It's February, and the ground hog was wrong this year. Speaking for those of us in the Midwest, we have our share of wintery weather ahead of us.
I love grilled steak on occasion, and the outdoor, smoky flavor that is infused from the fire. But, today's style results in a pure beef flavor, which some people prefer. It's a toss up for me. So, let's talk about how to prepare and cook a steak indoors that will rival any steak you would experience at five-star steak houses, with the following three disclaimers.
-- Five-star steakhouses buy up all of the “prime” beef, therefore you will not find any at your local butcher or supermarket. “Prime” accounts for roughly 2 percent to 3 percent of all beef in the U.S., and is perfectly marbled for rich, delicious flavor.
-- Most five-star steakhouses “dry age” their beef. This is a process where the beef is allowed to age for a period of time, which intensifies the beefy flavor. Believe it or not, you can do this at home, but we won't get into that today. Google it if you want to give it a shot.
-- This preparation style is something to be done on rare occasions due to it's richness.
If you want to see a video I made recently on the topic of creating a great steak indoors, go to www.YouTube.com/BBQMyWay. In the search videos box, type in “steak”.
Let's get to cooking.
First step is to call your butcher. The best cut (in my opinion) is the bone-in ribeye. Have him or her cut your steak to a thickness of 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches. You can also use a strip steak, which tends to be a little leaner. If you decide on a strip, make sure it has nice marbling throughout.
Allow the steaks to come to room temperature, which will take at least an hour. This step is very important for steaks of this size. Rub both sides with olive oil, and then liberally sprinkle both sides with kosher or sea salt. Don't skimp on the salt. These are big steaks. Do not use normal table salt as it will not create that crust, and will be bitter. You will also want to pepper both sides with coarse, freshly cracked black pepper.
Preheat the oven at 500 degrees Fahrenheit, preferably on the “custom broil” setting. Place a cast iron skillet on your stove at high heat. And yes, cast iron does make a difference. Teflon creates a texture that in my opinion doesn't come close to restaurant quality. Once you see a little smoke rising from the skillet, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Place the steaks in the skillet. Hear that sizzle? Life is good.
Allow to sit in the skillet untouched for three minutes. Turn the steaks and let them cook for another three minutes. There should be a dark, rich color and crust. Now, if you didn't get the steaks cut nice and thick, you are probably done, and I am frankly a bit disappointed that you didn't follow directions properly. You now have a nice steak, but not five-star.
Leaving the steaks in the skillet, transfer them to the oven. We let them cook for an additional six to seven minutes. Our goal was to serve them medium rare. When you go to pull the steaks out, don't be alarmed if there is smoke. That's to be expected.
Allow the steaks to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into them, otherwise the juices will run out.
Now, here's a step that premium steakhouses take for the ultimate steak. Place a dab of real butter on top each steak and allow it to melt. This provides the great tongue feel and richness.
Serve with a classic baked potato and creamed spinach. It's sure to brighten up your February.
Dave Lobeck is a barbecue chef from Sellersburg, Ind., who writes a column for CNHI News Service. Visit his website at www.BBQMyWay.com.