Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cast Iron Chef: Seared Scallops & Citrus Ginger Steaks

It's the final installment of Cast Iron Chef Week. This week I've used the cast iron grill grate, skillet, and dutch oven. Tonight I close out by using the cast iron griddle.

There are several versions of the cast iron griddle. There is the common one above that has a grid side and a flat side (aka "flat top") that I got at Lowes a few years ago for about $12. It is conveniently sized at 18.5", fitting most charcoal kettle grills. Our GE oven came with a range top cast iron griddle insert. Weber grills offer a griddle plate ($55). Tonight I used the griddle plate insert ($28) for the modular Craycourt cast iron grate.

It is also reversible with a grid side and a flat top. Inserts like this, the pizza stone, and the chicken holder make this great grate even more versatile.

Our high temperatures have not been over freezing for six days, it isn't expected to for another 3 days and it snowed today. [enter sarcastic mode] So naturally, we decided surf n turf was in order [exit sarcastic mode].

The Big Green Egg had a dusting of snow even though it was under the cover of an EZ-Up.

Cast Iron Tip: To get the best out of your cast iron, bring it to temp gradually. I have heard of people cracking cast iron grates by putting cold cast iron on a hot grill. Put it on the grill as soon as you light the fire. For pans, I like to put them in the oven before I turn it on.

Also, when temp of your cooker first hits your target temp, say 500f, your cast iron isn't there yet, he's still catching up. I like to give my cast iron 15 minutes at the target temperature so it can soak up all that heat. That way it's ready to dish it out when the steaks hit the grate.

I marinaded two NY Strip Steaks adapting a Citrus Ginger Marinade from the 25th Anniversary The Fresh Market & Friends Cookbook that I received as a gift from our neighbors. While I usually like my steaks with just salt/pepper or my beef rub, I really enjoyed the flavors that this marinade brought to the steaks.

Citrus Ginger Steak Marinade
adapted from 25th Anniversary The Fresh Market & Friends Cookbook
1/4 cup apricot/pineapple preserves (sub any citrus jelly/jam/preserve)
1/4 cup orange juice
1 ounce water
1 ounce soy sauce
1/2 ounce balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon ginger, fresh grated
1 clove roasted garlic (sub minced garlic if you have to)
1/4 cup olive oil

Mix all ingredients and marinade steaks for 6 hours.

I removed the steak from the marinade and then grilled at 500f for 2 minutes a side twice for a total of 8 minutes. Keep a careful eye on the steaks as the sugar in the marinade is prone to burning. Next time I'd do shorter sear times and then finish at a roasting temp.

I removed the steaks from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes. While the steaks rest, I cut the temperature of the Big Green Egg back (aiming for 350f), inserted the seasoned preheated griddle flat side up and let it come to temp. I hit the griddle with just a teaspoon of vegetable oil and when the oil just begins to smoke, the griddle is ready for the scallops.

I seasoned the scallops with black pepper and a touch of salt. I seared the scallops 2-3 minutes a side or until a nice crisp crust has been formed. You are really going by the crust of the scallop, not times/temps.

Just before I think the scallops are done, I throw a pat of butter on the griddle. It melts almost instantly but gives that little bit extra flavor. We served it up simply with a baked potato topped with the last of the gorgonzola butter.
The Craycourt cast iron grate has been a true gem. With all the modular inserts like this griddle plate, it's like the University of Tennessee men's athletic has plenty of weapons! (Thanks for the email, Katherine ;) )

I have had fun doing "Cast Iron Chef" and learned several things this week, not only from sources like Craycourt and Lodge but also comments left by you all. That's what I love about food blogging, it is a give and take community of some of the finest people around.