I have been very happy with my “hot off the grill” technique for steaks. There’s something very primal and satisfying about cutting into a still sizzling steak. The only thing that could make it better? Butter, of course!
In a small saucepan, melt half the butter over medium-low heat. Add anchovies and simmer until they melt into the butter, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the herbs, Worcestershire, paprika, salt, and pepper.
Remove from heat and let cool until mostly solid. Add the remaining butter and whisk to combine. Spoon mixture onto a large ramekin, cover with a sheet of waxed paper, and refrigerate until you are ready to use it.
Season the ribeyes with a heavy coating of sea salt (2 to 3 teaspoons per side) and a few grinds of black pepper blend. Stash uncovered in the fridge while you get your grill set up for a direct cook at a sub-nuclear 700°F.
Sear steaks for 60 seconds, then rotate the 90 degrees and give them another 30 seconds on that side. Flip and repeat the process on the other side. After both sides have been seared, keeping flipping them every minute or so while checking for doneness. These steaks only took another 2 minutes of flipping to hit a nice medium-rare 125°F internal.
Move the steaks straight off the grill and onto your plates, pausing ever so briefly to spoon a dollop of steak butter onto them.
I was expecting the butter to be a umami bomb – rich and savory, but I was pleasantly surprised that the herbs gave it a much brighter taste. Between the anchovy and the herbs it had a fresh, almost briny, flavor to it that really woke up the steak.
I am a big fan of Meathead (Craig Goldwyn) and his Amazing Ribs website. Meathead has done a lot to shine the light of science into the dark and smoky den of live fire cooking. One of his latest myth-busting posts concerns the need to let meat rest after cooking.
I won’t try to cover all of the excellent arguments Meathead makes against letting meat rest, but the one that struck me was his quote from Adam Perry Lang, “In the early crust stage (fresh off the grill), fat, collagen, and salt will cause a unique flood of saliva in your mouth. I refer to this type of crust stage as ‘alive and snappy’.”
When it comes to steaks, I have largely been a “cook-’em-hot-and-fast-then-let-’em-rest kind” of guy. To be honest, my reasoning has been based more on grilling folklore than on testing and experimentation. So while I’ve never had a steak that I thought had suffered in taste, texture, or juiciness from resting – I still thought it was worth giving the “hot off the grill” technique a try, particularly if it would give me that alive and snappy effect.
So, armed with little more than a pair of lovely 1 3/4-inch thick strip steaks, I set off on my experiment…
I seasoned the steaks with a heavy coating of sea salt (2 to 3 teaspoons per side) and a few grinds of a mixed pepper blend. I worked the seasoning into the meat with my hand and made sure to cover the edges too. I stashed the steaks back into the fridge while I got the Big Green Egg heated up to the just barely sub-nuclear temperature of 700°F.
I tossed the steaks on for 90 seconds of undisturbed searing. Then I rotated the steaks 90 degrees and gave them another 30 seconds on that side. I flipped the meat and repeated the process on the other side.
I was aiming for medium-rare, so after both sides had been seared I kept flipping them every minute or so while checking for doneness. After about another 2 minutes of flipping, they hit 125°F internal. I took the steaks straight off the grill and right onto our plates, so that when knife met steak the meat was still sizzling.
I have no idea how to describe the first bite – crispy, salty, hint of pepper, and this overwhelmingly good “hot” taste. Not spicy hot or burn-your-mouth hot, but tropical rainforest hot – this wave of heat and humidity that’s so thick that it carries its own cloud of flavors and aromas with it.
It’s like the difference between eating a perfectly tasty bite of meat from the center of a prime rib and eating a bite of the sizzling crust from the same roast – night and day. Both delicious, but in very different ways.
I really enjoyed the “alive and snappy” taste/feeling and it carried on through most of the meal, gradually decreasing as the steak cooled, but never really going away entirely. Yes, I did notice that the steak lost more juices to the plate than a rested steak would have, but not a lot more, and certainly not enough to make the steak noticeably less juicy. In fact, I found myself mopping up what juices there were with bites of meat, so that nothing was really lost in the end.
