Monday, October 20, 2014

The perfect steak redux!


For comments, please post below or email to cookingwithlarue@gmail.com
The perfect steak redux!
Difficulty: Easy
The Perfect Steak
I posted this a couple years ago, but wanted to redo it with better pics. The recipe is about the same, but this time the pics will make your mouth water!!

There are many ways to cook a steak but I have found this particular method perfect every single time and with spectacular flavor.  Trust me on this one and you will not be disappointed.  I have over and under cooked too many steaks on the barbeque – it is simply impossible to control all the variables. You will not lose any of the spectacular beef flavor if you carefully follow these simple steps. The combination of an excellent sear followed by a brief visit to a hot oven and a rest before serving creates the most consistently GREAT steak…each and every time. I have used this method for New York strip steaks, rib-eyes, filet mignon, top sirloin and porterhouse…anywhere from a 1 ½ ” thickness to 2 ½” thick bone-in porterhouse steaks. 

  • Steak - cut of your choosing - Rib-eye is featured
  • Seasonings per your taste:
  • Smoked Salt, 
  • Penzey's Krakow nights
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tsp canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 - 1 Tb butter/per steak

The first critical step to the perfect steak begins at the grocery store with the best product you can get.  Our favorite cut is the rib eye from Meyer Beef. (http://meyernaturalangus.com) It is hormone/antibiotic free, grass-fed vegetarian diet-fed Angus beef.  It is widely available at “natural” grocers as well as online.  However, any similar raised quality beef will work just as well.

To be honest, I have tried numerous rubs and seasonings and love many of them.  But when we splurge on a truly superior piece of meat – it really needs very little. The flavor is in the beef.  To get the perfect steak, begin cooking after it reaches room temperature. If the outside of the steak is room temp and inside cold – it will not cook evenly. Take them out of the refrigerator about 2 hours prior to cooking!

Pat the steak dry with paper towels – all over.  Our favorite seasoning is a bourbon smoked sea salt and Penzey’s Krakow nights blend*. Odds are good you don’t have these sitting around your pantry – but any coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper will work.  Or, leave me a note in the comment section and I’ll share some of our favorite steak rubs.  Generously salt and pepper both sides of each steak.
Ribeye with spices. This works with NY strip, filet, or top sirloin, too.
Heat oven to 400 degree F (450 degree F, if a single large steak). It MUST be at 400 F before the steaks are cooked so be certain to turn your oven on well in advance of beginning to sear on the stove top.
Added to a VERY HOT cast-iron pan
Heat a HEAVY cast-iron or stainless steel ovenproof pan over med-hi heat until a few drops of water sprinkled in the pan evaporate within 3 seconds. THEN, after the pan is sufficiently hot – coat the bottom of the pan with about 2 tsp grapeseed or canola oil.  This is important – follow the rule of “hot pan, cold oil = no stick”.  Why? The metal of the pan is full of pores that expand when heated and allows the oil to settle in those pores. If you add oil to cold pan the surface tension of the oil is so great that it will "pool" and rest on top of those pores, when you add meat, it’s weight will push the food product into the grain which is not lubricated and your food will stick.

The oil will heat quickly in the hot pan – look carefully, it should shimmer. Now add your rib-eye steaks to the pan. DO NOT MOVE THE STEAK!! Let it create the sear.  Regardless of thickness of your steak, it should sear for 2 minutes on each side, flipping only once with tongs.  (See, it did not stick!)
Seared steak
Transfer the steaks, STILL IN THE PAN, into the 400 degree F oven. Roast for 9 minutes; up to 14 minutes for a larger piece for medium-rare (insta-read thermometer of 120-130 degree F). Remove from the oven and place on a cutting board.  Immediately place about ½-1 Tb room temperature pat of butter on each steak and cover lightly with foil for 5 minutes. DON’T SKIP THIS IMPORTANT STEP!

OMG...don't forget the butter!
 This resting period is probably the most important part of making the perfect steak.  The meat continues to cook during this period – and the internal temperature will rise about 5-10 degrees. The “rest” also allows time for the juices equilibrate. While the steak cooked – the juices within the steak move to center – as it cools, it allows the same juices to move throughout the steak. If you cut into the steak prematurely, those same juices would just run out onto your cutting board. Don’t skip the butter either – you are eating a steak, a ½ Tb butter will not really increase the caloric intake but will add greatly to the flavor and “mouth-feel” of your finished product.

