Do you find yourself craving a juicy steak in the dead of winter?
In the summer you can just fire up the grill outside. The open flame sears the steak with a caramelized crust, and all the smoke wafts harmlessly into the Great Outdoors. But outdoor grilling isn’t such a treat in winter—especially not this winter. Don’t let the cold stop you, though. A little determination and know-how can get you the year’s best-tasting steaks right now.
The first step is a good cut of steak. If you’re putting in the effort to do your steak right, start with a high-quality cut of grass-fed beef. If you’re in the Edmonton, Alberta area, talk to the meat experts at D’Arcy’s Meats for the best and freshest local cuts.
Preparing the steaks is simple but important. Let the cuts warm to room temperature before you start cooking them. Season them with salt and pepper, and leave it at that. Don’t get fancy here—let the meat do its job, which is to be delicious.
To get that caramelized crust, you have to hit your steaks hard and fast with heat. Use a cast-iron pan or a skillet that can handle high temperatures, and get it hot before you let the steak touch it. One way to do this is to heat the empty pan on the stove for a half hour or so. If your skillet is all metal, you can even stick it in the oven and heat it that way, to 175 or even 205° C (350 to 400° F). Once it’s hot, take it out (with oven mitts, please) and put it on the burner.
Now, conventional wisdom holds that grilling a steak properly is a ridiculously smoky process, but luckily the conventional wisdom is wrong. There are some tricks you can use to minimize or eliminate smoke. The first is to use less heat—some people like to scorch their steaks at 260° C (500° F) or more, but the lower temperatures we’ve suggested will do fine, even for searing. Another trick is to grease your pan with clarified butter or oil with a high smoke point. This spreads the heat around and makes sure your steak is cooking, not burning.
Once the steak hits the pan, flip it every minute, and try not to move the steak around the pan between flips. Keep this up for eight to ten minutes, depending on how thick the cut is and how well done you want it. Remember that the steak will keep cooking after you’ve taken it off the stove, so let it rest for six or seven minutes before you serve it.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of it you’ll agree that winter is the perfect time for a sizzling, delicious steak.