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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How to fry up a steak

Many people consider preparing a steak at home a daunting task. Couldn't be further from the truth! In cold weather, when I'm not inclined to brave the snow to get to the grill, I'll bust out the cast iron skillet and fry one up. I do not get great pleasure paying $40.00 for a $5.00 steak in a restaurant. (Bargain Ninja?).
Here's how:
Get your steak out of the fridge about an hour before you want to cook it. It should be at room temp before putting it in the skillet. I used Strip steak here because they were on sale for $5.00 / lb. Each steak was 2 inches thick. When purchasing steak, look for marbling. See those little veins of fat running through the meat? That's good marbling, which equals good flavor and tender meat.

Now, let's season it up. These are big pieces of meat, so they need LOTS of seasoning. Smash up a clove of garlic with the flat blade of a Chef's knife. Rub the garlic clove all over one side of the steak..

Take a big pinch (3 fingers and thumbful) of Kosher salt. Sprinkle it on steak. Using a pepper grinder, grind on big chunks of fresh pepper. Coat thoroughly.

Now, massage the salt, pepper, and garlic into the steak. You've got to rub the meat!

Now, flip the steak over and repeat garlic, salt, pepper, and meat massage on the other side. Rest for a minute or so. Shake a couple Tbls of Worcestershire onto the steak. Rub it in, then flip it over. You want just a bit of the Worcestershire on both sides.

Get out the cast iron skillet. If you don't have one, you MUST get one right away. I saw them at Marshall's yesterday for $15.00. Open the windows and turn on the fans, unless you want hunky firemen showing up for dinner because one of your neighbors called 911 when they heard the smoke alarm.
 Put the skillet over a high flame. When the skillet gets really hot, (you should see wisps of smoke), drizzle in about a Tbls of extra LIGHT, not extra virgin, olive oil. You need an oil with a very high smoking point, so it won't burn. You could also use peanut or avocado oil, but they're more expensive, and I haven't noticed any real benefit from using them.

Let the oil heat up to smoking hot. Turn the flame down to medium/high. The cast iron retains heat really well, and if you put a steak in the skillet over a high flame, it will burn on the outside and be raw on the inside. Not delicious.
Put about 2 Tbls butter (not margarine or any other substitute) in the skillet. This will help to brown the steak.

Once butter melts, shake the excess sauce off the steak. Using tongs, place steak in the skillet. Do not touch it. Do not move it around. Do not poke it. Don't even look at it. Walk away. Walk away slowly, back to your cutting board. You need to finely chop 2 shallots for your sauce. Sauce recipe later.

After 5 minutes has elapsed, it's time to turn your steak over. If your steak is 1 inch thick, turn it over at 3 and a half minutes. 1and 1/2  inches thick, turn it over at 4 minutes.

Do not touch the steak. Do not move it around. Do not poke it. Don't even look at it. Walk away. Walk directly to the pantry and get some brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, red wine, and Dijon mustard. Then walk to the fridge and get some fresh thyme, butter, and cream. Put all ingredients next to the stove. Trust me on this.
After 5 minutes, (and for the love of Mike, USE A TIMER!!!), take the steak out of the skillet and place it on a cutting board. Use the timing above for cooking thinner steaks. Cover it up with a big bowl, or a piece of foil. Let it rest for at least 10 minutes, while you make the sauce.

After resting for about 10 minutes, slice the steak on the bias, against the grain. It should be rosy pink (medium-rare) inside, and crusty brown outside. Most people can't (O.K., shouldn't), eat an entire 1 pound steak. Slice it up and serve it up attractively on a platter.

Now, let's make a simple pan sauce. You'll need 1 Tbls brown sugar, 1 large or 2 small diced shallots, 2 Tbls Balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup red wine, 1/2 cup chicken broth, 2 bay leaves, 3 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 Tbls Dijon mustard, 2 Tbls butter, and 1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half.

Turn off the heat. Using the same skillet, (Do not clean out the skillet!) add 1 Tbls brown sugar and 2 diced shallots. Stir.

Pour 1 glass of red wine. With the heat still off, add 1/2 glass of the red wine and de-glaze the pan.(Hmmm. What to do with the other half glass???) If you add the wine with the flame on, you might have a flare up. (I love the flat whisk for sauces and gravies). Turn the heat back on to medium/high.

Add 1/4 cup chicken broth to pan. Stir.

Throw in 2 bay leaves.

Add 3 sprigs fresh thyme. Strip the leaves off, from the top to the bottom. Discard stems.

Cook down for about 5 minutes.
Stir in 1 Tbls Dijon mustard.
Stir in 2 Tbls Balsamic vinegar.
Whisk in 1 Tbls cold butter. Wait until it melts.
Then whisk in one more Tbls cold butter. The butter gives the sauce a silky mouth feel.
Whisk in 1/4 cup whole cream or half and half. Remove Bay leaves. Warm through and serve on the side, with steak.
Don't know why I didn't take a pic of the finished sauce. Maybe ready to eat??

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About Me

Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States
I'm a home cook that can put some good tasting food on the table, most of the time. My family knows dinner is ready when the fire alarm goes off.