Thursday, June 10, 2010

Starting Simple - Cast Iron Pan Fried Ribeye

I'm going to wade into this endeavour with a dish that I'm fairly comfortable with, which should allow me to focus on giving the reader the flavor (heh, flavor, food page... we're off to a good start here) of the site content.

This is a dish which I believe I saw on Food Network at some point ... let me see if I can find it ... no, can't find it.  Anyway, the idea here is that you're pan frying this steak over very-high heat very quickly.  There's a couple things going on here.  First you're getting a real nice seer on the outside, and while the myth that this seals in the juices has been widely debunked at this juncture, it still adds a flavor that no amount of salt can replicate.  Second the meat just doesn't have time to dry out.

Boneless ribeye is the cut that I'm working with here.  I go about an inch and a half thick on it which typically works out well.  Thinner and you run the risk of just burning the whole thing to a crisp which isn't even particularly good as dog food.

My pan of choice is cast iron and this pan I've been using for a good 6 years now.  It was handed down to me by my Mom and I have no idea how long she used it.  Needless to say it's well seasoned.  It's definitely seen its fare share of bacon during it's tenure with me so the whole thing is pretty well imbued with fatty (note, with an f, not a ph) flavor.

Interestingly I can't cook this meal without setting off the smoke detector.  I suspect the reason for this is the proximity of the smoke detector to the kitchen, and the fact that I fill the apartment with smoke...  So, that stands as a warning I suppose.  Open a window.  The smoke comes from the fact that you cook this in a 500 degree oven.  The pan should be in the oven when you pre-heat.  I'm not sure if this does anything other than save time, but it was in the recipe when I read it and I always do it.  Once the oven's heated the pan goes on the burner at high heat.  This is when the meat gets added.

Seasoning for the meat is simply.  A little oil (I like EVOO, the recipe suggested Canola, use whatever you want), LOTS of salt, and LOTS of pepper.  That's it.  There's an odd habit among people who are just starting to cook steaks, myself included in my youth, to load the steak with a ton of seasoning beforehand.  McCormick makes a fortune off this inclination but it's totally unnecessary.  Especially if you're working with a good cut like a ribeye, anything beyond salt and pepper just takes away from the meat.

But I digress...

Throw the meat on the pan for 30 seconds a side.  Once the second side finishes the pan goes in the oven (still 500 degrees).  Now, if something is going to go wrong with this recipe here's where it's going to happen. I do two minutes a side in my oven, but that's my oven and the doneness to which I enjoy my meat.  The first time you try to make this you're probably going to end up with overdone or underdone steak.  To get it right I had to make it about 3 times in my current oven, taking notes on thickness, time, and doneness each round.  When I move I'll probably need to do that again.

And that's it.  After that second side's done, take the pan out of the oven, move the steak to a plate, cover it with tin foil, and let it rest for 5-7 minutes so the juice doesn't just go squirting everywhere when you cut into it.  I typically serve it with asparagus or Brussels sprouts on the side (the wife has a real affinity for Brussels sprouts for some reason) but I'm not opposed to mixing it up with some potatoes or a salad.


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