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Cast iron skillet temperature for steak?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 09, 2013 at 6:25 PM

My favorite method for cooking steak and burgers is to sear both sides in a cast iron skillet then put the whole thing in a 450 oven for a few minutes. However, despite looking at dozens of recipes, I've never seen a recommendation for how hot the SKILLET (not the oven) should be.

I have an IR thermometer so I know exactly how hot my skillet is. It can get to nearly 1000 degrees with my range on high (I was shocked how hot pans on a range get - love the IR thermometer!). All recipes say something like "get your skillet screaming hot" but does this mean 1000 degrees or more like 500 degrees? A steak on a 600 degree skillet already makes a ton of smoke. Would a 1000 degree skillet ruin a beautiful steak or give it an even nicer caramelization?

Does the fact that the skillet will far exceed the smoke point of all fats/oils limit the maximum skillet temperature you should use?

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on March 10, 2013
at 01:39 PM

Agreed. Personally I prefer the reverse sear method. salted in the over at 250 for 20 minutes and then onto a hot pan. Also works on the grill, smoke rack for 20 minutes and then onto the hot grills.

4610451431ec7155c87a5698be682a95

(1122)

on March 10, 2013
at 02:28 AM

NAILED it on the resting! So many people cut into seared meat before its ready and get blood gravy. : )

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5 Answers

1
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on March 09, 2013
at 09:30 PM

800 degrees is pretty darn hot and will quickly sear the steak, that is about how hot a grill will get. I'd be surprised if your skillet is actually 1000 degrees, maybe in certain spots but probably not the whole thing.

Note that at any temp above about 400F you are likely destroying whatever fat or oil you are using, and are producing some carcinogens. You can get a good sear at lower temps if the meat is dry when it hits the pan (dry of moisture, not fat) and if it makes good contact and you don move it for a minute or two.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on March 10, 2013
at 01:39 PM

Agreed. Personally I prefer the reverse sear method. salted in the over at 250 for 20 minutes and then onto a hot pan. Also works on the grill, smoke rack for 20 minutes and then onto the hot grills.

0
Ab6daa520210dacab54a86aee2f60a5e

on May 18, 2013
at 02:39 AM

The Alton Brown method, ie burner on high, destroys the skillet's seasoning in one go, fills the house with smoke, and annoys the wife.

0
61848fb3934eb0f08abacf0b920bf81b

on March 10, 2013
at 01:36 AM

The simple answer is 500. Hot enough to sear the steak quickly, but not so hot that you risk burning it in an instant.

The less simple answer is try cooking a steak in the pan at various temperatures. Eat steak every night for a week and go 500 - 1000 in 100 degree increments, stopping when it becomes less palatable. Use the remaining 2 days to fine tune the temperature.

7 days of steak? The things we do for science.

Personally, I would go this route - its never done me wrong... http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/pan-seared-rib-eye-recipe/index.html

Also... http://www.steamykitchen.com/163-how-to-turn-cheap-choice-steaks-into-gucci-prime-steaks.html

0
Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

on March 10, 2013
at 12:15 AM

I fling some water drops from the faucet off my fingertips. When it pops it's good.

0
Ef777978cfeb8fbdd18d75c4f6c4cb23

on March 09, 2013
at 10:19 PM

I have no idea how hot this is, but cheffy advice on cooking steak frequently sounds like this:

Heat up a dry pan/skillet. When it starts to smoke, add oil, when that starts to smoke add steak, sear etc.

Works perfectly for me every time. BTW you must remember to rest the meat after you take it out of the oven. It makes all the difference.

Sorry I can't be more scientific.

4610451431ec7155c87a5698be682a95

(1122)

on March 10, 2013
at 02:28 AM

NAILED it on the resting! So many people cut into seared meat before its ready and get blood gravy. : )

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