Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Great Steak - Even When Your Grill is Buried in Snow

Okay, a bit of a departure, let's have a little fun.

The problem? A friend in the San Francisco area said it was raining this winter "like he should build an ark....".

In the meantime, we had a related problem. (Yes, I was the one that left the cover off overnight. Found 2 weeks later and 20 feet away after a thaw.)

The Solution? The cast iron pan and this fabulous recipe.

Sugar and Ancho Rubbed Steak with Blue Cheese Tossed Salad

2 NY Strip Loin or Rib-Eye Steaks, at least 1" thick, preferably Dry-Aged*
4 T Demerara or finely ground Turbinado (brown) sugar
1 1/2 t. fresh cracked Black Pepper (Tellicherry if you have it)
1 t. Kosher or Sea Salt (medium to heavy grind)
1/4 t. ground dried Ancho or Chipotle Chili (optional)

Bring steaks to room temperature and pat dry with paper towel. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine the sugar, pepper, salt, and ground chili and press onto both sides of each steak. Do this right before cooking to prevent the sugar from turning syrupy.

Heat cast iron pan on medium high. (An ovenproof non-stick pan will also work, though you may not get as good a crust on the steaks.) Sear the steaks on one side until you get a nice brown crust, about 5 minutes. Flip the steaks to brown the other side, about 2 minutes. If steaks are thicker than 1" thick, finish them in the oven using the same pan. Best served rare (120 degrees F).

Note: Turn on your fan, the steaks can smoke quite a bit. Also, do not touch the brown sugar coating as it gets very hot as it caramelizes.

Remove steaks from oven and let rest on plate or carving board for 5 minutes. Angle slice. Serve with a tossed green salad ideally topped with good quality blue cheese, red or yellow grape tomatoes, and a warmed olive oil, red wine vinegar vinaigrette.

* Of course I recommend steaks from The Oliver Ranch Company marketplace, but no matter, look for a genuinely natural (esp. no growth stimulants) or organic steak from any trusted source. We find this recipe particularly sublime with dry-aged beef but it's also great with beef that's been wet-aged at least 14 days.

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