked steak if there is no grill involved? How can a steak be cooked on anything other than a piping hot back patio grill for Sunday family dinner? Is there even a proper way to learn how to cook a steak in a cast iron skillet?
Well, we are here to tell you that steaks can indeed be cooked inside of a cast iron skillet on top of a stove not on a back patio. Do not fear. This does not make you any less of a grill operator or steak prepare. This in fact, makes you a more diverse chef with culinary skills that exceed most, so at least you have that going for you. Let us dive deep into the art of how to cook a steak in a cast iron skillet.
Skillet Steak Delight
So, it is your first time trying to cook steak. What do you do? Grilling used to be the ‘go-to’ answer but now this blog is telling me to cook my steak inside my house inside of a cast iron skillet? What is this steak foolery? Who do I believe? Will it even taste good? How does it get that smoky steak flavor if it is not even on a grill?
Believe me, these are all normal and naturally occurring questions and thoughts that might come to mind when someone you do not know tells you to cook your steak inside of a cast iron skillet. Cooking with a cast iron skillet allows you to produce flavors in your food you just cannot simply match with any other form of cooking.
Why Cast Iron
Some people swear by only having a single pan in their cooking arsenal and this pan is a seriously trusted and seriously seasoned cast iron skillet. Seasoning a cast iron skillet is, for use of a better word, a skill. It takes time and practice but it is well worth the wait. To properly season a new cast iron skillet, first, buy yourself a new cast iron skillet. You are now one step closer to learning how to cook a steak in a cast iron skillet.
To season (or re-season) a cast iron skillet, cover the bottom of the cast iron skillet with a thick layer of kosher salt. Add approximately a half-inch of oil and place over a high temperature stove heat source. When the oil begins to smoke, pour the contents of piping hot oil and salt into a heatproof bowl. Once the oil is cooled down, you may discard of properly.
Using a ball of paper towels, rub the excess salt and oil until the inside of your cast iron skillet is smooth. You have just successfully seasoned (or re-seasoned) your cast iron skillet. Your newly seasoned skillet is now ready for some magic making.
There are many reasons to use a cast iron skillet for your primary cooking method. It is perfect for searing meats, making frittatas, stir-fries, cornbread, roasted veggies and oh so much more. It takes less oil to cook food, which saves you money and calorie intake in the long run. It also serves as a chemical-free alternative to nonstick pans.
Cast iron skillets are also kings (or queens) of the kitchen because it can leach iron into your food. This is a wonderful aspect of cooking with cast irons, because a lot of humans could use more healthy iron in their diet. Yet another benefit of cooking with cast iron is that it serves as a warming vessel to keep your freshly cooked food nice and warm before it is ready to be served.
Steak Sear by Skillet
Now you understand and have more insight as to why people are crazy for cast iron. I mean, quite literally, it is the best. It has multiple health benefits, produces unmatchable flavors and is just an easy ‘go to’ to have in any kitchen. A cast iron is simply the most ideal options for things like scallops, steaks and veggies.
The absolute best way to cook a steak is to sear it in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. There simply is no better alternative or method. The most fanciful chefs will agree that there is just something about a perfectly seared steak that makes the mouth water and heart warm. A perfect steak sear in your adult life is about as close as you get to being a little kid on Christmas day again, so enjoy it.
These moments of pure delight are hard to come by so let this sear fire you right up and get you to cooking!
There are multiple methods, temperatures and concoctions of oils to produce the perfect sear. Below, we will break down a few of our most prized methods of achieving a steak sear unlike the rest. Make sure your cast iron skillet is seasoned and ready for action before trying to master the steak sear.
Best Way to Cook a Steak in a Cast Iron Skillet
First, we will indulge Chef Alton Brown who breaks down his favorite way to sear a steak using a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. In this recipe, you will need just a few simple ingredients. These ingredients are one boneless rib eye steak, about 1 ½ inches thickness, canola oil to coat the pan and a dash of kosher salt and ground black pepper
First, you will place your ten to twelve-inch cast iron skillet into the oven at 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring the steak to room temperature. Once the oven reaches 500 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the skillet and place on the stovetop with the heat on high for five minutes. Coat the rib eye lightly with canola oil and sprinkle both sides with a pinch of salt and black pepper.
Next, place your lightly oil coated and salted steak into the middle of the piping hot, bare skillet. Cooking for thirty seconds without touching or moving the steak. Flip the steak using tongs and cook on the other side for thirty seconds. Put the pan in the oven for two minutes. Flip the steak and cook for another two minutes in the oven. If you prefer your steak prepared at a medium level, cook the steak in oven for three minutes on each side.
Remove the steak from your cast iron skillet, cover loosely with foil and let the steak rest for two minutes. Serve when warm and delicious by leaving whole or slicing for the family to enjoy.
Next up, we are serving up a slightly different version of the same seared steak dish. A deliciously seared steak in a perfectly seasoned cast iron skillet. For this version, your ingredients include a grass-fed New York strip steak, pink Himalayan sea salt or a salt of equal caliber, 1 tablespoon avocado oil, 2 tablespoons pastured butter and an optional Fleur de sel or chimichurri sauce for a topping.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the steak from the fridge and season both sides with the salt of your choice and freshly ground black pepper. Let the steaks sit for thirty minutes to an hour to allow the meat to reach close to room temperature. Add one tablespoon of avocado oil to your cast iron skillet and turn the burner to medium high heat.
Warm the oil to a perfect temperature. This means that the oil is not smoking but it still warm enough to produce that beautiful sear we are searching for. If you seem to see smoke, remove your cast iron and oil from the heat source and allow the entire apparatus to cool before trying again at lower temperatures.
Gently place your steak in the pan and let it sear for two minutes. Flip the steaks and cook for another two minutes (exactly – use a timer). You can also sear the sides of the steak by using tongs to sear each side for thirty seconds. Use an oven mitt to transfer the searing steak to the oven. Let the steak cook for four to five minutes for a medium, pink center. If you have a leaner cut of meat or prefer your steaks on the rarer side of life, only cook for two minutes at the most.
Remove the pan from the oven and using tongs to place the steak on a cutting board or plate. Cover loosely with foil or a dishtowel to let the steak rest for up to ten minutes without cutting into it. Once your steak is rested, serve with a dollop of pasteurized butter. Sprinkle an optional taste of fleur de sel over the buttery steal and enjoy.
Ready, Steak, Go!
Viola – you now have two different but similar ways of how to cook a steak in a cast iron skillet. There is definitely a fine art to mastering the steak sear but these instructions should have helped boost your confidence and given you the required knowledge needed to properly execute a skillet steak sear.
Go onward into the culinary world with this meat-filled knowledge and show the world just how skilled you are!