Blackening food is a cooking technique popularized in the 1980’s by Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme. Typically, chefs use the technique to cook foods like fish and chicken, but the method has broadened to include other meats, including steak.
Blackened steak is the specialty of many Cajun-themed restaurants, with the allure coming from how the high heat allows butter and spices to caramelize on the exterior of the meat.
Create your own blackened dish with the right equipment.
A cast iron skillet that can withstand very high heat is the most important tool needed to make blackened steak.
Set a cast iron skillet on the stove and turn the burner to high.
Get the skillet as hot as possible, which should take about 10 minutes.
Make sure your steaks are thawed and at room temperature, as frozen steaks will not cook through during the blackening process.
Melt butter in a saute pan, then dip the steaks in the butter to coat them.
Purchase thin steaks, which will cook through more easily than thick ones in the short time they are on the skillet.
Sprinkle your choice of spice rub onto the steak, coating it evenly.
Pre-made steak seasoning mixes work well, or make your own rub with spices you already have, such as black pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper.
Carefully place the steak into the hot skillet, using tongs and wearing an oven mitt.
Sear the steaks on the hot skillet for two minutes on the first side, then flip and sear for 90 seconds on the other side.
If the steak is thin enough, it should be fully cooked at this point. If not, finish it on the grill or in a hot oven to achieve the doneness you prefer.
Wipe down the skillet with a clean, dry cloth if you are blackening multiple steaks. The residue from the butter can leave an unpleasant taste on the next steaks you cook. Cook in a well-ventilated area, as the blackening process produces a good amount of smoke.
Recipe and photo: Elize de Kock