If you’ve ever been at a crossroads as to whether you should cook your T-Bone in a regular nonstick pan or a cast iron skillet, we have news for you: go with the cast iron. We’re not saying steak prepared in any old pan won’t taste good…but if you want to maximize your chances at a “perfect steak”, cooking a cast iron skillet steak is your best bet!
Cast iron pans are made of very dense metal that can distribute and retain heat better than other frying pans, which allows for even heat distribution. Cast iron skillets provide the intense heat needed to sear the exterior of a steak to a crispy, flavorful golden-brown. This essential skillet is versatile too, in the sense that it can work on a stovetop, inside the oven and even on a grill’s open flame, which is ideal when cooking thick-cut steaks like filet mignon or ribeye steaks.
Rise to Room Temp
To start, let the steak rise to room temperature. Wait between 20-30 minutes after taking it out of the refrigerator. This prep step will allow the steak to cook evenly on the inside and the outside without having “cold zones”.
When it comes to seasoning, less is more. Steak— if it’s high grade and a good cut—has a great natural flavor that becomes drowned out when people smother them in a hodgepodge of shakes and flakes. (Instead of adding to the meat, it truly takes away from it.) Stick with the classic freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt, and maybe some simple herbs like a sprig of thyme or sage.
Into the Pan
Heat the skillet over high heat for about five minutes, then add a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil, or butter, to the pan and immediately place the steak in the center. (Being able to cook the steak at a high temperature, and quickly, means you’re less likely to overcook it.) Remember, once cast irons get hot, it stays hot. Most cast-iron skillets can withstand heats of up to 1500°F!
Mind the Sear
Another reason why you want the oil super-hot before you put the steak in is because if it’s not hot enough you won’t get a proper sear on the steak. A defining feature of a good steak is that fantastic crust on the outside. Cook on each side for 3-4 minutes until a brown crust has formed, then turn the steak on its side to sear the edges.
Save the Drips
Cooking steak in a cast-iron skillet means that you can take advantage of the yummy pan drippings! You know, the little caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan? Save them for a delicious sauce to pour over when the steak is done.
(If Needed) Finish in the Oven
If you find that your steak is seared but still not fully done in the middle, pop the cast iron skillet in the oven at 400°F for about 5 minutes. This will halt the searing process and allow the inside of the steak to continue cooking through.
Let it Rest
Take your steak(s) off the heat and let it sit for at least 5 minutes, loosely covered in foil. The resting stage is important because when you’re cooking, the meat’s juices are pulled towards the surface—if you were to slice into it right after taking it out of the skillet, all those flavorful juices would end up on the plate instead of being retained inside the steak. Resting lets the juices sink back in throughout the meat, keeping it moist and flavorful. Follow these cast iron skillet steak tips and your taste buds will be glad you did.