As the berries rot and the leaves spiral in the wind, there’s no denying it… Summer is giving way to fall. Sure, it’s still balmy every weekend (perhaps a St. Matrin’s Summer?) and I can still get from the door to the car without pants, but only just barely.
It is therefore essential to soak in as much of this gorgeous, late summer-corncobs ‘n beachfires- groaning as mom calls you in for dinner- sunshine as possible! One last big BBQ weekend!
I’m ‘gonna bring out those big-gun steaks we got from Gunter Bros, season those beasts well, grill ‘em fast and furious and then bang out a quick sauce to take it over the top. Heat ye coals, fill the flagons and gird thy loins; The Steakening is at hand!
Okay, I’ll dial the epic back for a quick caveat: Everyone loves a certain cut of beef best, and that particular gobbet may not be everyone else’s jam. So when I expound theatrically about the greatness of my favourite cut, it’s a totally subjective thing… And mainly for laughs. If you like T-Bones (spoiler alert: I don’t) that’s great! Fire ‘em on! The techniques in this recipe can be applied to a vast array of different steaks, and there’s plenty of room on my BBQ.
Now let’s dial the epic back up to eleven and continue!
For me, there can be only one steak to rule them all: The Entrecote (aka: Delmonico, Scotch Fillet, cowboy cut, bone-in rib, etc.) is the apex of red meat majesty! It’s basically a rib-eye steak with an adjoining section of rib left attached. A bone handle, perfect for lifting the steak in one hand (beer in the other) and more efficiently getting steak into your face.
Taken from the “rib” primal section of the cow, it’s not a hunk of cow that gets a lot of exercise. It is therefore streaked with little rivers of fat (the more, the better!) that melt into the surrounding meat when heated, increasing the moisture of the finished steak. At the same time, the meat has this great grainy texture and a distinctly meatier flavour than either the strip or sirloin. Don’t forget the little bits of sinew! They collect like a vortex of flavour in certain parts of the cut and make for a more varied and enjoyable chewing experience. It’s definitely my go-to steak for grilling and impressing friends ‘n family.
The steaks we purchased are between 350-400g (that’s around 12 ¼ – 16 oz.) and cut about one inch thick. Mmmmmm… Well marbled local bovine… *drools*
The first step is to get your steak to room temperature –30 minutes wrapped up on the counter should do the trick- to promote quick and even cooking. Season the beast liberally with salt, freshly cracked pepper and herb.
The herb in question is Summer Savory, a hardy little bush native to Eastern Europe that is probably most identifiable ‘round here dried as part of the French Herb de Provence spice blend. It’s pungent, and slightly peppery with a dry sharpness that makes me think of sun-baked wheat grass. Imagine thyme crossed with oregano and arugula and you’re in the ballpark.
It’s the quintessential meat seasoning! No other herb compliments all forms of red, fibrous meat as perfectly, not even rosemary. So yeah, lots of salt, pepper and herb rubbed well into all of the meat’s nooks ‘n crannies, and do it about ten minutes before you grill. The meat needs time to absorb all that flavour without drying out.
Because the meat is an inch thick, and we (like any right minded human beings) prefer our beef cooked medium rare this grill-session will be all about two things: High heat and speed.
To get that big, blast furnace heat you will need lots of coals cooked white, piled in a space large enough to place the entire steak overtop. Also, always have a little extra grate space next door without any heat under it to move your steaks to in case of flare-ups.
If you need a Rob Rainford-style measure of how hot your coals should be, think of it like this: Hold your hand a foot over the coals and see how long you can look cool. One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three-one… yeeeaaaaahhhhouch! That’s how hot you want it to be.
Grab a solid pair of long-handled, quick-release tongs and dab a bit of cloth or paper towel in vegetable oil. Coat the grate with the oil as quickly and thoroughly as possible. This is going to keep the steaks from sticking to the grate and leaving bits of your dinner fused to untouchable steel. Trust me; it makes a world of difference… especially when your friends are watching you flip ‘em over… Also, don’t lose the cloth between the grates or the BBQ Gods will curse thee mightily.
