Julia Moskin’s Steak with Sam Sifton’s Potatoes

The New York Times is having a tough moment and though some are basking in the scandal, I’d rather take the Ira Glass route and turn the other way. Well not so far that I stop actually reading the Times; it’s still the paper of record, as far as I’m concerned. And though I’ve griped about the Magazine food section growing a bit stale (can’t we get a few other writers into the mix?), I still read it regularly, along with the Dining section where many of the recipes–particularly those by Melissa Clark–earn a bookmark in my browser. Last week, though, two recipes earned a bookmark in my brain; Julia Moskin’s steak recipe–which involves cooking a high-quality steak in a cast iron skillet with no fat, just salt–and Sam Sifton’s smashed potatoes, both of which I made on Sunday night for Craig who’d just arrived back from screening The Skeleton Twins at the Seattle Film Festival.

Let’s start with the steak. My normal go-to technique–featured here and here–involves adding some high-smoke oil (usually Canola) to a cast-iron skillet (essential for making steak because it retains its heat), pumping up the dial to max, and getting it as hot as I can without the oil erupting into flame (that happened to a reader once; sorry reader!). But that oil was always the problem; I could never get the pan as blazingly hot as I wanted to for fear of it catching fire. That’s what makes Julia Moskin’s technique so appealing.

First, get a good-quality steak. I went to McCall’s and bought a Porterhouse for two. Then, put a good amount of coarse kosher salt into your cast-iron skillet, crank up the heat, and let it get so hot that it pretty much hurts to hold your hand over it (or until you see smoke).


Add your steak.


To reiterate: it’s important to get a high-quality steak with good marbling. I mean, just look at that picture above; you know that’s going to turn out well because of the meat itself. That’s the key.

After a minute, flip it over.


OK, OK, some color… let’s keep it going. After a minute on the other side, flip it back.


Now we’re looking good. Keep turning it back and forth, every 30 seconds or so, also rendering the sides, until pressing into it feels like the fleshy part over your thumb when you make a fist. There should be some resistance, but not so much that you can’t press down (then it’s well done). Take it off the heat, put a pat of butter on top, and sprinkle with some parsley. Behold: my new favorite way to make steak.


As for the taters, these gave me more trouble. Mostly because I’m an idiot.

Preheat your oven to 450. Then boil some small red potatoes or gold potatoes; make sure you boil them until they’re creamy inside. I was dumb and took ’em out when a knife just went through…



Which is why the next step proved so tricky. You’re supposed to oil a cookie sheet with Canola oil and then smush the potatoes and put them on the sheet. My smushing was impaired because (1) the potatoes weren’t soft enough inside; (2) I did the smushing on the oiled sheet itself, so the potatoes shot around everywhere.



Still, I knew an oven-fried potato would still taste good even if the smushing wasn’t successful. You just drizzle on more Canola oil, toss them around, sprinkle on salt and pop them into that 450 oven for 20 – 25 minutes and out they come looking all brown and crunchy. On a lark, I chopped up some parsley and garlic and tossed them with the hot taters. This, it turns out, was a good idea.


What can I say? The Gray Lady didn’t disappoint; this was an undeniably wonderful dinner–especially paired with some robust red wine from Lou Provisions (which is connected to the NYT too; Lou’s wife is Manohla Dargis). This meal is a testament to all that the Times does well. Let’s hope this scandal blows over soon so we can all keep eating pretty.

42 thoughts on “Julia Moskin’s Steak with Sam Sifton’s Potatoes”

  1. I’ve always been afraid to try cooking a steak in a cast iron pan. I don’t have an exhaust fan over my stove and I suspect this cooking method will be smoky as heck. Do you need good ventilation with this method?

  2. Yes, you do. I have a pro grade vent hood and still get the aroma of searing steak in the house! Also, Jaime Oliver has a great recipe for smashed roasted potatoes that are similar to these.

  3. I can’t remember if it was MasterChef Australia or MasterChef New Zealand – but one of the chefs during a MasterClass session performed this exact same technique to cook a steak. That was a few months ago.

  4. Not sure why Sam Sifton is taking credit for Jill Dupleix’s recipe – but it’s been all over the internet for several years.

  5. Cast iron is the only way to cook most anything in my book. You get the most even sear. Also, I agree about the NYT Magazine food section. Melissa Clark is the most consistently interesting and thoughtful writer — always worth reading (and cooking!) Can’t stand Mark BIttman — too preachy and dumbed down. (Am I the only one who thinks this?) Interesting way to make a steak, as I usually just do one turn. This seems like a better way to control how much it cooks.

  6. The potato technique isn’t new but when its done well its awesome! Definately boil longer, and then just “crack” the skin. Thyme, rosemary, and more oil. I use a large baking pan so they stay together. Some fresh grated parm for the last five minutes.

  7. Well I first read of this method of making potatoes over 7 years ago on another cooking blog, so they’re hardly “Sam Siftons” potatoes. But yes, they’re pretty good.

  8. Adam, I don’t want to be TOO nosy, just curious. Who gets the tenderloin portion of a steak like this, you or Craig?

    1. Adam Amateur Gourmet

      Craig! I always give him the best parts because I’m such a sweetheart and he does the dishes.

    1. You can speed this up by putting the small potatoes in a glass bowl covered by water and microwaving them for 10 minutes. Then proceed as normal. They will be perfectly cooked for smushing

  9. That was my mother’s technique of choice for steaks back in the late 1970s. I don’t have a hood or fan, so even if it’s snowing, I pretty much go outside to the gas grill, but memories …

    1. Click on his “recipe” tab there is a veg section and bean section. You might find something there.

  10. I guess there is no place for my question here? If an editor of this page gets to read, can he/she be kind enough to answer? And be inclusive?

  11. I did my steak this way after seeing it in the NYT. Was fabulous, I was hesitant to flip every 30 seconds but it worked. Did get a little smoky though.

  12. This method is how I learned to make steak from my Mom. Yes, you do need some ventilation (don’t ask me how I know :-D), yet it yields the best steak or chop, outside of a wood-fired grill.

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