A Word on Steaks

The secret to a good steak is…

Well, for me it’s salt and a good sear. Cooking it on high heat to caramelize the outside, leaving the inside mostly pink will leave you with a juicer piece of meat that has the most flavor. Top it with a nice chimichurri sauce, green peppercorn sauce, salsa–verde or rojo, whatever makes sense for what you’re serving it with to round it out. The cut of the steak you choose also depends on what you’re serving it with, a t-bone goes well largely on it’s own with a generous rub of salt and a quick sear on either side leaving the inside mostly pink served with roasted potatoes and a green salad. A flank steak can also be cooked with a quick sear, but is typically marinated for a few hours before cooking to breakdown some of the tougher muscle fibers. A flank steak requires you cut against the grain, again to break up the long fibers that add to the flavor, but make it more enjoyable to eat when cut this way, serve it with tortillas, salsa verde, and homemade creme fraiche.

The other question is to grill or not to grill? I say it depends on the weather and where you live. Searing steak in a pan on the stove top is very smokey, so take that into account if you take that route. Because steak is typically cooked quickly, a gas grill works great, but of course there are those that consider a gas grill an abomination, so your cooking method is up to you. If you are able to grill, you can smoke the steak while you cook it, even with a gas grill. In that case put some wood chips or pellets in some foil and once you get them smoking and your grill is nice and hot pop those babies on there and smoke while you sear.

If you use the stove top, I recommend a cast iron skillet and a splatter screen for easier clean up. Put a little oil in the pan, turn the burner on high and wait for the oil to just start to smoke, then put your salted steaks in. Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, let them rest for 5-10 minutes before enjoying. The time variation is part of an other option, cooking your steaks directly from the freezer. According to America’s Test Kitchen (via FoodRepublic.com), you don’t need to thaw your steaks before cooking them. I’ve been experimenting with this and I have to say I agree, but stick to the 5 minutes per side if you go that route.

Tonight at our house we’re having seared t-bones with spiced basmati rice and oven roasted brussel sprouts, doesn’t get much better than that.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

ingredients

  • 2# cleaned and halved brussel sprouts
  • 1/2 c toasted walnuts or pecans
  • 3T oil, lard, butter or a combination
  • salt and pepper TT

method

  1. preheat oven to to 450 degrees F
  2. toss sprouts with other ingredients
  3. put parchment or a silpat on a baking sheet (with sides)
  4. spread sprouts in a single layer, roast until sprouts are turning nut brown, but not mushy–10-15 minutes (Time variations depend on your oven and how often you’re opening the oven door. You may find it takes longer to get the results you want. You’re the one eating it, so adjust the time to suit your taste.)

Spiced Basmati Rice

ingredients

  • 2 c rinsed and drained basmati rice
  • 1T oil
  • 1 minced shallot
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 1/2 c water or chicken stock (veg stock works great too)
  • 2 tsp salt (if using salted stock omit)

method

  1. saute shallots in oil until just beginning to brown in a sauce pot with a tight fitting lid
  2. add spices, continuing to saute until fragrant
  3. stir in rice cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently
  4. pour water or stock into pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover
  5. cook 20 minutes–do not remove the lid!
  6. remove the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf before serving

Pan Seared T-Bones

ingredients

  • enough frozen t-bones to feed your group (we eat 2-3 steaks for dinner for our family of 5)
  • salt TT
  • oil

method

  1. heat a cast iron skillet over high heat for 3 minutes
  2. rub steaks with a generous amount of salt
  3. add oil to the skillet, once it just starts to smoke, add the steaks
  4. cook 5 minutes on each side–don’t turn it before 5 minutes is up, you want nice caramelized meat
  5. remove from heat, let rest 5-10 minutes before devouring
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