Saturday, February 26, 2011

Blackened Steak Experiment

Can you feel it in the air?

It's coming.  I see it on the buds of tree.  I hear it in the voices of birds.  I smell it in the....ACHOOOOOO.... pollen floating around.  Yes I'm talking about SPRING!  Dig out and thaw out people, SPRING IS COMING SOON.

It was a beautiful blue sky day today and it couldn't be wasted inside.   Today was a day for playing in my open air kitchen on the deck.   I decided to blacken a ribeye steak, something I have not done before.   Steak doesn't need anything more than salt, pepper and charcoal, but I was in the mood for something different.

"Blackening" does not meant burned meat.  Blackening is a high heat cooking method that creates a dark, spicy seasoning crust on properly cooked meat.  Since it is high heat, it works best with relatively lean proteins such as fish, steaks, and pork chops.   This method was invented by famed chef, Paul Prudhome, so you can imagine the seasonings are Cajun based.

Blackened Ribeye Steak

2 ea ribeye steaks, at least 1" thick

1/2 Tbsp paprika
1 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp thyme, ground
1/4 tsp oregano, ground
1/4 tsp celery seed 

1/2 cup butter
1 clove garlic minced
1 tsp Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning  (You could substitute some of the blackening rub or a cajun rub)

Special equipment:  Cast iron skillet

One of the most important parts of proper blackening is making sure your cast iron skillet is cooking over a "rocket hot" grill, basically as hot as you can get it.  If you are using a normal charcoal grill, use Kingsford Competition Briquettes or lump charcoal for this one, they burn hotter. [Click here for a great explanation by John Dawson of Patio Daddio.]

Preheat your cast iron skillet.  Trust me, don't cheat here.  The entire process depends on a HOT HOT skillet.  Let the skillet preheat for 10-15 minutes.   

Not a skillet but plays one on TV.

Yeah, that's not a skillet.  I got a spider rig from the Ceramic Grill Store this week.  When cleaning last night, I noticed that the upside down lid to a Lodge #12 cast iron dutch oven makes a concave griddle that fits the spider rig PERFECTLY!  

Rub your steaks heavily with the rub on both sides.  Set aside.

Make your garlic butter mix by heating all the ingredients for a few minutes in a small sauce pan over medium heat.

Now it is time to drop the hammer on these steaks.  Pour some of the garlic butter mixture on one side of each and place that side down on the skillet.  Be prepared for some serious smoke.  That is why you do this outdoors!

Cook for a few minutes (2 minutes med-rare, 3 minutes medium) and then flip.  Ladle a little of the garlic butter mixture over the steaks.  Be careful when doing this because splash overs can cause a flash fire.  (My Facebook followers will see the uncensored video of this.)  If that happens, don't panic.  Just close the grill top and the fire should extinguish itself quickly.  

Remove the steaks from the grill to a raised rack to rest for 5-10 minutes.  I use a baking cooling rack over a plate, but you could just steal the rack out of your toaster oven.  When you put the steaks flat on a plate to rest, the heat trapped between the meat and the plate will "steam" the meat pores open, releasing the juices.  Raising the steaks prevents that. 

When serving, top with a little of the garlic butter mixture.

My test steak turned out darkened just right but not burned at all. 

And the inside was still nice and juicy.  

I prefer my steak medium-rare and this one turned out medium but that is because I gave both sides an extra flip for about 45 seconds each.  Next time I'll stick with the 2 minutes per side for medium rare or use a thicker steak.   The flavors were bold and a bit of a party, just like you would expect from Louisiana.   

Cheerwine Comes To Knoxville
The Carolina soft drink company is celebrating their expansion into Tennessee with a special event at Calhoun's on Neyland Drive this Thursday, March 3rd.    Guests can win various Cheerwine prizes, including an iPod, T-shirts, 12-packs of Cheerwine and goodie bags. Hors d'oeuvres and light refreshments, including drink specials, will be served.   If you are interested, visit Cheerwine on Facebook, at, to RSVP for a coveted invitation.