Cast Iron Steak

 steak.jpg

I think I’ve discovered the perfect way to cook a filet.

When mom was still in the early stages of recovery and dad was sick of take-out food, I offered to come over and cook them dinner. On the menu: ancho-chili filet minons, caramelized brocoli, and wild mushroom en papillote (baked in parchment paper-bundles). Overall, the rub and sauce for the steaks was much too spicy (I have reproduced all recipes below, fyi), but the method for cooking the steaks was downright perfection. The filets were wonderfully seared on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth buttery on the inside. This was the kind of meal that made me close my eyes and relish in the steak flavors after every bite, even though I was staving off tears from the heat at the same time.

In order to get this steaky goodness, you MUST use a cast iron pan. I think the recipe says “preferably cast iron,” but there just is no substitute if you want the same flavor.

As for the rest of the meal: I liked the mushrooms, but then I am a huge mushroom fan. I think the pouches sat out a little too long before serving and weren’t warm enough. The flavor just wasn’t there either. The brocoli, on the other hand, was wonderful, and I use the same method to cook brussel sprouts and round potato slices as well. In my method I have cut out the last step (adding oil after removing the lid) and instead add garlic and/or shallots (sometimes prosciuto, yum!) when I add the water.

steakbroc.jpg

Ancho-Rubbed Filets Mignons with Cuban Espresso Sauce
(original printed in October 2007 Gourmet)
Note: the spice rub and sauce were way too spicy for me, but this method of cooking the filets is no-fail. I also only used 4 steaks.

Ingredients:
For Filets:
6 (1 1/2 inch thick) center-cut beef tenderloin steaks (filets mingons; 8 to 10 oz each)
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil

For sauce:
10 whole cloves
2 cups veal stock (NOTE: I just used beef stock here)
1/2 cup water
1/2 onion, sliced
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 1/2 teaspoon instant-coffee granules
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 tablespoons

Equipment: an electric coffee/spice grinder; a large two-burner ridged grill pan, preferably cast iron (NOTE: because I only used 4 filets, a single burner cast iron pan was fine)

Garnish: lime wedges

Method:
MARINATE STEAKS: Pat steaks dry. Stir together spices, sea salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and rub on top and bottom of steaks, then rub oil over spices. Cover with plastic wrap and chill, 3 hours.

MAKE SAUCE: Finely grind cloves in a spice grinder until finely ground. Combine with remaining ingredients except butter in a heavy medium saucepan and simmer briskly, stirring occassionally, until reduced to 1 cup, about 30 minutes. Straigh through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on and discarding solids, then return to cleaned saucepan and bring to a simmer. Whisk in butter until incorporated, then season with salt and keep warm, covered, off heat.

COOK STEAKS: Preheat oven to 400 F with rack in middle.

Heat grill pan over medium heat until hot, then lightly oil. Grill steaks, turning once, 10 minutes or until grill marks form (NOTE: 5 minutes per side), then transfer to a shallow baking pan and roast in over 10 minutes for medium-rare (NOTE: I roasted mine for 8 because I like a rarer steak). Remove steaks from overn and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 5 minutes.

Transfer steaks to plates. Top with some sauce and serve remaincing sauce on the side.

steakpan2.jpg

Wild Mushrooms En Papillote
(original recipe in October 2007 Gourmet)

Ingredients:
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 lb miced fresh wild mushrooms, trimmed and torn into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon minced garlic

ACCOMPANIMENTS: flaky seat salt; lemon wedges

Method:
Preheat oven to 450 F with rack in middle.

Lightly brush 4 (12-inch) squares of parchment paper with some of butter.

Toss mushrooms with herbs, shallots, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl, then toss with remaining butter and divide among parchment squares.

Fold parchment to enclose mushrooms.

Bake packets in shallow baking pan 20 minutes. Serve packets on plates.

Caramelized Broccoli with Garlic
(original recipe in October 2007 Food and Wine)

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 heads of broccoli (1 1/4 pounds total), stems peeled and heads halved lengthwise
1/2 cup water
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Method:
In a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the broccoli, cut side down, cover and cook over moderate heat until richly browned on the bottom, about 8 minutes. Add the water, cover and cook until the broccoli is just tender and the water has evaporated, about 7 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil along with the garlic and the crushed red pepper and cook uncovered until the garlic is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Season the broccoli with salt and black pepper, drizzle with the lemon juice and serve.

brocpan.jpg

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