Monday, September 5, 2011

A Big Dutch Oven Steak and Crab Feast

I wanted to do something really, amazingly, phenomenally over-the-top special for our anniversary this year.  It marked 24 years that she hasn’t kicked my sorry butt out on the curb.  That’s cause for celebrations.

I’d seen some videos on how to pan fry steak, and I was really interested in that.  I started to form an idea in my mind about doing the pan fry on steaks with a spice rub.  I figured I would steam some corn on cob, too.  Then, I started thinking, and I figured I could do some of those garlic sliced, sesame seed baked potatoes.  To top it all off, we had some crab’s legs in the freezer, so that would make it great, too!

My wife loves T-bone steaks, so I shopped around, looking for some good, thick, porterhouses.  I did find some, but they weren’t really as thick as I like.

The challenge for me was to cook it all in a limited time frame.  I would be coming home from work by about five, and I would want to have it done when it was still light out.  That only gave me a 2-3 hour window to cook an serve the whole meal.

In my planning, I started out by figuring out how the ovens would work.  I would do the corn and the crab together in the 12” deep dutch oven, and the potatoes and the steaks each in their own 12” shallow dutch oven.  When planning the time, I started from the end, and went through the steps of each dish in my mind, to see when I’d have to start each one.

Dutch Oven Pan-Fry T-Bone Steaks

12” dutch oven
26-30 coals below (pack ‘em in!)

  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp crushed coriander
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp thyme
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp oregano

  • 2-3 T-bone steaks
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • A little olive oil

  • 1 Cup Cranberry/grape juice (100% juice) at room temperature
  • 1-2 tablespoons flour dissolved in water.

The Potatoes

12” Dutch oven

8-10 coals below
16-18 coals above

  • 4-5 medium to large potatoes
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • sesame seeds

Steamed Crab and Corn on the Cob

12” deep dutch oven

~20 coals below

  • 3-4 cobs of corn, chucked, broken in half
  • 2-3 racks of crab’s legs
  • 3-4 cups Water
  • ½ cup lemon juice

Butter Dip/spread for the Crab/Corn

8” dutch oven

10-12 coals below

  • 2 cubes butter
  • extra spice rub

I started out with the thawed steaks.  Actually, I never froze them.  I brought them home a day or so before and put them straight into the fridge.  I mixed up the spices in a zip-top baggie, and then added each steak, one at a time.  I shook the spices all over the steak, and then shook off the excess when I pulled it out.  I did the same with the other two steaks.  By the way, this is the same spice mix that I used for my blackened salmon many years ago.

I set the steaks aside in the fridge, covered in plastic.  It would be about another hour before they’d be cooked.  That gave the flavorings plenty of time to set into the meat.

Then, I started on the potatoes.  Step one was to peel the garlic and slice it into thin slivers.  Then I took the potatoes, and I washed and rinsed them  I cut them almost all the way through in narrow strips, so that it could fan open a little bit.  Then, in every other slice or so, I inserted a sliver of garlic,  I alternated between the middle and the right and left sides, so that it would separate in different and unique ways.  Really, it’s tough to describe this process.  It’s better to look at the picture.  As each potato was sliced and garlic’ed, I put it in the dutch oven.

Once all the potatoes were prepped, I drizzled each one with a bit of olive oil, then sprinkled over them with kosher salt and sesame seeds.  It really makes for an impressive display.  I put that on the coals to bake.

Next to go was the corn and the crab.  I chucked, cleaned, and broke the cobs, and put them on one of those butterfly-ing steamers in the 12” deep dutch oven.  I added the crab on top.  I poured in enough water to reach the bottom of the steamer, and poured in the lemon juice.  I put the lid on, and put it on the coals.

The last step was the steaks.

I began by putting the 12” dutch oven, with just a little oil, on a lot of coals.  I wanted this thing to be seriously hot.  Have lots of coals on the side handy, too, because keeping it hot with the steaks on will also be a challenge.

After heating the dutch oven pan up for a while, I put the steaks on.  The aroma and the sizzle was almost unbearably good.  At first, I kept the lid off.  In retrospect, I would keep the lid on, however, because it took a long time to get the meat up to temperature.  After 6-7 minutes, I flipped the steaks over, and at that point, stuck in the thermometer.  Like I said, it took a while to get them up to even rare, so I ended up putting the lid on, without coals.

When it read just a little under 140, I pulled them off, and put them on a plate, tented under aluminum foil.  Always let meat rest before serving.  By the time we were dining, it came up to a nice medium done-ness.

In the meantime, I poured the cranberry juice into the same dutch oven that the steaks had been in.  While it sizzled, I used a wooden flipper to scrape up all the fond, the bits of cooked steak and carmelized stuff on the bottom.  I had pulled the juice from the fridge, so I think it took a little longer to boil and to start reducing.  I added the flour/water mix a little bit at a time to thicken it up.

While I was doing that, I put the butter and some of the remaining spice mix into the 8” dutch oven over coals to melt and blend.

Finally, it was all done.  We brought it all in, and served it up.  The pan sauce, of course, spread on the steak. It gave sweetness and tang, and blended well with the seasonings and the flavor of the meat. The seasoned butter was spread on the corn as well as used to dip the crab meat.  It was a major, four-star feast!


Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

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