Saturday, February 8, 2014

Stovetop Steak

Captain's Log

Growing up, we had steak pretty much every Friday night. Every week! Can you believe it? It sounds so luxurious, in a way, and so sinful, in another. My parents are die-hard fans of Dale's Steak Seasoning and always used that as their marinade before grilling on a gas grill in the backyard. Mom would marinate and prepare the veggies, Dad would grill, and it all would come together in a glorious dinner to be enjoyed as a family while watching a movie.

(Ok, in all honesty, the Family Unit aspect of this dinner was somewhat lessened once my sister and I were teenagers with cars and friends and boyfriends… but the cherished memory lives on! And many of those boyfriends and now-husbands have enjoyed Steak Night themselves.)

Dale's comes from Birmingham, Alabama, and thus has only regional availability. What's a gal to do when wanting that awesome family steak, but not having a) the obligatory marinade, and b) the essential gas grill?

Enter The Salt Trick. I did not invent this. I think I read about it somewhere once, and I know my brother-in-law has done this before (which makes me think it is an Alton Brown technique, or perhaps America's Test Kitchen? Or Cook's Illustrated magazine? Help me out, Sister.). But anyway here is what you do:

- Buy a steak, cut of your choosing

- Sprinkle all sides of the steak generously with kosher salt. For bonus flavor, you can throw a rosemary sprig onto/underneath the steak. Ditto thyme leaves, or slices of garlic.
Do you think these are big enough?
I said generously…
- Let them sit on your counter or in the fridge (really: counter is fine! Unless you have a dog.) for a while. The general rule is one hour for an inch-thick steak. 45 mins would be fine as well. If you're using very thin steaks, just 20 mins is probably sufficient.

What you want to happen is for the salt to draw the water out of the steak, dissolve the salt, and then be reabsorbed into the steak. It's essentially a dry marinade. The latter stage is when just a quick 10 mins won't work for this technique---reabsorption is key! If you're watching your salt consumption, I'd recommend sprinkling only a little over the steak and letting those sparse grains do the work rather than cutting down the amount of time that the salt is on the steak.

- Rinse the steaks and pat them dry.
- Preheat a heavy-bottomed skillet. Cast iron is best. Get the pan so hot it's starting to smoke, or sprinkled water drops sizzle and evaporate immediately.
Wedding present alert!
- Brush the steaks with a high-temp oil, like vegetable or canola. Don't waste olive oil on this.
- Cook those homeboys for about four mins per side. Medium-high heat. (For steaks about 1" thick, even 4.5 mins per side would be okay for achieving "medium to medium rare". 4 mins per side for a solid medium rare.) 

- Don't mess with them… just put them in the pan, set a timer, and flip when the timer goes off.
Golden crust achieved!
- When they're done, set them aside for 10 mins or so to allow the juices to redistribute. If you cut into them right away, all the deliciousness will run out of the steak. No good. Let it sit and you will be rewarded!

- While you wait, if you want to Go the Extra Mile, you can put some diced shallots in the hot pan that you used to cook the steaks. Turn off the heat and let the residual heat take care of them. Salt lightly, pepper lightly, and when the shallots are translucent put some red wine in there. Cook it down a little, scrap up the brown bits in the pan, and then when you're about ready to eat, add a pat of cold butter and swirl it around to melt. This will be the most amazing red wine sauce you've ever had. Dunk your steak in it and you'll be in consummate steak heaven. Okay, hang on, consummate steak heaven would probably involve a few blue cheese crumbles too. It's your call.
Is this a properly portioned plate? Hint: no.
...leftovers are terrific with eggs, quesadillas, or from the end of a fork
You want to know a secret?
I didn't make this dinner.

My fella did!

For dessert we had this weird waffle/ice cream thing that we sell in my store.
And you know what? 

It was awesome.


  1. I think your fella needs to start his own cooking blog!

  2. Sounds delich! What a decadence. :-)

  3. Yay, you had Korean fish ice cream! Or, at least, that's what this half-Korean calls it. I didn't know they made it in fruit flavors since I've only ever seen the red bean flavor in the Korean markets.

    I'll have to try the salt trick the next time I cook steak for my parents (which is the only time I seem to cook it).

    p.s. I may be following your example and starting up a blog too! You'll have to tell me your tips and tricks! We'll see how diligent in updating it I'll be. . . .

  4. This looks SO GOOD!!! You're right--we always prep our steaks more or less like this, though usually it's just a seasoning w/ salt + pepper (then cook, then rest, then eat) rather than dry rub for an hour or two. I bet that was really really really good.

    Too bad I have a crock pot full o' split peas stewing at home. I'm really tempted to stop for steaks.