By Matt Ficke
Much as I enjoy cooking, it’s annoying to deal with the billowing clouds of smoke that always seem to result when I really crank the oven up. This is a particular problem when I cook steak, since I try for the sake of my roommates’ sanity to avoid setting the smoke detector off in the middle of the night (my preferred steak-consumption time, for some reason). I initially blamed this on my somewhat ill-conceived habit of using extra virgin olive oil for high-heat cooking, but it persisted even with other oils.
Enter avocado oil.
It turns out that avocado oil has a uniquely high smoke point among cooking oils, and as a result my kitchen has been largely smoke-free since I started using it. Apparently this has something to do with how “aromatic” the substance is, a property that my brother the chemical engineer explained has nothing to do with smelling pleasant, but I couldn’t really say. The point is, it’s a handy thing to have around when cooking with a super-hot oven.
A bottle of the stuff is a little pricey (I think it was eight or ten dollars for a smallish bottle), but it lasts a while since I only use it for this one specific purpose. And the label loudly boasts that it’s “made from the oil of 20 avocados!”, so on a per avocado basis it’s a steal.
My method, in brief: Set your oven as high as it will go (550 for mine) and put your pan in until it’s preheated. Remove it, set it over high heat on the range, and sear the oil-coated and salt-and-pepper-seasoned ribeye (or what have you) for 30 seconds on each side in the dry pan. Finish in the oven for 2 minutes on each side. N.B.: This works best with a relatively thick steak. And try not to burn yourself.