How to Cook the Perfect Ribeye: Master Searing in a Cast Iron Skillet
Cooking a delicious, tender ribeye may seem daunting, but with the right guidance, anyone can become a master in their own kitchen. The secret? Using a cast iron skillet, which not only enhances the flavor but also provides the perfect sear. In this guide, we'll show you that the key to a mouthwatering steak is not just about selecting a quality cut of meat, but also about employing the correct cooking techniques. Let's embark on this culinary journey together, and turn your kitchen into a steakhouse with the perfect (and simple!) cast iron skillet steak.
CAST IRON MEDIUM-RARE RIBEYE, STOVETOP METHOD
Let's begin with the essentials: a quality ribeye, real butter, kosher or coarse sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary. Ribeye boasts a delectable meaty flavor, and when combined with simple ingredients and cooked correctly, it's all the flavor you'll need.
The timing of when you salt your steak is crucial for achieving the perfect sear. For the best skillet-seared steak, you have two optimal salting options:
- Salt at least 50-60 minutes before putting it on the skillet (ideally longer).
- Salt immediately before placing the steak in the skillet.
Though it may seem trivial, proper salting is vital for a great, dry sear. If you salt your steak and place it in the skillet just 2-3 minutes later, the salt will start to draw out moisture from the steak. This will cause the steak to smoke, steam, and dry out rather than searing properly.
The ideal method is to salt and rest the steak overnight in your refrigerator. The second-best option would be to salt and rest for 50-60 minutes before cooking. The third-best choice is to salt immediately before cooking. Just make sure to avoid the 2 to 50-minute salt window to achieve the perfect sear.
ALWAYS PREHEAT CAST IRON
Start by preheating your cast iron skillet for 4 to 5 minutes on high heat. Preheating is essential, particularly with cast iron, which has excellent heat retention but lacks fast heat distribution. Thorough preheating helps avoid hot spots and sticking.
Cast iron is perfect for cooking steaks due to its heat retention properties. In comparison to aluminum or stainless steel pans, which lose heat rapidly, cast iron provides a beautiful sear and maintains high heat even after flipping the steak.
The Victoria SIGNATUREseries is designed for the perfect balance of weight. The thick, heavy bottom retains heat, while thinner upper walls and handle reduce weight. In this example, we used a Victoria SIGNATUREseries SIGNATUREsoft 12-inch skillet, which took about 4:30 minutes to reach the ideal temperature.
ADDING THE STEAK TO YOUR CAST IRON SKILLET
Once your skillet is hot, add the butter and let it melt, swirling it around to evenly coat the cooking surface without burning. You can also throw in a few garlic cloves for extra flavor. Pat the steak dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture, this helps create a better crust and sear.
After the butter has melted and coated the skillet, carefully lower the steak onto the hot cast iron. Position the steak so it lies flat, making even contact with the cooking surface for a consistent sear. Allow the steak to cook undisturbed for about 1-2 minutes, this will allow it to develop a nice crust.
Using a spatula or tongs, gently lift one side of the steak to check if it's sticking. If it is, the crust might not be ready, and you should wait a bit longer before flipping. Moving or lifting the steak prematurely could cause sticking and tearing. Once it's ready, flip the steak over to cook the other side.
COOK TO DESIRED DONENESS
Lower the heat, and let the second side sear and cook to the desired doneness. In our example, we waited for it to reach an internal temperature of 135-137 °F for a medium-rare steak.
If you don't have a thermometer, you may cut a small section in the center to take a peek. As long as you're not shredding your steak, a single cut is okay and preferable to overcooking.
REMOVE, REST AND SERVE
Take your steak off the skillet and place on a plate or cutting board.
After cooking your steak to the desired level of doneness, it's essential to let it rest for ten minutes before cutting into it. Cover the steak loosely with aluminum foil to keep it warm during this resting period. The reason behind this crucial step is to allow the juices within the meat to redistribute evenly. As the steak cooks, the heat forces the juices toward the center of the meat. By allowing the steak to rest, the juices have time to flow back towards the outer edges, resulting in a more tender, moist, and flavorful steak. Resting also allows the muscle fibers to relax, further enhancing the steak's tenderness.
Skipping this step could lead to a dryer and less satisfying steak, as cutting into the steak too soon would cause the juices to run out, leaving the meat less juicy and tender.
Our favorite way to enjoy this is by cutting it into strips and eating it straight off the cutting board (I know, savages!)