You’ve seen it on the menu a thousand times – a blackened steak. Yet for some reason you always pass by this menu item, choosing instead the filet mignon wrapped in bacon or the ribeye that’s been grilled to perfection. While there are many choices at the best steakhouse in Montreal, it’s time to give the blackened steak the chance is deserves – next time you see it on the menu be sure to give it a try.
What is a blackened steak?
Not all steakhouse menus have a blackened steak. Traditionally, the method of blackening a steak has been used more in the south than in the north. In the south, many dishes are influenced by the Cajun cuisine. The blackened steak falls into this category.
Blackening is a cooking technique that is used on more than just steak. In many southern restaurants, chefs use the process for chicken, fish, game, and even for some vegetarian dishes such as blackened and grilled vegetables. Blackening on steak is an exceptional way to seal in the juiciness of the steak and make your mouth water.
There’s really only one way to get blackened steak, and that’s to use a cast iron skillet. The technique is all about searing the steak in the pan over very high heat. You want an almost-burnt crust to develop on the steak while keeping the inside tender and at just the right temperature.
What cuts of steak are best?
At first, blackened steak might not sound very appealing, but if it’s on the menu you can be assured the chef has gotten it right. Chefs will use some of the most popular cuts of meat when using the blackening technique, such as a ribeye or a New York strip. The reason these cuts are used is because they don’t have a lot of extra fat and they can be cooked evenly all over. Once they’ve been blackened and have a crust, they’re still tender and juicy inside.
It’s all about the seasoning
Blackened steak isn’t just about the seared crust on the meat, it’s also about the seasoning. It’s this spice blend that’s going to make the steak smell enticing and taste exciting. The seasoning needs to be intense and deep…and most often these seasonings have a Cajun influence to them.
Many chefs adjust the spices according to their own preference, using a combination of different spices, taking them from a basic blackening spice to Creole all the way to authentic Cajun.
The difference in spicy seasonings
A really good blackening spice provides just enough heat, a deepness of flavor, and some undertones of combined spices. All blends of blackening spices are made with some basic ingredients that can include pepper, paprika, onion powder, and garlic. Using just these base ingredients makes a delicious spice mix for blackening any steak.
There are a few other ingredients that chefs add to spice things up even more. An authentic Cajun seasoning is usually the spiciest, getting a lot of heat with the addition of cayenne pepper. Creole seasonings often have a few herbs thrown into the mix, such as basil and oregano.
Unique seasoning blends
You don’t need to stick with the Cajun influenced blackened spice blend. If you’re making your own blackened steak at home, dare to be a little adventurous. Use this unique blend that adds a different flavor to the steak, no matter what cut you decide to use: black pepper, black salt, smoked paprika, black garlic powder, and Porcini mushroom powder. You may have to visit a specialty spice shop to find some of these spices…but the trip will be well worth it.
What to eat with blackened steak
You don’t want the side dishes to overwhelm and take away from the great taste of your blackened steak. Stick with subtle side dishes that are going to enhance the flavor. Grilled onions, zucchini, and green beans are a nice choice.
Another great side dish option is a simple green salad and grilled tomatoes. Be sure to grill the tomatoes in the same skillet you blackened the steak in.
The next time blackened steak is a menu option, be sure to order it!