You Don’t Need a Grill — Just a Cast-Iron Pan — for This First-Rate Steak Recipe

Georgia James chef Greg Peters shares his tips for a perfect porterhouse

May 26, 2023 6:24 am
steak over a cast-iron skillet.
Goodbye grill, hello cast-iron pans.
Duc Hoang

With Memorial Day weekend upon us and summer not far behind, the likelihood that you’ll fire up steaks or burgers increases with each passing day. Grills get the lion’s share of attention during the summer, and they are the perfect centerpieces for patio gatherings. But apartment dwellers and plenty of others don’t have grills at their disposal. What they do have: a stove. And a stove is no consolation prize, especially when paired with a cast-iron pan.

“The best way to cook a steak is in a cast-iron pan,” Greg Peters tells InsideHook. He’s the executive chef at Georgia James, the lauded Houston steakhouse that champions cast-iron cooking. When heat is applied to protein, you get the coveted Maillard reaction, in which the meat’s natural sugars caramelize and form a crust. “You get that on the grill with grill marks, but in a pan we’re making one giant grill mark,” Peters says. “Every inch of the steak is caramelized and seared, so the whole surface has a nice crust.”

High heat also renders the fat out of a well-marbled steak. That fat falls through grill grates, but it stays in a pan and becomes part of the cooking process, helping to flavor the meat. Pans also let you throw in extras, like butter, garlic and herbs to baste and finish a steak.

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Before you place meat on a cast-iron surface, you first need to prep the pan. Peters suggests putting the stove on low heat for about 15 minutes prior to cooking. Let the pan warm up slowly, and the porous surface will tighten to help you achieve a good sear. 

“If food sticks to your pan, you probably didn’t take enough time to bring it up to temperature,” says Peters. “A damp protein on that porous surface will stick to all the nooks and crannies.”

When the Georgia James crew is done cooking for the evening, they wipe out their pans with a wet towel, let them dry, then apply a light coat of oil. This helps to season the pan for better cooking and longevity. You should do the same at home.

Below, Peters shares his recipe for cooking a perfect porterhouse. Make them this weekend for your Memorial Day gathering, or save it for yourself.

Greg Peters’s Porterhouse Steak Recipe

Servings: 2-3

  • 1 36-oz. porterhouse steak
  • 5 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 oz. butter
  • 10 sprigs thyme
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper, to season
    1. 30 minutes prior to cooking, take the porterhouse out of the refrigerator and let it sit out at room temperature. 

    2. 15 minutes prior to cooking, place the cast iron skillet over low heat on the stove. 

    3. When ready to begin cooking, season each side of the porterhouse with salt and pepper.

    4. Add vegetable oil to the skillet and turn up the heat to medium-high. Once oil starts to shimmer, place the steak in the skillet. 

    5. Sear for 5-6 minutes. Do not move the porterhouse during this time. Allow the sear to build a good crust. 

    6. Flip the steak and sear for another 5-6 minutes. 

    7. Add butter, thyme and garlic, and baste the steak for 3-4 minutes. 

    8. Remove from the skillet and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.


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