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Category: Food

Gas Is For Sissy’s: Steak Done Right

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Episode 1: The Manly Cooking Series
(Episode 2: Cook Like A Man With A Cast Iron Pan)

Most guys think they cook a good steak.   Some do, but very few know how to grill a great steak.

My brother in law Mike Curry knows how to cook a great steak.   Last night, Mike brought his grilling to food god level when he passed gas in favor of charcoal.

Here are some of Mike’s tricks and tips along with a few of my own.

Warning:  if you like your steak cooked past medium-rare, you don’t need to read any further.  None of these tips will make a difference.   Just douse it with lot’s of sauce and dig in.

Mike and Kevin’s Tips:

1.  A good cut of meat, evenly marbled with fat and  preferably near a bone.  Just say yes to Porterhouse, T-Bone, Tenderloin and the Ribeye.

2.  Bring the meat to room temperature before you grill.  This prevents the steak from getting over-cooked.  The middle stays rare but also get’s warm so you don’t end up with the cold-blooded mess that scares many away from the pleasure of rareness.

3.  Charcoal. Gas is for sissies.   Charcoal produces better flavor because it gets hotter than gas to sear in the juices.  Smokey flavor is created from the drippings hitting the charcoal.  Use a charcoal chimney starter and do not use lighter fluid or gas. Your nose-buds will be ruined for the evening with hints of jet fuel and paint thinner lingering into the night.

4.  Classic Weber dome grill.  These are the best barbecues because the Weber’s deep shape prevents flare-ups.  The ceramic material keeps things hot and distributes the heat evenly.  Other griller’s have done blind taste tests comparing Weber grills against others with noticeable results.

5.  Once your steak is done, take it off the grill and quickly wrap it with aluminum foil.  Let the steak rest for at least 5 minutes.  During cooking proteins push moisture towards the cooler center.  In resting  moisture is re-distributed more evenly as it cools down.   If you don’t believe me, do an a/b test — cut one piece immediately and let another one rest — you will see and taste the difference

6.  Mesquite chips soaked in water and thrown on the coals.  Mike did this perfectly last night cooking one of most aromatic steaks ever created.

7.  Add salt and pepper to taste after cooking.  A good steak doesn’t need any other seasonings and salt tends to dry things out while cooking.

8.   No paper plates.  Use regular plates even for a casual barbecue.  Eating steak on a paper or styrofoam plate is embarrassing for you and your guests (ok really it isn’t the end of the world)  but you do end up getting paper pulp and bits of the plate in your food.

9.  Splurge and get a good set of steak knives.  Simple, sharp and with enough weight to attack like a Man’s man.  I highly recommend Laguiole Olive Wood Steak Knifes handcrafted in France.   They are perfectly balanced and should be a required selection on every non-vegan wedding registry.

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9.  Pair with a good mellow Bordeaux.  Cabernets and Syrah’s stand out too much and scream for attention.   The understated Bordeaux can be found for about the half the cost of the single-varietal fruit-bomb coming out of California and Washington.  The most revered wine in Sideways was a Bordeaux that Miles (Paul Giamatti) drinks in a paper cup.

So there you go, I know this is snob foodery (say like Tomfoolery), but if you are going to cook a steak, man-up and pass the gas.

Recipe Remix: Japanese Goma-ae Beans

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Ingen no Goma-ae (green beans in sesame sauce) are a refreshing and healthy side-dish for any asian-food meal, summer barbecue, or bento/picnic lunch.  They can be made ahead of time, served chilled, and are savory option for a plant-based diet.  Green beans have a long growing season and locally-grown beans are abundant in many places.

My re-mixed recipe is slightly different than others I have seen on the web in the following ways:

1. No Miso paste.  Some but not all recipes call for this.  I like Miso but I think it can overwhelm the flavor of fresh green beans.

2.  Slightly under-cook the beans: blanch quickly for 2 minutes, and then run under cold water. This keeps them crispy, especially for a overnight marinade.

3.  Marinade in the cooler for 24-48 hours in advance, the beans really absorb the flavor the longer they sit in the sauce.  Preparing food in advance is also one less thing to worry about if you have a meal with several dishes.

4.  Cook the sesame seeds on medium high and almost burn them.  Most recipe’s call for a slow cook on low heat, I think slightly over-cooked sesame seeds give a subtle smokey taste.

5.  I use Dashi (bonito fish broth), but have skipped this when my sister/brother-in law were on a strict-plant based diet.  It is also hard to find Dashi that doesn’t contain MSG.  The Dashi makes the beans taste better, but it is also fine without the fish broth — it’s really the sesame & sugar that makes this dish pop.

Here is the recipe remix (italics and strike-thru used to indicate changes) of Bento.com’s Green Beans in Sesame Dressing:

Ingredients:

  • 175g (6 oz.) frozen fresh whole green beans
  • a pinch of salt

For the dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (if you buy them pre-toasted, re-toast anyway. i prefer the white sesame seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar *
  • 2/3 tablespoon dashi stock **
  • 1/2 tablespoon miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

To toast the seeds for this recipe, simply put them in a frying pan on medium high without oil then heat while stirring until the seeds have puffed up and you can smell the distinctive aroma of sesame.

Directions

1. Boil the beans in a pan of water for2 minutes or until tender.  Run under cold water until cool.

2. Finely grind the sesame seeds in a pestle and mortar or in a coffee grinder. Add the sugar, dashi, miso paste and soy sauce and mix together well.

3. Toss the green beans in the sesame dressing and serve as a side dish.

4.  Let marinade in cooler for 24-48 hours