Cast-Iron Delmonico Steak


Whenever I do a cooking demo, one of my favorite things to show the audience is how to make a steak.  Everyone thinks a quality steak is impossible to make at home and something left to steak house restaurants.  However, a steak is one of the easiest and quickest meals you can make yourself in a matter of minutes.

My favorite cut of steak to make is usually the Delmonico.  There is some controversy about what cut of meat a Delmonico steak is really is — a top sirloin, bone-in top loin, or rib eye.  It’s also sometimes called a beauty steak, spencer steak, scotch filet, and entrecôte.  Whatever the steak is called, it is always tender and rich, and has beautiful marbling, which are the white flecks and streaks of fat within the meat.  Marbling adds flavor and is one of the main criteria for judging the quality of cuts of meat.  In general, the more marbling a piece of steak contains, the better a cut of meat is.

This is what good marbling looks like
This is what good marbling looks like

Before you cook your steak at home, you need two things: (1) a cast-iron skillet or my preference, a cast-iron grill pan (you get those pretty grill marks) and (2) good ventilation.  Although I have several fancy Staub cast-iron pans, Lodge makes some great ones for a fraction of the price.  And I cannot stress good ventilation enough.  Making steak on a cast-iron pan will create smoke.  If you have a hood over your stove, make sure it is vented outside.  You may also want to open a window and disable the smoke detector nearest to your kitchen temporarily.  As long as you have good ventilation, making a steak is quick and easy.

If you lack poor ventilation in your kitchen and you don’t want to open your window during the cold winter months, see my note at the end of the post on how to cook steak using your oven instead.

These instructions are for a medium-rare steak.  If you would like a more well done steak, I recommend placing a meat thermometer in your steak and cooking it until it’s cooked to your liking.

For the Cast-Iron Delmonico Steak, you will need:

  • 1 Delmonico Steak, 10-12 oz, 3/4″ thick
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cast-iron skillet or grill pan
  • A solid pair of tongs

Instructions:

Take the steak out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you’re going to make it and bring it to room temperature, as it will cook more evenly.  Once it has reached room temperature, rinse it under cold water and blot it well with paper towels.  The steak will develop a nicer sear when you blot out the moisture prior to cooking it.

Such a beautiful looking steak

Heat a dry, seasoned cast-iron skillet or grill pan that is large enough to hold the steak flat over high heat.  Test the pan by adding a drop of water – it should sizzle off immediately!  Once the pan is hot enough, reduce the heat to medium-high and add the coarse sea salt so that it is scattered all over the pan.  When the salt begins to pop, add the steak to the pan.

10" Staub cast-iron grill pan
10″ Staub cast-iron grill pan

4Steak

Cook the steak until the meat no longer sticks to the pan, about 2-3 minutes.  Set a timer because this time frame is much quicker than you may think!  Also, do NOT touch the meat as it is cooking – let your steak develop a nice sear.  Constantly moving the steak around as it’s cooking means it will not develop that nice, crispy sear you get at the steak houses.

Turn the steak promptly with tongs and cook the other side for another 2-3 minutes.  If the steak beings to curl on the sides, you may have the heat up a bit too high.

Look at that sexy sear
Look at that sexy sear

Serve the steak immediately with your favorite side.  I also recommend adding some freshly ground black pepper :)

Medium rare center
Medium rare center

Note about cooking steak in your oven:

Instead of cooking the entire steak on the stove top, there’s another alternative to reduce the amount of smoke in your kitchen.  Follow the instructions above up until you’re about to put the steak on the pan and preheat your oven to 500F.  Instead of searing the steak for 2-3 mins per side, you’ll place the steak on the pan for 30 seconds (set a timer!), flip, and cook for another 30 seconds.  Put the pan straight into the oven for 2 minutes, flip it, and cook for another 2 minutes.  Remove the steak from the pan and serve immediately.

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