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How to Cook Any Steak in Cast Iron Skillet to Perfection In 5 Steps

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This guide explains how to cook steak in cast iron skillet, using stove top on its own.

Contents:

 

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Part 1: Cooking Tools & Ingredients

Before you begin, be sure you have the following ingredients:

  • 200g/7oz steak (preferably derived from an organic grass-fed cow and matured for 21 days)
  • 1 tbsp ghee or coconut oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Black peppercorns for grinding

You should also have the tools necessary for this job including:

  • A high quality cast iron skillet with grill marks
  • A pair of tongs
  • Instant meat probe
  • An oven probe (If you chose a thicker cut of steak)
  • Paper towels

Now that you have everything collected, let’s SteakEat!

 

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Part 2: Cooking Steak in Cast Iron Skillet – 5 Simple Steps

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Step 1 – Room Temperature

The best steaks are cooked from room temperature.

If you are using the recommended portion of steak, take it out of the fridge a minimum of 40 minutes before you cook it.

If you have a larger cut of steak this process can take up to two hours.

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Step 2 – Heat Up the Skillet

Though cast iron skillets have the advantage of getting hot and staying hot, it can take them ages to warm up in comparison to steel or aluminum pans.

Additionally, when they are not seasoned properly they can cause your food to stick and burn. To avoid this, prepare the pan before adding your steak.

First, heat the skillet until it is smoking hot. Add ghee or coconut oil and rub it around pan. Once the oil is distributed, remove the pan from heat. Allow it to cool and wipe down with paper towels to remove any excess fat. Once the pan is properly seasoned you will be able to reheat it for cooking.

Before adding the steak to the skillet, allow it to heat up for at least 10 minutes on high heat. This will ensure it is hot enough for the searing process.

Use the fumes to guide you – once the skillet starts lightly smoking, wait for another 20 seconds – your pan is now ready to sear!

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Step 3 – Patting Dry and Seasoning the Steak

Stay busy while your skillet is heating by preparing the steak.

First, pat the steak dry using paper towels. Use a light tapping motion to get the surface of the steak as dry as possible.

Once the steak is properly dried, season the steak using kosher salt. Personally, I prefer 2-3 pinches of salt per side of a 7 ounce steak.

This is not the step where you add the pepper. Because freshly ground pepper is so likely to burn it is best to add pepper once the cooking is done. This will help you prevent a charred flavor disaster.

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Step 4 – Sear the Steak

Once the skillet has been heated for 10 to 15 minutes and your steak is prepared, place the steak inside the skillet. This should result in a gentle sizzling sound.

So how long should you cook the steak?

As a general rule cook the steaks for three minutes per side. This will result in a medium-rare doneness.

Begin by cooking it for one and a half minutes on the grill marks.

Then turn it by 90 degrees so the final pattern leaves #-style marks.

After flipping the steak with the tongs, perform this process on the other sides.

Then, cook the steak for 2 minutes for each lateral side.

This is when you will realize the usefulness of tongs over a spatula or other utensils for steak cooking.

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Side Note:

There are many cuts of steak that are chewy or lean. With these types of steaks, overcooking can cause the steak to become dry or chewy.

To allow the cut to remain tender and juicy, it is recommended that some cuts are not cooked beyond a medium-rare doneness.

This level is like a guarantee that the steak will be enjoyable.

The best possible way to test a steak for medium-rare doneness is to use an instant read meat thermometer.

Insert the thermometer into the middle of the steak.

If it is done at a medium-rare level, you will have an internal temperature reading of 55C or the equivalent 130F.

As previously mentioned, this method of searing is best for steaks that are less than 1 inch, or 2.5cm thick.

If you find your steak is thicker, sear it on the stove using this method and then finish it in the oven. This will retain its juiciness and flavor.

You should also have an internal reading of 130F, however, this is better checked by an oven thermometer.

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Step 5 – Rest the Steak

The entire searing process should take 10 minutes (3 minutes for each side plus 2 minutes for each lateral side).

Once the steak is seared, place it on a plate or cutting board. Add freshly ground black pepper to the steak.

The steak should remain on the plate or cutting board for a minimum of 3-4 minutes before it is cut. This will help to stabilize the juices so they do not escape when the steak is cut into.

Once the steak has been resting for the allotted time, cut into the steak using a very sharp knife.

To ensure its retention of juiciness, cut across the grain of the steak (across its muscle fibers). This tender, juicy cut can be served by itself or paired with something for a complete meal.

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This is the end of the cooking process. Great job! This is your first step in becoming a steak cooking expert using a cast iron skillet.

This method retains juiciness and flavor so I hope this process allows you to enjoy your steak the way it has been prepared.

If you find that you are interested in tips and recipes for the perfect steak, however, continue reading.

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Part 3: Quality Beef & Tools Buying Advice

When purchasing steak there are some things you should look for. Some recommended tips include:

Organic grass-fed. Organic beef is cattle that has been raised without using the growth hormones and antibiotics that are typical to beef raising. For a cow to be considered “grass-fed” it must be fed only feed similar to grass throughout its life. The reason grass-fed cattle make better steak is because these cows are leaner and more flavorful than cows that have been fed grain products. Organic, grass-fed beef is healthier for you—and it tastes great!

