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Tuesday, January 04, 2011

How to Cook Everything Project: Pan-Grilled Steak


Well now… it’s been a while since I did something for the HtCE Project!

Let me tell you a story.

2001. Baltimore, Maryland. The week of… you know what. Hotel bar. A mix of old and young, chatting it up after that day’s training session. The conversations are varied, but one draws your attention- the three people involved are talking about food. One talks about what she’s craving right now, but doesn’t know where to find it in that area. Another talks about recently becoming a vegetarian, and how every now and then gets a pang for beef. The third person, who during all of this was downing her nth drink, finally speaks up. “I don’t know if I could do it,” she says. “I like vegetables and all, but I can’t give up a good steak. I’d totally… (gnawing sound) that up.”

Yeah. I made a gnawing sound. The guy I started dating soon after that (we worked for the same organization) said that was when he knew I was something special.  You see, that’s my secret weapon… I win them over with steak talk.

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Cooking steak is not hard at all. Ideally it should be cooked on the grill, but that’s not going to happen during the winter. The next best thing to do is cook it on the stove… something I am quite familiar with. Quicker and easier. But this method is a bit different from how I cook steaks (I add a little bit of butter or oil to the hot pan and cook the meat in that), and it’s not as messy.

According to the recipe, pan-grilled steak is ideal for meat that’s no more than 1 inch thick. Heat up a cast iron pan until it’s smoking hot. Literally. Bittman wants that sucker smoking.

The next bit seemed a little confused, and I hope I did it right. I read it as salt the pan, not the meat. Grabbed the kosher salt, gave a salt toss and  dropped the dried steak in. Three minutes, flip, three minutes.  Onto a plate, cover, and keep in the microwave to keep warm.

I couldn’t just eat the steak alone, so I added a few pats of butter into the cast iron and a few handfuls of sliced mushrooms. Salt. Pepper. Cooked down until the mushrooms had darkened and gave off a delicious aroma.

The steak ended up being medium rare-ish, which is how I like it. Other than the salt, I didn’t add anything else to it… and it didn’t need anything more than that. Quite tasty.

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