I had a long day at work yesterday, and barely got home before 8 pm. As I walked into the door the age old dilemna presented itself: What shall I make for dinner? Not in the mood to stand for too long in the kitchen after 12 hours on my feet…I grabbed the quickest things I could find in the fridge and pantry, deciding on the classic combination of steak and potatoes.
I am a solid multitasker and have learned to start the oven from the get go and throw the things that take the longest in first in order to get a meal on the table quickly and have all elements finish at roughly the same time. Since eventually I intended to finish the steak in the oven, tonight’s temp was a toasty 400 degrees. I pulled the steak out and put it on a plate so that is could come up closer to room temperature and seasoned both sides with raw sugar, kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and a liberal dose of Penzey’s Mitchell Steak seasoning. We have been buying the Denver Steakhouse cut from Hyvee. They have not only been on sale…but are decently thick and have a nice amount of marbling which yields great flavor.
While that was resting, I put my trusty iron skillet over a medium heat with 2 TBSPS of olive oil. I also tossed in 4 cloves of garlic and 4 sprigs of fresh thyme to season the oil. Seasonings the oil adds depth of flavor, smells awesome, and helps me determine the pan is hot enough. All extremely essential aspects of a properly cooked steak!
I then peeled 2 small sweet potatoes and subsequently cut then into thin disks, tossed with olive oil and pancake syrup, placing the entire batch in a glass loaf pan. From there they were stuck and centered in the oven on the top shelf as they needed the most heat and longest duration in the oven. I set a timer for 30 minutes, but knew they might need more time. *Note* You can always ADD time later as needed, however it is almost impossible to uncook or unburn an item once the damage is done.
At this point the cast iron was hot enough to sear, so I tossed in the steaks, heard a satisfying sizzle, and took note of the time (28 minutes) so that I could know when to flip the steak, approximately 8 minutes. It’s so tempting to do, but try not to move the steak. Like most proteins, it greatly benefits for exposure to hot even heat. As long as it’s not smoking or spattering it’s best to let the pan do its thing.
Meanwhile, I repurposed some leftover mashed potatoes plus odds and ends in the fridge/pantry into a quick twice baked potato side. To do this I spray 2 small custard cups with cooking oil and scooped a large heaping spoonful of potatoes into each one, then smoothed flat with the same spoon. To add flavor and substance I sprinkled with pepper, green onions, crumbled bacon and blue cheese. I then covered with a small amount of shredded sharp cheddar cheese and topped each with a 2nd heaping spoonful of potatoes. I also sprinkled this with crumbled bacon, chives, and shredded sharp cheddar cheese. At this point the meat was ready to be flipped, so I did, and took note of the time left so that I could track 6 minutes of steak time (20 minutes); and then put both custard cups into the oven on either side of the sweet potatoes. Having come from the fridge and needing to melt the cheese on top and inside, I guessed 20 minutes should do it. Again, you can add time if you need to.
At the 6 minute (14 minutes) mark I cut 4 slices of a rolled fresh herb and garlic butter and placed 2 on each steak. I then stuck the skillet in the bottom rack of the oven and left it inside for 4 minutes (10 minutes) to melt the butter and finish cooking the meat to a medium rare. Once done, I returned the pan to the stove and spooned the melted butter and pan drippings several timrs over every inch of the steaks, and let them rest in the pan for the 9 minutes until the sweet potato timer beeped. As you can see in the photo, there was a nice crust, and the addition of the butter helps enhance the flavor and the moisture level of the meat.
Once the oven timer went off, I checked the sweet potatoes to ensure they were fork tender, and the twice baked potatoes for some level of crustiness and a melted cheesy top. As this was the case, everything was plated and ready to serve ASAP. The actually cooking only taking 40 minutes when you include the prep and serving. Oh, and super yummy. 🙂