This guide explains how to cook top/eye round steak in cast iron skillet to medium-rare level of doneness.
What is the single most important rule for searing steak so it becomes beautifully browned, flavorful and delicious?
The skillet should be hot enough!
This is why cast iron is one of the best alloys from that perspective – it is able to accumulate a tremendous amount of heat, so you can definitely cook a perfect steak. 😉
The beauty of cast iron is that it is also quite inexpensive, so you don’t need to pay big $$$ for it to get a quality skillet.
Part 1: Ingredients & Tools for Cooking
All I want is to help you understand the cooking technique, that’s why the recipe is simplicity itself:
- 8oz/230g steak
- 1 tbsp coconut oil or ghee
- Kosher/flaked salt
- Whole fresh black peppercorns
And these are cooking utensils you will need as well:
- A quality, sturdy cast iron skillet with optional (but preferred) grill marks
- Meat probes – 1 instant and 1 oven probe (if your steak is thicker than 1 inch))
- Paper towels
- Tin foil
Got ’em all? Let’s SteakEat!
Part 2: Cooking Top/Eye Round Steak in Cast Iron Skillet – 5 Steps
Even though this method is not hard at all, please remember that it’s normal to screw up first (second or even third) time.
No need to feel bad about that…practice makes perfect – enjoy! 🙂
Room Temperature for Top/Eye Round
Remove the steak from the fridge 40 minutes before starting to cook.
Warmer steak will not significantly drop the skillet’s temperature, when placed inside…so it will end up having a much better surface browning which occurs at high heat.
If you have no time, you can use the lowest power setting of your microwave (not the defrost mode though).
Put the steak inside the microwave oven, preferably on a ceramic plate.
Run the oven for 3-5 seconds.
Open it up and turn the steak on to the other side.
You will feel how the side that’s touching the plate is getting warmer.
Repeat this cycle 4-6 times until your top/eye round is warm (don’t cook it inside though 😉 )
Heat Up the Cast Iron
As I already said – cast iron is excellent at retaining heat, but takes a while to actually heat up.
Provided your skillet is already seasoned*, you might need a good 10-15 minutes to let it get really hot.
Drop the tablespoon of ghee/coconut oil inside the skillet.
Then place it over high heat.
I usually wait until I start seeing gentle fumes lifting off the skillet’s surface; I then count another 20 seconds and this when I’m ready to go…
Cast iron has a minor disadvantage and that it stickiness.
To prevent it, we need to season the skillet using the following method.
Heat the skillet to medium-high heat adding a tablespoon of ghee/coconut oil.
Wait for the oil to melt and distribute it evenly along the pan.
Remove it from the stove.
Once the skillet has cooled down, use paper towels to absorb excess fat and wipe the whole thing down.
Your skillet is now ready for searing steaks – heat it up again and follow the rest of the steps. 😉
Paper Towels & Seasoning
To help your top/eye round get even better browning, you’ll need to pat it dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture from the surface.
Dry surface browns much easier, so make an effort! 😉
Next is seasoning – add 2-3 pinches of flaked/Kosher salt per side.
I don’t recommend adding pepper at this stage, because it burns at high heat leaving charred flavor which I don’t like.
Browning the Steak
Is the skillet hot enough?
Place the steak inside and hear the gentle sizzle…
How long to cook it for?
A rule of thumb stands at 2-3 minutes per side for medium-rare level of doneness, which equals to 55C / 130F inside temperature (50C / 122F and 60C / 140F is rare and medium doneness respectively).
To develop #-like marks (if your skillet has them), rotate the steak by 90 degrees every 1.5 minutes of cooking.
This is when meat tongs become very useful!
If your top/eye round is thicker than 1 inch, I recommend you use the oven to finish it after stove top cooking.
The gentler oven heat will cook the steak at a slower rate helping to preserve tenderness and flavor inside it.
To do it, preheat the oven to 135C / 275F with fan on (150C / 300F with fan off).
Once the steak was seared on the stove, transfer it inside the oven – you can use the same skillet, provided it’s oven-safe (i.e. it doesn’t have a plastic handle).
Check the steak’s inside temperature using meat probe.
I highly recommend not going over medium-rare at 55C / 130F, because round steak is a relatively tough piece.
Once the steak has reached that temperature (you’ll probably need around 20 minutes), follow on to the next step.
Time for Resting & Pepper
After you are done cooking, transfer the steak on to a plate/cutting board.
Add freshly ground black pepper to develop aroma and cover it with tin foil to help stabilize the inside temperature.
It will rest for 3-5 minutes after which you can can into it and…enjooooy! 🙂