Updated: 7 days ago
Who says pumpkin spice is just for desserts? Steak wants in on the pie-spiced action!
For the printable recipe click here.
Just to be clear . . .
I mean, I feel like the cover picture probably cleared up any questions, but just in case . . .
This post is about steak--as in a slab of beef from a cow, not a a slab of pumpkin. Don't get me wrong, I love a good vegan dish. Pumpkin steak could be good. But that's just not what we're doing here today. Not. At. All.
Also, this is one of those potentially controversial recipes in which "pumpkin spice" refers to the use of a pumpkin-pie-spice blend but does not include any actual pumpkin. It may be semantics, but these are the kinds of topics that get people all tied up in knots this time of year, so it's best to just lay it all out on the table, haha.
Alright, now we can get to the good stuff.
A walk on the savory side
The other day I whirred up a batch of pumpkin pie spice and started getting all geared up for pumpkin spice season.
When thinking about how to best utilize my delightfully seasonal spice mix, a few thoughts popped right into my mind. My pumpkin spice biscuits were a huge success, but my attempt at a sweeter pumpkin-spice treat left a lot to be desired. So I wondered, what if we swing the opposite direction and go full savory? Who says pumpkin spice can't be for a main course, anyway?
The first thing that popped into my mind was a nice, juicy ribeye steak, so I popped over to the store and plopped a couple in my cart.
My husband was totally skeptical. "Can you just do your weird thing to one of them and be normal with the other?" he begged.
But I kid you not: by the time that all was sliced and served, he was begging for more of my freakishly delicious pumpkin spice steak. And don't be surprised if you do, too.
Pumpkin Spice Steak. Let's do this!
Once you've wrapped your mind around pumpkin spice flavor on a steak--at least enough to say, "challenge accepted"-- it's go time.
The basic plan of action here follows what we at the Monster Casa call "The Alton Method." I believe we picked it up from the "Steak Your Claim" episode of Good Eats Reloaded. It's a reverse-sear technique that involves a sort of quick dry-aging of the meat before cooking for about an hour at a low oven temp and then finishing with a brush of olive oil and a quick sear in a screaming hot cast iron skillet.
The record-scratch moment here is that in step one, when prepping the steak for its drying phase, I mix a couple of secret ingredients in with the kosher salt.
Spoiler alert: the first one's pumpkin pie spice. Then, just to play into the savory side of the spices and give this steak a little Texas flair: cayenne. Not enough to blow steam out of little monster ears, but just enough to engage the senses a little more and increase the yum factor.
Do you need a meat thermometer?
In life? Yes, you should get one, they're a great idea. In this recipe? Meh. I never use one for something like this anymore.
Having said that . . . I often order rare steaks when I go out. They could put it on my plate still mooing, and I'd grab a fork. So in the event you buy super thick steaks and you aren't ok with the possibility of a squishy center, I would recommend using the probe-type of meat thermometer you stick in the sides of the steaks before cooking. It should have a little alarm connected to it that stays outside the oven and beeps when the desired temp (120 degrees F) has been achieved. But if you're sticking with a cut that's around 1-inch thick, you shouldn't have issues with under-cooking.
If your steaks are less than an inch thick, you will likely need a little less time in the oven, and you will want to be careful to get your cast-iron skillet super-duper hot before searing so that you can get a bit of a crust very quickly without an extended stay in the hot pan.
The great thing about this method is that it is very forgiving. While I despise an overcooked steak, this recipe stays moist and juicy even when the center looks a little less pink. Just follow the directions and you should be golden!
Speaking of golden--well, maybe dark, dark, dark golden brown. . .
One great thing about coating the steaks with spices is that the steak easily develops that beautiful, brown crust every cook covets in the searing stage.
Sometimes, even with a dried-out surface and a screaming-hot pan, it can be hard to get that dark, even crusting that looks incredible and signals ultimate Maillard-reaction deliciousness. But with the great addition of pumpkin pie spices in your dry rub, the crust is at its show-stopping best.
Is this method worth the time?
My initial response is a resounding HECK YES! But you will have to make that decision for yourself. I can tell you that this "Alton Method" is the only way we cook steaks anymore, and we do it a lot.
The total time involved is about a day or longer (ha!), but that includes prepping and chilling the steak, which is only about 5 minutes of active work.
The oven portion is about one hour, followed by about 2 minutes in a hot pan, and then about 10 minutes of resting before slicing up.
So yeah, it's a process, but a very chill one. Five minutes of prep the night before or morning of, a stint in the oven while you prep the rest of dinner, a quick sear, and finally a brief rest while you pour the drinks, set the table, or say a quick prayer of thanks for the amazing meal you're about to consume. Not bad for the best steak ever.
Do you have to use rib eye steak?
Nope. Rich, well-marbled ribeye holds up really well to the assertiveness of the spices in this recipe, but any cut of steak will do. Most of the time I like to find a good price on grass-fed steaks and go with whatever cut that happens to be. Aldi often has great prices on grass-fed ribeyes.
A note on the salt factor
This recipe calls for a teaspoon salt on each side of the meat. Especially in some paleo circles, that could be considered a lot. The salt does serve an important purpose in achieving the proper texture and moisture level in the meat, so I wouldn't skimp too much, but if you have a thinner cut of meat, you could probably get away with using a little less.
Here's what you'll need:
2 kosher salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp cayenne
Several cranks black pepper, optional
1 steak (pref. grass-fed ribeye or strip), about 1 ½ inch thick
2 tsp olive oil, not extra virgin
Here's what you'll do:
Prep the spices: in a cup or small bowl, mix together the salt, pumpkin pie spice, cayenne, and black pepper (if using).
Prep the steak: set a wire cooling rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. Place the steak on the rack, and thoroughly coat the entire steak with the spices, using the entire mixture. Place this entire setup, uncovered, in the fridge for at least 8 hours, preferably 24.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Place the steak setup in the oven and cook for one hour or until the internal temperature of the meat is 120.
Allow the steak to rest at least 10 minutes, while you heat your skillet.
Heat a cast-iron skillet over med-high or higher heat till extremely hot, at least 10 minutes. A drop of water dripped into the pan should immediately skip and sizzle.
Use a pastry brush to brush one tsp olive oil over each side of the steak, and place the steak in the screaming hot skillet. Cook about 45-55 seconds on each side, pressing lightly on the steak with a spatula just to ensure as much of the surface area makes contact with the skillet as possible. Let rest about 5-10 minutes before slicing, Yum!!
For the printable recipe click here.
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