This is going to be my go-to technique from here on out – thanks, Meathead!
Another “mystery meat” package from my butcher. The handwriting on the butcher paper said “sirloin”, so I assumed it was a steak. It turned out to be a big ol’ sirloin roast – three small bones, multiple muscle groups, and a thin strip of connective tissue holding two nice cuts of meat together.
I trimmed the roast down to two steaks and decided to treat them to a mushroom baste.
Remove the steaks from the fridge and give them a good dusting with some ground sea salt and black pepper. Then set your grill up for a direct cook at slightly sub-nuclear temperature (about 600°F).
When the grill is getting up to temp, sauté the mushrooms. Combine the mushrooms, butter, and oil in a shallow baking pan (I use a 9×13 disposable foil pan) and heat it up right on the grill, stirring to combine everything as the butter melts. Sprinkle the mushrooms with salt and keep cooking until the mushrooms are tender and browned, about 5 minutes.
Add the Worcestershire and thyme and stir to combine. Let cook until the mixture starts to bubble, about another minute. Set the pan beside the grill to keep it warm.
Sear the steaks for 60 seconds on each side, then move them off into the mushroom baste. Flip them a couple of times to coat both sides with all that earthy and buttery joy, then put the steaks back on the grill for another 30 seconds on each side. Keep flipping every 30 seconds or so and start checking for doness – I like my steaks medium-rare, so 125°F internal. These steaks took just under 2 minutes per side total.
Move the steaks off into the mushroom baste and give them another flip. Let rest for 10 minutes, then move the steaks to a cutting board. Reserve the mushroom baste and keep the pan warm.
Trim off any fat or connective tissue from the steaks and then slice the meat on a diagonal into 1/4-inch slices. Put the sliced steak and any accumulated meat juices from the cutting board back into the mushroom mix. Give the pan a stir to coat the meat.
Move meat to a serving platter and serve topped with the mushrooms.
The Verdict: Sirloin is a very flavorful cut of meat, but it can be tough. I really like this grill and baste technique because it lets me build up that flavor while keeping the meat moist and tender.
If you trim it, sirloin steak is 5 points for 3 ounces of meat. The baste adds about 3 more points for the oil. Serve it with a salad and it’s all good.
I have not had a lot of luck cooking beef short ribs. I love the ones I get when eating out – beefy, rich, and fork-tender. I’ve managed to get mine smoky and tasty, but they were also usually tough and dry. Since our last quarter of beef included two packs of short ribs, once more unto the breach, dear friends…
1 pound bone-in beef short ribs
Kosher salt & fresh-ground black pepper
1/4 cup red wine
Set your smoker up for at least a 6 hour indirect cook at 250°F. On the Big Green Egg this means filling the firebox with lump charcoal and using an inverted plate setter to diffuse the heat and a drip pan with a little water in it to catch the fat.
Once the smoker is up to temp, toss in your smoking wood (I used pecan), Season the ribs lightly with salt and pepper, then arrange them bone side down on the grate. Close the lid and let the smoker do its magic for 4 to 5 hours, or until the ribs reach 160°F internal.
When the ribs are ready, arrange them on a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil, meat side down. Pull up the edges of the foil to make a little bowl and then pour the wine over the ribs. Wrap the ribs tightly in the foil, making sure to seal the edges.
Put the bundle of ribs back on the smoker, meat side down, and cook until the ribs reach 190°F internal (about an hour).
Remove the ribs from the foil and return them to the smoker bone side down. Cook for 30 minutes or so, until the meat has tightened up and pulled well away from the bones.
Remove ribs from the smoker and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Finally! No knives were needed to take apart these little blocks of beefy wonder. They practically melted. I was also glad I stuck with a real simple preparation and let the meat and the smoke come though.