Once the “rest” has concluded – it is time to serve!  OMG – so, so very good.  It truly needs no adornments. Just serve with a wonderful California Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon, some french fries and a green salad (or maybe an iceberg lettuce/bleu cheese dressing/bacon salad).  It will be the best meal of the year for the hungry carnivore!

Bon Appetit!  Larue

* Penzey’s Krakow Nights:  a Polish style seasoning with salt, pepper, coriander, garlic, mustard, marjoram, savory, sugar and mace.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Grilled Romaine, Mint Vinaigrette & Halloumi cheese

For comments, please post below or email to cookingwithlarue@gmail.com

Grilled Romaine, Mint Vinaigrette & Halloumi cheese
Serves 4
Difficulty: Easy
Grilled Romaine, Mint Vinaigrette & Halloumi cheese
Yes, you can grill lettuce! Romaine is both sturdy enough and flavorful enough to stand up to the heat and char of the grill. Something magical happens when you cook lettuce, especially when it just starts to wilt – the edges become silky smooth, the leaves become a little bit sweeter, the core a little bit crunchier and overall, it just gets a whole lot tastier. The flavor of grilled romaine is hard to describe. It is smokey and charred but still crunchy. If its pouring rain, hail, snow or whatever is keeping you indoors – you could give a go and sauté in a hot cast iron pan. One with ridges would even give the grill marks! I use bagged hearts of romaine for a few reasons. They are the perfect size with little waste, they are ready to use upon purchase and they are not slogged down with water like whole heads of lettuce usually are.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Roasted Brussels sprouts Salad with Cranberries & Pecans

Roasted Brussels sprouts Salad with Cranberries & Pecans
Serves: 4
Difficulty Level: Easy
 
Roasted Brussels sprouts Salad with Cranberries & Pecans
Are you looking for a salad with a little something different?  This could be it. Personally, I love Brussels sprouts – raw or roasted.  But if someone in your household is less excited by eating these baby cabbages – roasting them may be the answer. Like so many vegetables, roasting brings out the toasted sweeter flavor. Couple that with cranberries, nuts and vinaigrette and you have a divine flavor combination and great side course or entrée. Brussels sprouts might just be the rising stars of the vegetable patch. These once-reviled cruciferous vegetables – cousins to cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and kale – are increasingly ubiquitous on restaurant menus and at farmers markets. The flavorless boiled version is now most likely to be served roasted, fried or even raw and shaved into a salad. Perhaps best of all, Brussels sprouts are nutritional powerhouses, loaded with vitamins, cholesterol-reducing fiber, folate and antioxidants.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Minestrone Soup with Cranberry Beans & Arugula Pesto

Minestrone Soup with Cranberry Beans & Arugula Pesto
 Serves: 6
Difficulty level: Gourmet
 
Minestrone Soup with Cranberry Beans & Arugula Pesto
Minestrone Soup is the best vegetable soup ever! Really it is. It’s jam-packed with goodness and will do anyone who eats it the world of good. It's a great way to make the most of seasonal produce – vary your choices throughout the year. Make a big batch of soup, even if you’re only cooking for yourself – you can keep the rest in the fridge for several days or freeze portions to eat another day. The additional beans give it quite the protein boost, making it a meal in itself.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Salt and Vinegar Potatoes

Salt and Vinegar Potatoes
Serves: 4
Difficulty Level: Super Easy, embarrassingly so
Salt and Vinegar Potatoes 
I was not planning to post this recipe because it is just too simple to blog. But I have served it enough times to rave reviews that I thought sharing was in order. Do you love Salt & Vinegar potato chips or French fries with malt vinegar? – well this is your dish. Same great tang as with chips comes from vinegar soaking – or rather boiling – into the baby potatoes in order to drench each and every bite. I love flaky salt and kick of vinegar that makes these skillet potatoes almost taste like a bag of chips.  Only wayyyyyyyyyy better. Potatoes should be crispy on the outside and creamy within. This method will get you there and yields color, more flavor and crackling skin. Who could ask for more? I used baby Yukon’s this time…but fingerlings would work equally well. One could also smash the potatoes before the last fry for even greater crispiness.