There are cast-iron skillets that are handed down from generation to generation like the family jewels.
That’s how coveted they are, especially if they are beautifully seasoned from regular use and care, rendering them the ultimate nonstick pan.
Mine doesn’t have quite that lineage. It came about when I married my husband, who brought the heavy, black pan into my life.
Naturally, what led him to buy it was his fondness for cooking steaks. He is Meat Boy, after all.
But a cast-iron skillet can do so much more. In the new book, “Home Skillet” (Rockridge Press), of which I received a review copy, Bay Area food writer Robin Donovan shows just how versatile that pan is.
You can use it to bake treats such as “Maple-Pecan and Apple Oatmeal Breakfast Bake.” You can steam in it such dishes as “Mussels Steamed in Lemongrass-Coconut Broth.” You can use it on the barbie in entrees such as “Seafood Paella on the Grill.” You can make bread in it, such as “Onion Naan.” And you can whip up desserts in it such as “Sugar Cream Pie.”
Donovan also teaches you how to care for your pan and advises never putting it in the dishwasher or leave it soaking in water for a long time. She also debunks the myth that you can’t clean a cast-iron pan with soap and water. Yes, you can, if you use a mild dish-washing liquid. Kosher salt is also handy to use to scrub off stuck-on food. And a cut potato, dipped into soap or baking soda, can help clean off rust.
Donovan and my husband must be kindred spirits because she notes in her book that “there is no better way to cook a steak than in a cast-iron skillet.”
Taste for yourself in her recipe for “Citrus-Marinated Steak Tacos.” The flank steak gets marinated for 6 to 24 hours in a range of citrus juices along with garlic, oregano and a splash of red wine.
Then, it cooks up in a hot cast-iron pan in about 10 minutes. You can’t ask for much faster than that. Plus, the steak gets a beautiful smoky sear, leaving it super juicy inside.
The meat definitely gets a slight perky tartness to it from the marinade, all the better to compliment the salsa that’s spooned on top before folding it up into a corn tortilla that is warmed in the same cast-iron pan.
This is a perfect, easy weeknight meal, one that you’ll return to again and again.
So get your skillet ready.
“Taco Tuesday” awaits.
Citrus-Marinated Steak Tacos
For the steak:
Juice of 2 limes
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
1/4 cup red wine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound flank or skirt steak
For the tacos:
8 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded lettuce
4 radishes, sliced
1 cups salsa
Lime wedges, for garnish
To make the steak: In a large, resealable plastic bag, combine the lime juice, lemon juice, orange juice, wine, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Add the steak and turn or shake to coat. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours and as long as 24 hours.
Heat a large cast iron skillet (large enough to fit the steak) over high heat. Remove the steak from the marinade (discard the marinade), and pat dry with paper towels. Add the steak to the hot skillet and cook until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn steak over and cook for 5 to 7 minutes more.
Transfer the steak to a cutting board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and rest for 5 minutes before slicing into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
To make the tacos: While the steak rests, wipe out the skillet and heat the tortillas for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.
Place 2 tortillas on each of 4 serving plates. Top each with several strips of steak and an equal portion of the lettuce, radishes, and salsa. Garnish with a lime wedge and serve immediately.
From “Home Skillet” by Robin Donovan
More Tacos to Tantalize: Lamb Adobo Taco with Spices and Orange