3 ounces of rib meat is a whopping 11 points and 165 calories, so these are a rare treat.
I am one lucky guy – my dear wife will be taking me someplace warm and lovely for my birthday. When she told me that she’d made the reservations, I asked her what I could make her as a going-away treat. Without missing a beat, she said, “Steaks, big thick steaks.”
I seasoned up a pair of nice rib eye steaks with fresh-ground pepper and kosher salt and let them sit out at room temperature while I got the Big Green Egg up to a roaring 700°F.
When everything was nice and hot, I tossed the steaks on for 90 seconds of undisturbed searing. Then I rotated the steaks 90 degrees and gave them another 30 seconds on that side. I flipped the meat and repeated the process on the other side.
I shoot for medium-rare with steak. So after both sides had been seared I checked the internal temp. When it hit 125°F internal (about another 30 seconds), I moved them off the grill and onto a plate and let them rest for 10 minutes.
Stay warm, folks!
Since we’re headed to a place known for their tropical drinks, not their steaks, I needed these to be good – big band of tender, rosy-red meat with a great crunchy char on it. These were perfect.
If you trim it, steak is 5 points for 3 ounces of meat.
Prime Rib is on the menu for Yew Year’s Eve at our house and that gives me all the excuse I need to do some “test” cooks before the big day.
For me, a great rib roast is all about getting a heavily seasoned and crispy crust with as much juicy and tender medium-rare inside as possible. I’ve had really good results using a couple of different cooking techniques. The simplest is just roasting the meat at a steady 350°F (Deck Warming – Prime Rib & Yorkshire Pudding). The other was to sear the roast over a hot, direct fire, give it a rest, and then finish it over lower indirect heat (Ruhlman’s Twenty – Grill-Roasted Prime Rib).
So I was very interested when Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn of Amazing Ribs updated his beef roast recipe to use a reverse sear method. Hmmmm…
1 beef rib roast, boneless (I used a small 2.5 pound one for testing, but I plan on making about a pound per person for New Year’s)
1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt per pound of meat
1 teaspoon Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow Crust (or your favorite Montreal steak seasoning) per pound of meat
Set up for an indirect cook at 250°F. Slather the roast with your seasoning of choice mixed 50/50 with olive oil. Set a roasting rack on a rimmed sheet pan (something shallow, like a jellyroll pan). Set the roast in the rack and load everything into the oven/grill.
Roast until the internal temperature of the meat hits 115°F (using a remote thermometer helps immensely here). Remove the roast and let rest for 30 minutes while you get the oven up to 500°F or set the grill up for a high temperature direct cook.
Return the roast to the oven and cook for 10 minutes (or sear for about 2-3 minutes per side on the grill) until you get a nice crispy brown crust.
Remove roast from oven/grill and let rest 20 minutes before slicing and serving.
Overall Verdict: The roast ended up tasting great (love the Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow Crust) and being very juicy and tender, but the crust wasn’t very brown and crispy and there was too much of a gray ring of overcooked meat.
This recipe may work better on the grill, but while I like the idea of being able to have the roast essentially done in advance of dinner, and then just crisping it up at the end, I hate giving up that expanse of medium-rareness.
The Nutrition: Plan on lots of snow shoveling to burn this off.
I can’t tell you how much this book has changed the way I think about cooking.
I’m used to cook books that are nothing but recipes. Ruhlman’s Twenty has plenty of those, but they’re all wrapped around the 20 core cooking tools and techniques that Ruhlman has distilled from his years of being a chef and writing about food.
Before this book, to me an egg was just an ingredient. Now they are Technique #6, little oval kitchen workhorses – cooked gently they become a meal unto themselves, while egg whites leaven souffles by incorporating air, and egg yolks emulsify simple oil and acid into that amazing concoction we call mayonnaise.
Even the shallot (Technique #4) becomes a bit of a wonder in Ruhlman’s book. I always though of them as uppity onions, but mince them with some vinegar (Technique #5) and whirl them with some olive oil and you’ve got a quick vinaigrette (Technique #12) that works wonders when paired with cold veggies and beats anything that comes in a bottle.
