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Winter Steak

Garth Brown |

I've had a few requests for recipes. I haven't been posting them because of my limited ingredient list and the repetitiveness of my meals this limit imposes. It seems there is a real interest in precisely what and how I cook, so here is an easy one that will appeal to everyone except vegetarians. I'll continue to post an occasional recipe, but they'll be few and far between until summer/fall when I have more variety to play with.

I hope we can all agree that steak is most delicious off the grill. The perfect level of Maillard reaction is easy to achieve on a very hot, dry cooking surface that allows for good airflow. The smokiness adds to the over-all appeal too. Alas, it is February, and even I, warm-blooded creature that I am, decline to go fire up the grill when the high temp for the day is 0 F. But I like eating steak, even in winter. If serving four or fewer, I'm partial to the method I learned in the aptly titled book, Steak.

My favorite cut is a rib steak, though I've had some top sirloins from our steers that were just as good as the rib. The steaks in my photo above are from a cull cow we're eating this winter. We slaughtered her in December, which is not an ideal time in our climate. The lack of marbling evident in the picture is testament to this fact, not that marbling is the end-all, be-all of good beef, but with the genetics of our herd it is indicative of peak quality. The meat we sell comes from animals sent to slaughter in the summer and early fall. In those easy, warm months cattle naturally fatten on grass and produce high quality meat.

1. Get a good steak. The best are grass-fed, and so are the worst. Get one from somebody who raises good beef.

2. Put the thawed steak on a plate in the kitchen an hour or so prior to cooking. The goal is to get it near room temperature by the time you're ready to start cooking.

3. Pat the steak down with paper towels, or let it sit on them while waiting to come up to room temp. The goal is to get the surface dry before it goes into the frying pan.

4. Five or so minutes before frying, salt lightly. Go easy. It is better to add salt at the table than to have too much from the first bite on.

5. Put a heavy frying pan on a big burner over medium-low and heat it up.

6. Put the steak in the pan and watch it sizzle. Sometimes I need to loosen it from the pan after a few seconds of cooking, but it should not continue to stick. Even steaks with no visible marbling should be able to tolerate a medium low frying pan.

7. Cook it for a while then flip it over. The goal is to cook it only once on each side. The length of time per side will depend on the intital temperature of the steak, the weight of the pan, the heat of the stove, and the desired doneness of the eater.

8. Use a digital thermometer to measure the interior temp. I pull my steaks off the pan at about 120 degrees because they continue to cook even when removed from the heat and I like a fairly rare steak. Normandy likes hers more like 135 because she goes for medium-well.

9. The heat can be adjusted downward if the surface browns too much before it's done in the middle.

10. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy.


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