Boom! Slap those steaks onto the hot grill on a nice diagonal angle and listen to that most primal and satisfying of cooking noises. Phssssssssssssssst. Now, here’s the thing… From here on, it’s all about timing and patience. Do not touch that steak. Don’t poke it, or shift it around. Crack open another beer or sip on a nice big-assed red wine and enjoy yourself.
After about three minutes it’s time to grab the tongs and lift the steak up. Shift it 90˚ and put it right back down on that hot grill. This is going to give your steaks that sexy cross-hatched pattern all great steaks should have by sacred law. Leave it there another two minutes and flip it over.
Repeat the process for the other side and remember to give your steaks some time. Time enough for you to actually enjoy your weekend. Seriously, go talk with your friends, smoke a cigar, walk in the garden, or do what I do and just lounge in your grilling chair (thanks Lisa!) and stare at the late Summer sunlight glistening off the topmost leaves on the trees. Three minutes may seem like nothing, but when the air is this warm… It’s like Maui time.
Alright, take your steaks off of the grill and place them reverently on a plate, board or whatever you’ve got and for goodness sakes let them rest! At least ten minutes at room temperature… No cutting or eating. This period of inactivity will ensure that all the moisture in those tortured martyrs will reach equilibrium and re-distribute throughout the steak. This will ensure perfection in every bite. Trust me; you will ascend to grilling godhood after all the proper rites have been followed and you understand the Dao of resting.
The traditional king’s accompaniment for anything cut from a cow is pepper. That most passionate, exotic and luxurious of spices! Well, not anymore, but back in the day – Middle ages Europe being the perfect example – The daunting task of sailing across the planet, trudging through jungles, fighting off pirates and enslaving whole nations made the value of these spicy spheres astronomically high. This elevation of the peppercorn has continued through to the modern gastronomic era.
Back in the 70s there was a huge demand in North America for the new and relatively unheard of green peppercorn, mainly thanks to “nouvelle cuisine” mania.Hard to find and expensive, these under-ripe little briny-babies became the basis for many stew and sauces, the best of which has survived to the present day with most of its dignity intact.
I know it’s kitchy, but nothing beats a straight-up 70s-style green peppercorn sauce… Just without the brandy, ‘cause that’s just a bit too 70s.
You can either make this sauce before you fire up the grill and re-heat it for service, or you can be a boss and slap that pan right next to your steaks over medium heat and finish it while the meat is resting!
Green Peppercorn Sauce (Serves 2)
- 1 Tbls. (2g) Butter
- 1 Whole Medium-Sized Shallot (about 73g, finely diced)
- 2/3 cup Red Wine (approx. 160ml)
- ½ cup Beef Stock (approx. 120ml)
- 1 Tbls. Green Peppercorns (10g, drained of brine)
- 3 Fronds of Summer Savoury (stems removed)
- 1 Tbls. Cold Butter (cut into small cubes)
- Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat and sauté the shallots until soft and translucent (about 2 minutes). Pour in the wine and increase the heat slightly so it starts simmering right away. Keep that vino simmering for three minutes , or until it has Reduced by ½. Pour in the beef stock, peppercorns and savoury and bring back up to a simmer for a final two minutes.
- Remove the pan from heat and drop one piece of cold butter into it at a time, whisking constantly. This process is referred to in French as monter au beurre or “mounting with butter”. The idea is to emulsify the butter into the rest of the sauce slowly at low temperature so that it doesn’t melt too fast and separate. Once all of the butter cubes have been whisked in you should have a nice shiny luxuriously smooth sauce for your steak. Season with whatever salt is necessary and serve over top of that beautifully cooked piece of meat.
Music To Grill The Ultimate Steak To:
Monster Magnet – God Says No