July 08, 2012

Got beef?

Our family loves good steak, so we grill out often—at least once a week during the spring, summer, and fall. But when the temperature rises above 100° Farenheit we have to figure out other options. Today was one of those days.

Our initial plan was to pull out my wok and cook some Chinese stir-fry. But when we went to the grocery store yesterday to get the ingredients, I was swayed by a book we found at the store, The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook: A treasury of timeless, delicious recipes [Amazon.com]. I began flipping through the pages of this unique cookbook and soon decided to buy it. The recipes look fantastic.

About 20 years ago, Kim and I purchased two cast iron skillets from Cracker Barrel—one with very low sides and the other about 3.5" deep. Our two skillets closely resemble the ones pictured at the top of this post and are, in fact, made by Lodge Cast Iron. We have used the low-sided skillet regularly since we purchased it, but have not used the deeper skillet very often. It’s large and it’s heavy and it just hasn’t been one of our regular pieces of cookware... until now.

I love cooking with cast iron cookware and have used the skillet for burgers, hash-brown potatoes, fried tomatoes, sausage, and many other foods that benefit from the even temperature across the cooking surface and from the ability of cast iron to retain heat. And I used the low-sided skillet because at 14" in width, the low sides of the skillet reduce the weight by quite a bit. The 14" high-sided skillet is incredibly heavy.

So... we chose a recipe, collected the short list of ingredients and after church today I made the best steak I have ever had. The recipe is in the box below. If you have a cast iron skillet (like the one with the high sides pictured at the top-right of this post). You need to try this recipe. It is truly amazing and will leave your taste buds in an elevated state of nirvana.

Seared Pepper Steak with Bourbon-Shallot Sauce

  • 2 tbsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup cracked black peppercorns
  • 4 10-oz. beef top loin steaks, about 1" thick
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


  • 3 tbsp chopped shallots
  • 1/2-cup bourbon
  • 1/2-cup beef stock
  • 1/4-cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

  1. Rub the salt and cracked peppercorns on both sides of the steaks.
  2. Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Cook the steaks 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium rare or to desired degree of doneness. Transfer the steaks to a plate and loosely cover with foil.
  3. Add the shallots to the skillet and sauté 30 seconds.
  4. Remove the skillet from the heat and turn off the burner. Add the bourbon (there will be a lot of steam all at once). Carefully light the liquid in the skillet with a long match. Allow the flames to burn off on their own.
  5. Return the skillet to the heat. Add the stock, bring it to a simmer, and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cream and simmer 3 minutes.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter until totally incorporated into the sauce. Stir in the parsley. Taste and add additional salt to taste, if desired.
  7. Place a steak on each of 4 plates, top with the sauce, and serve.

Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook, Oxmoor House, p. 126

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