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Wednesday, March 16, 2005 

What this is about...

I love Food.

That doesn't make me much different from many people. I wanted to create my own corner of the web where I could stow away thoughts, ideas, hints, recipes and so forth for my own future reference. If people find them interesting, then that is an added bonus.

I like to cook, but find that most of my good cooking takes place on the weekend. That also seems to be the time that I am most consumed by food. Thus the "Part Time Gourmet" label. On the weekends I get together with friends...we have food. PBS and Food Network have a greater variety of cooking shows on television. People are in the grocery stores. Weekends and food are linked closely together.

For my first post, I wanted to share this idea for cooking a steak when you don't have a grill available. I live in an apartment complex where a grill is not an option, yet I still love steak. Here's a technique that was passed onto me:

I use a cast iron pan and an oven in the winter for steaks

This technique will also generate a fair amount of smoke, so turn on your vent fan and crack a window to allow good airflow. Don't worry, though, the only smell that will linger will be that of delicious steak.

First, set your steak out and allow it to come to room temperature.

Now, put your seasoned skillet in the oven and set the temperature to "broil." Allow it to heat for 15 to 20 minutes. While the oven is heating, season the steak on both sides with liberal pinches of kosher and freshly ground black pepper. Add a light coating of canola oil. NOTE: I don't recommend regular vegetable or olive oil for this method, as their smoke points are too low.

Once your oven heating is done, turn your large stove burner to high. If it's an electric stove, allow the burner to come to full temp. Remove the skillet from the oven and set it on the burner for another three minutes. You will now have an insanely hot cooking surface.

Using tongs, place the steak in the skillet. After 30 seconds, turn it over to brown the other side. Wearing your welding gloves, transfer the pan to the center rack of your oven and cook for three minutes on each side. (NOTE: This cooking time is for an inch-thick steak. Adjust your time for thinner cuts.)

Remove the skillet from the oven, and move the steak to a platter to stand. This is perhaps the most neglected portion of any meat cooking process. If you cut into a steak, pork chop or even chicken before it's had time stand, you will end up with a platter dripping with juices that belong in the meat. Allow your steak to stand, with a tent of foil to retain the heat, for 10 minutes and you'll be rewarded with beef that is as juicy on the last bite as it was on the first, and leftovers that won't have the texture of cardboard.