Someone once asked me for my top 5 must-have kitchen items. Amongst all of the really great stuff I have in my kitchen, including copper saute pans, foreign cutlery and all sorts of other pretentious food snob type stuff is my lowly cast iron skillet. It cost me about $20 at a kitchen supply store (the brand is Lodge, 12 inch) and it ranks right up at the top of this list, second of course only to my chefs knife (Henckel, 8 inch).
You can do pretty much every type of cooking with cast iron; sear a steak, simmer a broth, deep fry vegetables, braise tough meat, throw it in the oven at 500 degrees, kill an intruder, whatever! The best part about cast iron is that it only gets better with age, unlike those darn non-stick pans that never seem to last more than a year.
Here’s some great instructions on how to cook a really tasty steak in a cast iron skillet:
1. Place the skillet in a cold oven, doesn’t matter which rack. Crank the temperature in the oven up to 500 degrees. Watch some TV while you wait, or do bounding burpee overhead squat thruster tuck jumps until the pre-heat notification goes off.
2. Put your steaks on the counter, uncovered with some salt on them. This helps them to dry out a bit, which is what you want to get a really good sear on each side. It’s best to let your steak rise to about room temperature before grilling/searing, this provides the best results. I will typically get mine out of the fridge an hour before dinner and leave them on the counter.
3. Once the oven has reached 500 degrees pull the cast iron skillet out with an oven mitt on (very important) and place it on a burner (gas or electric) on high.
4. Place a steak or two in the skillet to sear it. No need for oils or anything. You can throw on some pepper if you’d like. Don’t overcrowd it though, as it will cool the skillet off too quickly and you won’t get a good do on the steak. After about 3 minutes the steak should be browned on the bottom, flip it over for another 3 minutes.
5. Once you have browned all of your steaks on both sides, toss them in the oven at 500 degrees for another 3-5 minutes depending on how well done you like it. 3 min should be medium rare, 5 should be closing in on well done. Ed Note: Results will vary depending on your oven and how many glasses of vino you’ve had before you started this process.
6. Once you pull the steaks from the oven, wrap them lightly in aluminum for another 5 minutes before you dig in. Place them on a plate with your favorite veggies and enjoy.