Dry aging. Some cuts of steak can end up being chewy and leaner. While leaner cuts are good for some types of meat, steak is not one of them. Leaner cuts will be significantly tougher, particularly if they are not cooked properly. To remedy this, look for dry aged beef. The natural chemical process known as dry aging helps to with the breakdown of molecules of protein in steak. This makes beef tenderer and allows its flavor to be more concentrated. The most common types of dry aged steaks come in 14-, 21-, and 28-day maturity. While their price is more than other types of steak, you will find there is a huge difference in the flavor. I recommend the 21-day dry aged steak.

Weight and Thickness. The best guideline for purchasing steak is to buy 200g, or 7 ounces of steak for each person you intend to serve. It is the ideal serving size to yield a filling meal without getting stuffed. My personal recommendation is that the steak is not thicker than 1 inch, or 2.5cm. This is the best size cut for searing the steak on top of the stove using the cast iron skillet method. If you find that your chosen cut is thicker than this, use this guide to sear the steak and then finish it in the oven so it remains juicy and flavorful.

Have you found the perfect cut of steak? Good, now let’s get your equipment to cook it.

 

The Best Tools for Perfect Steak

There are three components to a perfectly cooked steak. The equation is as follows:

48%- The steak you choose.

48%- The tools that are used.

What is the third component and the other 4%? Well, it’s luck of course. To make the perfect steak, these are the tools you will need:

 

Cast Iron Skillet

Cast iron skillets are known for their thick, heavy construction and amazing volumetric heat capabilities. In other words, cast iron skillets are perfect for cooking steak because once they are heated they retain heat well.

Additionally, cast iron skillets have heat proof handles. This allows them to be put in the oven. This is ideal if you have chosen a thicker cut of steak than is recommended. If you desire, you can choose a skillet with built-in grill marks. While these don’t affect flavor much, a cast iron skillet with grill marks will make your steak look fancier.

 

Tongs

The easiest way to flip steak, particularly steak with grill marks is using high-quality tongs. Tongs will make steak handling simpler and protect you from burns.

 

Salt

One of the key components of a great steak, especially when searing it, is salt. When you add salt to a piece of steak and apply high heat, it cause the Maillard reaction. In layman’s terms, salt and high heat cause your steak to brown. When choosing salt for your steak, use kosher salt. Kosher salt is less dense than standard table salt. This allows you to add more salt to your steak without ruining its natural flavor.

 

Pepper

If you want to add pepper, freshly ground is the best. This should be added just before serving the steak for an incredible aroma.

 

Oil

Searing is a process done at high heat, therefore, you will need a heat-stable oil. My personal recommendation is to use either non-virgin coconut oil or ghee. Both have the advantages of being compatible with high heat, having a high smoking point, and adding a nice aroma to cooking steak.

 

Meat Thermometer

One of the most crucial mistakes when cooking steak is overcooking. Overcooking a steak will dry it out and take away from its natural flavor and aroma. There are two types of thermometers you should keep in your kitchen for steak; an instant read meat thermometer and an over thermometer. This will prevent the critical mistake of overcooking.

 

Paper Towels

When cooking any kind of meat, having a roll of paper towels handy is necessary. We will be using paper towels to dry the surface of the steak prior to searing.

And finally – expert cooking tips and how to get your steak taste even better!

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Part 4: Expert Cooking Tips

Congratulations on cooking your own juicy, tender steak using the cast iron skillet method in Part 1.

Now that you have learned this initial process and know how to buy quality meat from Part 2, I will provide you with several handy tips that can benefit your steak preparation process in the future.

 

Tip # 1: Room Temperature

Sometimes you may fail to pull your steak out of the refrigerator to allow it to rise to room temperature. However, this is not a concern. Simply set the steak on top of a microwave-safe plate and place it in the microwave. Set the microwave at its lowest setting and allow it to run for 3-5 seconds. When the timer goes off, flip the steak. Continue this process until the steak is warm, however, take care not to cook it.

 

Tip #2: Oven Heat Your Skillet

You do not have to heat your cast iron skillet on the stovetop. To encourage even heating of the skillet, place it in a preheated at 400F or 200C. Leave it in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Exercise caution when you are taking the pan out of the oven, as the handle may be hot.

 

Tip #3: Enhancement

Two minutes before the end of the searing process, add 2-3 fresh sprigs of rosemary, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, and 1 knob of organic grass-fed butter. After the steak has cooked for a minute, flip the steak over to allow the second side to absorb this flavor. These three ingredients will enhance the aroma and flavor of your steak.

 

Tip #4: Preheat Your Plate

While your steak is searing in the skillet, consider preheating your plates in the oven. Set the oven at 190F or 90C and let them sit for about ten minutes. This will keep your steak warm longer after cooking.

 

Tip #5: Ensure Your Steak Stays Warm and Juicy

Whether you are cooking for yourself and need to clean the kitchen, or hosting a party and have obligations before eating, you can still keep your steak warm.  Set the oven to 120F or 50C and allow it to preheat. Once it has preheated place your steak inside. This temperature will keep your steak ready to eat without cooking it or drying it out.

 

If I have been successful, then this guide for cooking steak using the searing method in a skillet of cast iron has been informative for you. However, this article is not a definitive source of information. If you find that after reading this guide you have questions, tips, or ideas, leave them in the designated commentary section below.

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