Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


It was a cranberry sorbet
The kind you find at the grocery store
- Prince Blintz

This Saturday evening past, I had planned to grill a few thick ribeye steaks.

I love a good thick steak - who doesn’t? - and I have learned, over the years, that the simplest treatment is the best. A sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper a couple of hours prior to grilling is pretty much all you need. The salt penetrates the meat and helps to make it even more tender and delectable than it already is.

The big problem with really thick steaks is getting them to cook to a nice medium-rare (or medium to medium-well, as the Missus prefers) while at the same time building a flavorful crusty char on the outside... and without creating a band of overcooked meat just beneath that crust. You can butterfly the steaks, but then you end up with two thin steaks in lieu of one honkin’ thick one. What I ended up doing was to stick the steaks in a 275°F oven for 25 minutes before throwing them on the grill to finish them off. (I could also have finished them on a hot skillet, but that would have greasified Darth Stover more than I cared to deal with.)

They came out perfect. Absolutely perfect, with a nicely carbonized crust... and beautifully cooked through. Credit where credit is due: I learned this technique from Cook’s Illustrated. Worth the price of the subscription, it was.

I normally don’t dress my beefsteaks up too much after grilling them. Steak sauce? Pfaugh. Worcestershire? That’s for marinating ’em before grilling, if you care to use it. Ketchup? Oy. But sometimes it’s nice to have something to decorate that yummy meat.

Béarnaise sauce - Hollandaise’s refined cousin - is too rich for my taste, although it lends a high tone to a slab of Châteaubriand. And creamy horseradish sauce is more appropriate for prime rib. (Yeah, I know it’s the same cut of meat - except prime rib is roasted before being sliced into steaks.) But what about a steak?

The Argentines have an answer: chimichurri sauce, the main ingredients of which are parsley, olive oil, and vinegar. And chimichurri is fine as far as it goes, but it put me in mind of a similar green sauce, the recipe for which appeared in Saveur magazine several years ago.

Green Steak Sauce

Saveur’s green sauce, intended to be served with a thick sirloin steak, is nothing so much as a chimichurri jacked up with anchovies, capers, and garlic. (You can also add preserved lemon to give it another layer of flavor.) I hadn’t made it in years, but after serving it with that delectable steak, I wondered why I had waited. It was a fine complement to the rich meat, having just the right acidity along with the springtime kick of the parsley.

To keep alla that Beef-Flesh company on the plate, She Who Must Be Obeyed put together an heirloom tomato and arugula salad and a pile of oven-roasted sweet potato slabs; I sautéed up some zucchini and squash with garlic and shallots, along with a goodly load of mushrooms with smoked paprika.

Zucchini and Squash

A 2007 Educated Guess cabernet sauvignon was a fine accompaniment. For dessert? Light Apricot-Noyau Ice Cream, garnished with homemade cranberry sorbet... the kind you won’t find at the grocery store.

Listen: If you’re going to stuff your face, it pays to do it right. Good ingredients properly prepared can trump most any restaurant meal... plus you don’t have to worry about driving home after guzzling that bottle of wine.


Fiona Kathleen Hogan said...

I tend to drool every time I read a food post of yours.... Just thought I ought to share that ;)

BobG said...

One of the better condiments I had with a large rare rib steak was a simple dipping sauce made from garlic, butter, and a bit of gorgonzola cheese. It was just right to complement the steak without masking it.