Of course, being a grillmeister and all, I was most interested in his Technique #18, Grill: The Flavor of Fire. Having recently secured a very nice rib roast, I decided to try his grill/roast technique using a wet rub to season the roast.
1 4-6 pound rib roast
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon sea or kosher salt
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Allegro Marinade or Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
Make the wet rub by putting the garlic, salt and peppercorns into a food processor and pulse until the garlic is minced. Add the oil, vinegar, Allegro, rosemary, thyme and paprika and give them a whirl to combine.
You’ll need a flame-proof roasting pan (I use an old 9×13 baking pan) with a rack. Put the roast on a cutting board with the deckle (fat cap) on top. Score the fat by making shallow diagonal cuts in a diamond pattern at about 1-inch intervals. Pour half of the wet rub over the roast and work it into the cuts. Turn the roast over and cover the bottom and sides of the roast with the remaining rub. Set aside and let rest while you set up the grill.
The heart of Ruhlman’s grill/roast technique is to sear the meat over a hot, direct fire, give it a rest, and then finish it over lower, even heat. The sear gets you that crispy, tasty crust. The resting time stops the heat from pushing too deeply into the meat, giving you an evenly-cooked roast with more lovely medium-well meat and less gray, over-cooked meat. It also lets you control when you serve the meat. Once the searing is done, you can finish it right away on the grill (or in the oven, if you must), or stash it in the fridge for up to a day before finishing it right before serving.
For the sear, set your grill up for a direct cook over high heat (500°F). Get the cooking grate is nice and hot and sear the roast for 90 seconds on each side. When the roast is browned all over, move it to the rack (fat side up) set in the roasting pan.
If you are finishing it later, move the roast to the fridge until it is cool and then wrap with plastic wrap. If you’re serving it right away, tent loosely with aluminum foil and set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes while you get the grill down to the roasting temperature.
Close the lid on the grill and adjust the vents to reduce the heat to 300°F. On the Big Green Egg, I shut the vents almost all the way down and added an inverted (legs up) plate setter to diffuse the heat. You could also use a flame-proof pizza stone, sheet pan, or trivet to give you indirect heat.
When the grill is down to roasting temps, put the roaster loaded with the meat back onto the grill. Add about a cup of water to the roasting pan to keep the juices from burning. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes per pound, or until it hits 130°F internal.
Move the roast to a cutting board and let rest for 20 minutes before carving and serving.
I made this for my dear mother’s 82nd birthday dinner and everyone loved it. The roast had a nice, wide band of tender, rosy-red meat with a great crunchy char on it. Slicing the deckle let the bits of fat fry themselves into a kind of beefy bacon. Perfect.
As for Ruhlman’s Twenty, I find myself reaching for this more than any of my other cook books. I’m not always making recipes from the book, but I am always leveraging his techniques.
When you get to be 82, you get to quit counting calories.
After discovering that the nice, thick t-bone destined for dinner was still mostly frozen at 2 hours out, I decided to try cooking it sous vide. Sous vide (a.k.a. hot tubbing) is a cooking technique that I don’t use nearly as often as I should. The food is vacuum sealed in a plastic bag, put into a water bath, and then held at an almost-done temperature for as long as you can stand it before finishing it on the grill.
The compromise at our house on when a steak is “done” is on the medium side of medium-rare, ideally coming off the grill at 130°F internal and reaching 135°F by the time it hits the table. The joy of sous vide is that by holding the meat at 120°F, all the grillmeister has to do is put a sear on it to get a nice, wide band of meat done the way you like it without much of a ring of gray meat around it.
So, I sealed the unseasoned steak in a FoodSaver bag and floated it in an old beer cooler that I had filled with 120°F water. After 15 minutes, the water had dropped to 115°F, so I added more hot water to bring the temp up to 120°F again and closed the lid. After and hour the temp had dropped to 110°F, so I added more hot water to bring it back up to 120°F and went off the get the grill ready.
