Cast Iron Steak

April 29, 2021 Updated: April 29, 2021

If you make this steak according to Elizabeth Karmel’s directions, she guarantees you two things: Your kitchen will get very smoky, and your steak will be very crusty—in all the right ways! This stovetop method is like an extreme culinary sport since the pan is preheated over high heat for about 5 minutes before the steak is cooked. When the smoke clears, you’re left with a gorgeous caramelized crust that covers the steak from end to end. This technique is best suited to a boneless steak, served rare.

Makes 1 to 2 servings

  • 1 boneless New York strip or rib-eye steak (16 to 20 ounces and 1 to 2 inches thick) 
  • Coarse kosher salt or Maldon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Wrap the steak in paper towels to get rid of excess moisture. Replace the paper towels as needed.

Meanwhile, place a dry 10 1/2-inch cast iron skillet on the stove and preheat over high heat until a drop of water sprinkled on the surface “dances” and evaporates instantly. 

Just before cooking, scatter the salt lightly but evenly over the pan. Place the steak at the top edge of the pan. Let the steak cook and sizzle for 1 minute, then, using tongs, flip it so the raw side of the steak is at the bottom edge of the pan. These placements are important because the cooking process cools the cast iron, and you want each side of the meat to be exposed to the same hot surface. 

Press down gently to ensure even contact between the steak and the pan. Let the steak cook and sizzle until there’s a nice, even crust, 1 minute more. Using tongs, hold the steak vertically and brown the fat on the edges. This also allows the pan to heat up again.

Repeat cooking the first side of the steak at the top edge of the pan for another minute. Flip the steak and place the second side at the bottom edge of the pan for 1 minute more. Repeat browning the edges if necessary, about 30 seconds on each edge. At this point, the steak should look done and have a deep-brown caramelized crust on each side. Check for doneness: The meat should feel tight and slightly springy, not raw and mushy, to the touch. If using an instant-read thermometer, insert it horizontally (through the thickness) into the center. Rare is 125 degrees F, and that’s the temperature that I prefer. Medium-rare is 135 degrees F. If you want your steak cooked more in the center, once it has the crust on it, slip the cast iron pan into the preheated oven.

Remove steak to a wire cooling rack set on a sheet pan and let rest for 10 minutes. You can tent it lightly with aluminum foil, but not so tightly that the steak begins to steam. Slice and serve with freshly ground pepper, if desired—you shouldn’t need to add more salt.

Recipe from Elizabeth Karmel