I recently purchased a cast iron set and have love cooking with it. However, whenever I look up recipes/instructions on how to cook up a steak or something, it always says to cook on high heat.
I like to cook on medium to low heat to prevent carcinogens from forming, but the cast iron pan gets real hot no matter what. Any tips on successfully cooking a steak in a cast iron pan without causing carcinogens to form?
I am a cast iron noob so any tips are appreciated. Thanks!
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The problem with most home cooks is that they are afraid to cook with high heat. The Maillard Reaction is what creates caramelization and flavor - even a rare steak needs a decent sear on it to be delicious. If you are afraid of heat, don't cook your food. Raw meat is better than insipidly cooked meat.
I'm less worried about cooking with fire - after all, we've had fire for about 1M years or so - we've probably had time to adapt. If anything the early cooking was done over open flame without the benefit of pans, oils, or marinades; if it tastes so good to us, it's unlikely to be that harmful or we would have adapted senses to make it taste bad.
Just don't burn it to a crisp and eat on the raw side and you'll be fine.
Whenever food is cooked, regardless of temperature, carcinogens will form. Most foods, even without cooking, have trace amounts of carcinogens. We just have to live with them or starve. What you really don't want is for large amounts of carcinogens form. You should be able to see (black) or smell (smoke) when this has happened because your food will have burnt. To prevent burning, use more water or oil and stir more frequently.
But carcinogens taste good! I cooked filet yesterday in my cast iron, bathed in olive oil (Spanish, literally green with phytochemicals, protective!) and Kerrygold butter. 2 minutes or so a side, then turned of the heat and turned twice more while the pan did the rest of the cooking. Probably could have pulled it a bit sooner, it was closer to medium than medium rare as I like it, but still increda-tender.
the true value of the cast iron skillet is it's ability to retain and distribute heat. Here's a recipe pretty close to what Ido (except I set the oven closer to 300). Sear quickly on the range, then place into oven -- http://www.therisingspoon.com/2013/04/how-to-cook-perfect-steak-in-cast-iron.html?m=1
Marinades are a great start.
3 basic ingredients -- a fat (oil of your choice), an acid (vinegar, wine, citrus), and flavorings (spices, herbs, garlic.) The more herbs and spices you use, the more protective (and better-tasting) your marinade.
Hey @Desmond I love cooking steaks with my Nomiku! It's a great tool to cook excellent steaks and once they are done all you do is sear them on each side, greatly decreasing the carcinogens. It's such an amazing tool and I have been very happy with it, the fact that it fully cooks the meat is fantastic! I hope this helps!