From Scratch column: Cast-iron skillet steak with roasted corn on the cob and baked potato (recipe)
New York strip steak, baked potato and corn on the cob. Is any dinner more American than this?
I’ll answer for you: No.
I spend a lot of my time thinking of healthy, vegetable-based meals that I can make easily and that are still delicious.
Every so often, though, I need a mouth-watering steak, and this one fits the bill beautifully.
The ingredient list can be as short as steak, salt, pepper and butter.
Yes, butter is essential to creating the crust and finishing the steak in a bath of rich, buttery goodness.
I also recommend a cast-iron pan. You can get it blazing hot, and it transfers easily to the oven, if necessary. You could also use stainless steel.
Occasionally, I like to marinate the steak beforehand with teriyaki sauce or Worcestershire sauce or even a balsamic glaze. But if you have a beautiful steak, don’t hide the flavor of the beef.
Either way, pat the meat dry; you want the meat dry when it hits the pan, so it sears and forms a crust rather than steams if it were wet from the marinade. After drying, salt and pepper the steak liberally on both sides and let the steak rest.
While the steak is throwing off its chill, begin getting your cast-iron skillet blazing hot on the stovetop.
Once the skillet is very hot, add a tablespoon of a neutral oil like olive oil or grape-seed oil, swirling it around in the pan, and then quickly add two tablespoons of butter and then the steak.
Allow the steak to caramelize and develop a nice crust on one side, about 4 to 5 minutes. Then flip the steak, and let it caramelize on the other side for 3 to 4 minutes.
While the steak browns on the other side, add another 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan, and using a small spoon, bathe the steak liberally with the melted butter. You can also toss in some sliced garlic, rosemary or thyme to flavor the butter — be careful not to let the garlic burn.
At 3 minutes, begin testing the steak for your desired doneness by gently pressing the meat with your thumb to test how responsive the meat is. The less give, the more well-done it is.
When you’ve achieved your desired doneness, take the steak out of the pan and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Here’s an interesting tip that I discovered when I made this dinner: You can roast your corn on the cob at the same time that you are baking your potato. Super simple: Drizzle the corn with olive oil, and let the corn share the oven with the potatoes, roasting both at 400 degrees for 45-plus minutes until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Easy and delicious.
“Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home,” by Jessica Fechtor
I have been drawn to culinary memoirs ever since I first discovered MFK Fisher while I was still a student at the University of Michigan. I enjoy them because, as someone who loves to cook, reading about another person’s relationship to cooking is always interesting. And yes, I did say “relationship,” not “approach,” because I believe that when you are passionate about cooking, it is a relationship, not a clinical approach.
Jessica Fechtor begins “Stir” by describing the life-altering event that was the impetus of the book — a brain aneurism. The “lucky” event that would be fixed with one operation became a life-or-death series of operations that cost her the sight in one eye and temporarily left her without the sense of smell. We are drawn into her gripping description of the snowball of suddenly, seemingly bad luck.
Over the course of this moving memoir, she describes the importance of meals in her life, the kosher kitchen of her mother, which she and her husband adopt after they are married, the weekly Friday night Sabbath dinners where she first meets her husband when they are both in college and the meals that were brought by friends during the months of her arduous recovery.
This memoir inspires us as the courageous journey of one young woman, the pivotal role of her family and friends and culinary culture in that recovery and the role of food in making all of their lives richer — highly recommended.