Thursday, January 27, 2011

Meat & Potatoes

A couple days ago, Elizabeth said to me: "You know what I really would like for dinner this week? Steak. A really good steak."

This works out perfectly, I thought to myself. Taco Bell is launching its "Quad Steak Burrito" on Thursday, I could kill two birds with one stone: write about a new fast food product and satisfy Elizabeth's needs for a really good steak.

Then I started to see a flaw in my logic. Several flaws, actually.

I thought about it some more. Just the other day Elizabeth let me watch six straight hours of football and Huell Howser. I guess I could get her a better steak than Taco Bell. So I picked up a USDA Prime ribeye steak. (It was about ten times the cost of a Quad Steak Burrito and approximately one hundred times better tasting.)

While I let the steak sit out to warm up, I sliced a couple potatoes into wedges and roasted them in the oven with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika. I took them out when they were almost ready (40 minutes) and set them aside to cool down.

I let the indoor grill heat up for a long time. I cracked salt and pepper on the ribeye, put a pat of butter on top and placed the meat on the grill. As usual I admired the sound for a minute. The meat cooked for about seven minutes on one side, I flipped it for another seven, removed it, covered it with foil, and let it rest.

I imagine everyone who has cooked steak has heard the advice to let it rest for five minutes after removing it from the heat. With a thick (this was just under two inches), pricey cut of steak, this is even more crucial. In my opinion, nothing ruins a steak more than overcooking it. If I overcook a ground chuck burger topped with cheese, I'm not going to care very much. But a buttery, prime cut from the center of the cow? I definitely don't want to cook the flavor out of that.

(I did not always feel so passionate about this; then I read Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential and learned about the lousy cuts of meat that some chefs cram in the back of the fridge, marked "save for well-done" to serve to the "rube who prefers to eat his meat or fish incinerated into a flavorless, leathery hunk of carbon." I thought back to a steak I ordered well-done in Reading, Pennsylvania when I was 19 and how sick I got that night. I've never ordered anything well-done again.)

The whole time the steak was cooking, I had potato wedges on the grill, getting them warmed up again with barely-visible grill marks and a slight crisp to the exterior. When they were ready I quickly sauteed some spinach with a little olive oil and salt and pepper in the wok. I plated all three and took a few pictures, which showed remarkable restraint on my part - I couldn't wait to eat these.

Everything was delicious: the steak was melt-on-the-tongue good. I put some "garlic aioli mustard sauce" in a dish next to steak sauce. The former was great with the potatoes; the latter was completely unnecessary for the steak. It did not need any condiment.

I haven't had the Taco Bell burrito yet, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that it won't be as good as this dinner.

10 comments:

Emily said...

That looks absolutely amazing. Yum.

I'm also very much liking your new little photo montage. Looks good!

JustinM said...

Thanks, Emily. The old picture had been there for 8 months - it was a wine tasting trip we took last May to the Central Coast, so I decided to change it up a little. Just some of my favorite things from the last couple years.

Michelle said...

What are those mugs in the collage?

JustinM said...

McSorley's Old Ale House, NYC

Mindful Mule said...

Yum, indeed. Keeping it simple. And nice prezentation.

Nosh Gnostic said...

Man, those steaks look AMAZING!!!

Anonymous said...

PP- what do you use for an indoor grill?

JustinM said...

The DeLonghi Healthy Indoor Grill.

It's handy for cooking inside, but to be honest, if I had to downsize my kitchen appliances, it would be the first thing to go, long before the Cuisinart, panini press, toaster oven, or Black & Decker Pizza Hydrator.

Fritos and Foie Gras said...

The new photo header really looks great, as does that steak! And i never put a whole bunch of thought into how much I spent on meat, but I really see your point. I may need to do a little blind meat taste test soon...

JustinM said...

Thanks, Fritos. The most fun part was going through the thousands of photographs and choosing twenty to use.