Charred Onion Salad & Sirloin Steak

The best meal we’ve had this Summer.

Charred Onion Salad (from Taming the Flame by Elizabeth Karmel by way of Serious Eats)

Salt-Roasted Ribeye

This salt roasting recipe combines the best of several cooking techniques – steaming, roasting and (of course) grilling. It’s a bit of work, but because the food essentially cooks in its own juices, the moist and flavorful results are certainly worth the effort.

  • 6 cups  kosher sea salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 fingerling potatoes, or a dozen baby red or yellow potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 USDA Choice or Prime ribeye steaks, at least an inch and a half thick

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Sizzlin’ Steaks

The Meat

Pick USDA Choice or Prime beef. These top 2 grades will have enough marbling (thin streaks of fat in the muscle) to give you a tender, juicy, flavorful steak.

Know your cuts and what you like.  Filet mignon will be oh-so-tender, but not necessarily very flavorful. Rib-eyes have excellent flavor, but can be very rich.  Strip steaks have good flavor, but are tougher. Sirloin is tasty, but lean and can get dry. T-bones and porterhouses offer a compromise by combining the strip and the filet.

Once you pick a cut, get a nice one. Go to a butcher and have them cut your steaks right off the primal. Get them at least an inch and a half thick. Look them over. You want a nice, red, compact steak with a minimum of excess fat.

Even good meat can use a little enhancement. Give the steaks a light coating of olive oil, a splash of red wine vinegar, and a dusting of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Stash these in the fridge for at least 3 hours, overnight is best.

The Cook

Take the steaks out at least an hour before you start grilling. The cook is going to happen very fast, and you want them very close to room temp so you’re not fighting a cold center.

Grilling is nothing but inverted broiling, so you want your grill HOT. We’re talking a minimum of 600°F, but the hotter the better. A loaded kettle grill can reach 700°.  Some of the infrared burners on the gassers go to 1200°. The Big Green Egg will hit 1500° with all the vents open. Once it’s hot, get the grate clean. You want nice sear marks, not a lot of sticking.

Do a final prep before putting the steaks on. Dust them again with a little more kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Shape them with your hand so that they are as tight, high, and compact as possible. You don’t want any loose bits to burn off.

Put the steaks on the grill using tongs or a spatula (no forks allowed). Put the steaks over the hottest part of the grill and close the lid. Give them 60 seconds of undisturbed searing. After a minute, flip them over. If they won’t come away from the grill easily. give them another 30 seconds. Once flipped, close the lid and give them another 60 seconds of undisturbed searing.

Now open the lip and leave it open for the rest of the cook.  Flip them again – yes this violates most “perfect steak” rules. But flipping the steaks often minimizes flareup and maximizes the amount of steak that’s done the way you like it. Keep flipping the steaks once a  minute until they are done.

When is it done? Press on the center of the steak or use an instant-read thermometer to determine doneness:

  • Rare is 125°F, warm bright red center, feels soft like a sponge
  • Medium-rare is 135°F, mostly pink with a hint of red center, yields easily to a little pressure
  • Medium is 145°F,  has a large pink center, yields only slightly
  • Medium-well is 155°F internal, has a hint of pink, and feels firm
  • Well is anything over 160°F, the meat is solid brown with no give

Most steaks are at their best at medium-rare, but will be tasty anywhere from rare to medium. Leaner steaks will start to suffer at medium-well. When in doubt, err on the side of under cooked. You can always put a steak back on the grill if it’s too rare but,  you can’t uncook a well-done steak.

When they are done to your liking, put the steaks on a warm plate and cover them gently with another one, and let them rest. Meat is muscle and muscles contract when cooked. If you want tender steaks you need to allow time for the muscle to relax and the juices to redistribute.  Let them sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Summertime Burgers & Corn

It’s Summertime and that means hamburgers and fresh sweet corn hot off the grill. This recipe takes preparation and a little coordination to get everything on and off the grill at the right time, but the results are well worth it.

Double Double Cheese Bacon Onion Burgers with Southwestern Sweet Corn

For the burgers:

  • 1lb ground beef (preferably chuck), divided into 4 thin patties
  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 sweet onion, sliced into rings
  • 1/2 oz bleu cheese crumbles
  • 2 slices colby-jack or cheddar cheese
  • 2 buns, sliced and buttered

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Surf & Turf

Surf & Turf

I’ve been in the mood for surf and turf, so when my dear wife picked up some nice beef filets and some truly exceptional sea scallops, I was more than happy to throw them on the grill. The only question was how to prepare them?

For the scallops, I decided that simple is best and just dusted them with a little Penzeys Northwoods Fire and grilled them directly on skewers at 400°F for just under 2 minutes per side. Perfect.

But for the steak, I went a little more exotic with chimichurri – the tangy, herb-based Argentinian sauce. Here it’s used as both a marinade and a sauce. Continue reading “Surf & Turf”

Flat Iron Steaks

Flat iron steak is a relatively new cut of meat. It comes from the top shoulder of the chuck. It usually ends up as ground beef, but if the butcher fillets out the nasty strip of connective tissue, you end up with two decent hunks for beef that are as tender as tenderloin and as flavorful as a strip steak. Continue reading “Flat Iron Steaks”

It’s Grilling Season!

While it’s true that northern winters have not stopped us from grilling pretty much year-round, there does come point in the Spring where all of a sudden the air is warm and the sun is high. A day where standing around tending a grill stops being a chore and starts being a joy.

For me, that day was yesterday.

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Beef Ribs

Beef Ribs

As much as I love pork ribs, sometimes it’s nice to switch things up. These beef ribs came from the back of a prime rib roast. They look a lot like huge spareribs, hence the nickname “dino ribs.”

I coated the rack with a little balsamic vinaigrette, dusted it with a Texas-style beef rib rub, and left them to marinate overnight in the fridge.
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Beef Tri-Tip


Tri-tip is a very fine cut of beef that all too often ends up as stew meat or hamburger. Too bad, because it’s one cheap, tasty hunk of meat that takes well to grilling. The muscle is triangular in shape (hence, tri-tip), weighs in at between 1-1/2 and 2-1/2 pounds, and comes from the bottom of the sirloin. It has great flavor while still being pretty lean.

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