I set the Big Green Egg up for a direct cook at sub-nuclear temp, about 700°F. When the grill was ready, I removed the steak from the bag, seasoned it heavily with some ground sea salt and black pepper, and slapped it on the pre-heated cooking grate.
I seared the steak for 60 seconds on each side, then turned it 90° (to get those fancy, cross-hatched grill marks) and grilled it for another 60 seconds on each side. I checked the temp and found that while the ribeye side was done, the strip side wasn’t there yet. So I grabbed the steak with the tongs, turned it sideways to the strip side was down, and grilled it for another 30 seconds. Then I moved it off the heat to rest for 10 minutes.
Big band of tender, rosy-red meat with a great crunchy char on it. Perfect. Both the ribeye and the strip seems to have picked up a bit stronger mineral/beefy taste than normal. Might be from the enzyme voodoo that’s supposed to happen when you hold warm food in a vacuum.
If you trim it, t-bone steak is 5 points for 3 ounces of meat.
With the heat we’ve had lately, any excuse not to fire up the stove is a good one. I found these two t-bones lurking in the bottom of our freezer and decided to grill them both up so that we could have plenty of leftovers for steak salad.
My dear wife made a big batch of giardiniera (pickled veggie salad) well in advance so that it was nice and cool and all the flavors had drawn through. It can be ready to eat in 25 minutes, but making it a day ahead (and making enough to snack on through the week) is the way to go.
Giardiniera adapted from Eating Well
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 small head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into bite-size florets
2 cups green beans
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, bay leaf, and 1 teaspoon each crushed red pepper and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil.
Add the veggies and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the cooking liquid, then drain.
Transfer the vegetables to a medium bowl. Stir in oil, pepper, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon each crushed red pepper and salt and the reserved cooking liquid. Refrigerate for at least 25 minutes to chill. Stir and serve with a slotted spoon.
Butter Basted Steaks
2 t-bone steaks
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Remove the steaks from the fridge and give them a good dusting with some ground sea salt and black pepper. Then set your grill up for a direct cook at slightly sub-nuclear temperature (about 600°F).
While the grill is getting up to temp, make the butter baste. Combine the butter, oil, thyme, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a shallow baking pan (I use a 9×13 disposable foil pan) and heat it up right on the grill, stirring to combine everything as the butter melts. Then set the pan beside the grill to keep it warm.
Sear the steaks for 60 seconds on each side, then move them off into the butter sauce. Flip them a couple of times to coat both sides with all that herby/buttery wonderfulness, then back on the grill for another 30 seconds on each side. Keep flipping every 30 seconds or so and start checking for doness – I like my steaks medium-rare, so 125°F internal. These steaks took just over 2 minutes per side total.
Move the steaks off into the butter sauce and give them another flip. Let rest for 10 minutes, then move the steaks to a cutting board. Reserve the butter mix and keep the pan warm.
Trim off any fat or connective tissue from the steaks and then slice the meat on a diagonal into 1/4-inch slices. Put the sliced steak and any accumulated meat juices from the cutting board back into butter mix. Give the pan a shake to coat the meat.
The t-bones were mostly ribeye, so the meat was rich and tender. I got a nice char on them, and I love that contrast between the crisp, almost bitter outside and the smooth and meaty inside. The butter baste is the icing on the steak. You could live without it, but it does add lots of juiciness and more layers of flavor.
The giardiniera was a great accompanying dish with plenty of bite and a little heat. Feel free to double the recipe and use whatever veggies are fresh. This dish also makes a great appetizer, or bump up the olive oil and add some cheese and salami and you’ve got a light antipasto lunch.
If you trim it, t-bone steak is 5 points for 3 ounces of meat. The baste and the giardiniera adds about 3 more points for the oil. Go heavy on the veggies and it’s all good.