As you might remember, I was ecstatic over the successful re-conditioning my Dad’s cast iron skillet.

Bacon, sausage and fried eggs were soon triumphantly achieved. Then I was on the prowl for other delicacies to prepare.

I heard that steak could be cooked in a cast iron skillet. Well, my mouth started watering right then. We don’t often do beef at our house. I tend to either buy lesser cuts or I don’t really know how to properly cook it, so the end result is usually (ahem) less than satisfying.

With extreme optimism, we bought some boneless rib eye. Then, not knowing how to go about creating this grand meal, I went a-Googling. (My go-to method for investigating new topics.)

There were lots of suggestions for cooking steak in cast iron. I finally hit on a post from a famous chef — Alton Brown.

Reading through his recipe, it appeared to be somewhat simple — though I did slightly question at least one of his tactics. However, being a novice to the “cooking-steak-in-an-iron-skillet” process, I figured I’d trust the instructions from this well-known fellow.

The first step was to heat the oven to 500 degrees. Yes, you read that right. At that point, I should have stopped and thought about it. I’ve had several incidents with overly hot ovens resulting in the setting off of ear-splitting smoke alarms.

Once the oven reached that extreme temperature, I was to put the skillet in for five minutes. This created a burning odor but not enough to discourage me from continuing.

The next step was to put the pan on a very hot burner. So… Open oven, grab pan. Sensing intense heat through the mitt, I nearly flung it on the burner (a dangerous move for a glass-topped stove) in my haste to remove the mitt and blow on my fingers.

“Apply oil and salt and pepper and cook each side for 30 seconds. Then return the pan to the hot oven for two minutes.”

Did I say “hot”?

It soon became obvious, by the smoke billowing out around the edges of the door, that something was terribly wrong. Yet I persisted.

When the time was up, I pulled the skillet out and held it up against the exhaust fan in a (failed) attempt to reduce the smoke. (A friend happened by just then, as Husband was rushing to remove the batteries from the smoke detectors, start a fan and open the windows. The critical look on her face made me think she questioned my sanity.)

Then, despite this unfolding fiasco, I resolutely repeated the process to cook the second steak. This time, at the sound of a second smoke alarm, I realized that Husband had not removed the batteries from both alarms.

I frantically waved a kitchen towel up towards the alarm which did work, to a point. A rather irritated Husband came rushing out of the shower to assist.

Well, neither of the steaks had been cooked adequately (though they smelled wonderful despite the smoke), so I trimmed them up a bit and finished on the (not as hot) stovetop.

I doubt that the result was what Mr. Brown had intended, nor did he consider that a novice steak cooker would have such a near calamity. Else he’d have supplied some warning. Like “remove batteries from all nearby smoke alarms!”

Despite the difficulties, success — the steaks didn’t stick to the pan!

Susan Anderson lives in Opelika with her husband. Contact her at

Susan Anderson lives in Opelika with her husband. Contact her at

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