Scott Loftis

From the Editor

Scott Loftis is managing editor for Carroll County Newspapers. His email address is CarrollCountyNews@cox-internet.com


Sharing my secret recipe

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

I donít have a lot of hobbies. I like to watch baseball, I like to fish with a cane pole and I enjoy watching a good movie ó although Iím consistently amazed at the number of bad movies that get made.

But the ďhobbyĒ I seem to spend the most time at, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, is cooking.

Iím not sure when I first realized that I enjoyed cooking, although I clearly recognized pretty early on that I enjoy eating. I didnít learn to cook from someone else; Iím self-taught, with a little help from recipes and techniques Iíve found online.

I donít have a huge repertoire, but I have to say the things I do cook are pretty dadgum good: spaghetti, chili, chicken stir-fry, pork chops, even baked salmon. I even cooked a Thanksgiving turkey in my slow cooker a couple of months ago and it turned out delicious!

My specialty, though, is steak. I grew up eating steak every now and then, always well-done. It wasnít until I attended a catered event where all the steak was served medium-rare that I realized what I was missing. Now, I always order it that way and Iíve learned to cook a steak at home that is, pardon my bragging, pretty much perfect.

I cook my steaks in a cast-iron grill pan, searing them on the stovetop and finishing them in a 500-degree oven. Itís a technique I learned while I was living in an apartment and needed to cook inside.

It took me a while to get the process down, but now Iíve got it mastered. The two biggest keys are seasoning the meat properly and turning them on time.

I prefer New York strips because I find them the most consistent. A really good ribeye is even better but not all ribeyes are the same.

Hereís the process for the steak-and-potato dinner I cook just about every Sunday. It may sound a little unconventional but the end result is delicious.

First, pour about a cup of olive oil into a bowl and sprinkle in some garlic powder. Clean your potatoes and then dry them with a paper towel and dip them in the olive oil. Thereís no need to poke them with a fork. The potatoes then go in the air fryer at 330 degrees for 40 minutes.

For the steaks, itís best to leave them on the counter for a while beforehand to bring them to room temperature. Youíll want to preheat your oven to 500 degrees with the cast-iron skillet or grill pan inside (I prefer the grill pan because it leaves gorgeous char marks on the meat).

Dip the steaks in the leftover olive oil, then sprinkle them liberally with meat tenderizer, garlic and Montreal steak seasoning. Itís very important not to skimp on the seasoning. I promise, itís just about impossible to use too much.

Once the oven has reached 500 degrees, turn a burner on the stovetop on high and let it heat up. Then move the grill pan to that burner and place the steaks in the pan. Your cooking time will depend on the thickness of the steaks. Typically, I get mine at the local supercenter. For those, you want to sear them for 1 minute, 15 seconds on each side. After both sides are seared, theyíre ready for the oven. Pro tip: rotate the steaks in the grill pan so the char marks are in a cross-hatch pattern. In the oven, cook each side for two minutes and 30 seconds. Then remove them from the oven, move them from the grill pan to a room-temperature plate and let them rest for five minutes. If you like, you can add a pat of butter on top of each steak. A couple of folks have scoffed at the idea of letting the steaks rest, but it really does improve the flavor. I use the resting time to load up my potato with butter and sour cream.

For thicker steaks, youíll need more cooking time. If I get my steaks from a local store that specializes in meats, Iíll sear them for two minutes per side, then give them four minutes for each side in the oven.

Let me know how yours turn out!