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How To: Cook a Steak in a Cast-Iron Skillet

Cooking a steak in a cast-iron skillet ensures a crispy, caramelized steak.
Cooking a steak in a cast-iron skillet ensures a crispy, caramelized steak.
Photos by Molly Dunn

Although it's summertime and the grill seems to be the logical choice when cooking steak, using a cast-iron skillet to cook a steak makes it much more savory and delicious.

The older your skillet is, the better your food tastes. As a cast-iron skillet ages, it offers up more seasoning and increases the flavor of everything you cook in it. I absolutely love cooking steak in a cast-iron skillet -- to me, the steak is perfectly seasoned and is always juicier than if it were cooked on the grill.

All you need is a little oil, salt, pepper and butter and you can make one of the best steaks you have ever had; it's restaurant quality, for sure.

First, let your steak come to room temperature by unwrapping it and leaving it on your counter for approximately 30 minutes. This will ensure that the steak cooks evenly. You don't want the outside of the meat to be well done and the middle to be medium. During this time, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. You will finish cooking your steak in the oven once you cook it on the stove.

I decided to cook a bone-in New York strip steak (my dad's favorite). It's one and a half inches thick, almost like a Fred Flintstone steak.

Season the steak with salt and cracked black pepper after it comes to room temperature for 30 minutes.
Season the steak with salt and cracked black pepper after it comes to room temperature for 30 minutes.

After you let the steak come to room temperature, season it with salt and cracked black pepper. At this time, add any other seasonings you like to put on your steak -- garlic, herbs or a spice rub. Press the seasonings into the steak to seal in the flavors.

I'm pretty simple when it comes to steaks; a little bit of salt and pepper is enough for me to enhance the flavors of the meat.

Heat the cast-iron skillet to a medium to high temperature on the stove. Once the skillet is hot, add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. The oil should shimmer when it hits the pan -- that tells you the pan is hot enough. Place your steak on your skillet to sear on one side for no more than five minutes. Once it is seared, flip the steak to sear the other side for another five minutes.

Make sure to pay attention to the steak while searing it because depending on the thickness of the steak, the sear could take a longer or shorter amount of time. You want the steak to be golden brown and start to caramelize while searing it on the stove.

A little smoke while you're searing the steak is a good thing.
A little smoke while you're searing the steak is a good thing.

Using tongs, flip the steak on its sides to sear as well. Getting an all-around sear makes the steak crispy and full of savory flavor.

Flip the steak back to flat in the cast-iron skillet and place the pan in the preheated oven for nearly four minutes, depending on how you like your steak (medium-rare, medium-well, well-done). Cooking the steak for four minutes yields a medium-rare steak, so add another two minutes for medium-well and four minutes for well-done.

Adding butter to the steak makes it taste so much better.
Adding butter to the steak makes it taste so much better.

Place a pat of butter on top of the steak after you take it out of the oven (use an oven mitt because the handle is hot). Let your steak rest for another three to four minutes once it is done cooking in the oven before you slice into it. The steak soaks up all the wonderful seasonings and flavors from the cast-iron skillet and the butter while it rests.

Serve it with a baked potato or your favorite side dish and enjoy.



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