In an earlier post, I wrote about a somewhat rambunctious gathering of friends and family during which two big fat steaks were cooked (cooked as opposed to grilled over a BBQ) in my tiny kitchen. They were first seared on a cast iron griddle, finished off in the oven and then allowed to rest for a few minutes before serving. This is, I believed, the standard way of cooking a beaf steak. A strong sear and off you go. And then I read an article about doing things sort of ‘backwards’, i.e. cooking the beef in the oven first and searing it AFTER that experience. The technique is called Reverse Searing or the Finney method.
One of the things I like about me is that I aim to keep things playful in the kitchen and that means trying anything once (well, most things) even if I am not really convinced, or even if I think I have a recipe down pat already and am very happy with it. Favourite husband gets consulted in advance about the culinary adventure I am going to embark upon, and gets to act as guinea pig and food critic. He is also supposed to keep my spirits up as I engage in my daring jaunt and that usually means making sure my glass of wine is replenished and answering the phone.
‘Twas a Sunday night and it had been a somewhat low-key day for us. And so I went about my experiment in a relaxed upbeat manner. Take a look.
The first thing I did was turn the oven on at what I hoped would be 52°C.
As I waited for the oven to reach the desired temperature, I plonked my nice steak in a cast iron pan that belonged to my Swedish grandmother (or so my Italian mother told me). Since my Swedish grandmother was born in 1864 and died in the early 1930s, this saucepan could literally be about 100 years old! I treasure this pan and use it only for special occasions. Also, I had patted the meat with kitchen paper, to get it as ‘dry’ as possible.
I coated the steam with olive oil and plenty of salt. On both sides. Please note: no pepper.
When the temperature was right, I popped the pan in the oven.
I don’t have a meat thermometer or probe or anything like that.
All I knew was what I had read: and that was that the meat should cook for no less than 30 minutes. And 30 minutes it was going to be.
In the meantime, some artichokes had been prepared.
I made some mayonnaise to accompany the asparagus.
This is what the steak looked like after its stay in the oven for 30 minutes.
Some nice juices were being coaxed out of the meat, but very few.
When I was ready with the side dishes and the table had been laid, etc., it was time to sear ahead!
I put my cast iron griddle over the fire and waited for it to get really hot before laying the steak on it.
I sprinkled a little paprika on the side facing upwards.
Meanwhile, I put some fresh rosemary, sage and touch of thyme in the (Swedish) cast iron pan.
And then I turned the steak over on the other side. Looking good already.
Kitchen not looking so good. Cough, splutter and goodness me: the smoke was getting to steamy levels. And this is when I am so thankful that I don’t live in countries that impose a smoke-control alarm in the kitchen. It would have gone off big time within minutes! I just closed the door and opened the window a little.
And when the other side of the steak was done too, I transferred it to the cast iron pan with the herbs ready in waiting. I now switched the fire off, and opened the window wide open.
I had decided to add some red wine to the cast iron griddle, to use up all the good juices that it contained. And thank goodness that switching the fire off is the sort of thing one does automatically. You would not believe the SIZE of the flame that came out of this little cast iron griddle! Huge! Well above my head! I reacted in a phew-I-am-so-glad-my-reflexes-are-still-sharp manner, by grabbing the handle and removing it from the stove top and waiting for it to subside – but in the meantime I shouted out to my husband, “quick quick! come here!” , just in case we needed a damp towel to deal with the situation. As it happend, the flame went out of its own accord within seconds with my looking on somewhat tremulously. I had no idea that a flame could arise with no live fire to set it off! So, yes, let this be a cautionary tale for all of us. It’s the steak we want to sear, not our faces or hair!
Here is the steak, lying on the tasty wine reduction and spontaneous gravy.
All’s well that ends well, phew. The wine and griddle combination resulted in a delicious sauce. I added pepper just before plating the steak. Pepper doesn’t like being seared. And gives the best of itself and its aroma only when freshly milled.
The steak looked very inviting.
And if you have some delicious bread … plenty of juicy sauce to mop the dish with at the end.
Very nice, very nice indeed. A very clever way to deal with a steak in a home that does not have a BBQ with which to grill it. And now that I know that some red wine can set a griddle pan on fire, I will know what to avoid and stay well away from pyromania.