Arx Hereticus

Welcome to the ramblings of a merry heretic, an ex-pat (Tex-pat?) American living in Maryland after having spent six years in Germany. Arx Hereticus is part travelogue, part cooking, part budo, part socio-political commentary and mostly just me BSing.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Making store bought steak taste like restaurant grade meat

Y'all know that generally speaking, the meat we buy in the grocery (to include Sam's and Costco-type operations, I presume) is actually a couple of grade below the cheapest stuff you get in a restaurant. At least, that's what all the food writers tell us ...

This trick/technique works great to enhance the flavor of steak, specifically, and I've also used it on slabs of pork tenderloin cooked steak-style, and can only guess that it ought to work on any cut of meat sufficiently thick.

You need to start with thick steak, at least 1" thick. No thinner than 3/4" ... the sirloins I cooked the other night were about 1.5" thick.

First, decide if you want any seasoning on your steak. Generally, Em and I use a garlic-rosemary seasoning so that'll be my example.

Get some chunky salt, sea salt or kosher or whatever, just as long as it chunks and not table salt.

Lay down a bed of the salt plop the steaks down on it, season the top with the garlic-rosemary mix, then layer more salt on top.

I'm talking bury the steak here, enough salt to cause a heart attack. Really, you want to bury the steak ... try to leave no meat showing.

Now, step away and let it sit for 30 min to an hour, thicker steak, more time. No more than one hour at any rate.

Go check your e-mail, update your FaceBook page or whatever.

When your timer goes off, dump the salt, rinse the steaks, pat dry.

Voila, They're ready to cook.

I've used this to grill and in the pan.

Why does this make steak taste better? It's teh Sceince!

The salt creates a fairly interesting physical/chemical reaction that exchanges water, drawing moisture out of the steak (in this case, through the seasoning) and then back into the meat (carrying seasoning back into the meat).

I stole the technique from a food blog, and was a little leery, but tried it and was thrilled with the result.

Another technique I say last evening on a cooking show looks interesting, too -- a method to simulate dry aging.

The chef basically pre-heated the steak (in a warm oven 275F IIRC) for about 20 minutes before pan-cooking in a heavy steel pan. Theory is that the pre-heating does something similar to the salt trick, and with the meat warmer internally, you can cook it hotter and shorter to get a good crusty finish with a better, less grey interior.

The steak au poivre we made this way:

Crush peppercorns coarsely, put 'em in a plate or dish, press the steak into the pepper top and bottom..

Melt a dab of butter and some good oil in a pan, brown the steak on both sides, remove and let rest (under tented foil or between plates to conserve some of the heat).

Reduce the heat, remove the pan, pour in about a half cup of decent brandy (the chef flamed the brandy, but when I tried it, the hot pan evaporated enough brandy instantly that it wouldn't flame) to deglaze, adding in a bit of cream to create a pan sauce.

Just before you're done with the sauce, add a shot of fresh brandy for flavor. Return the steaks and coat them in the sauce briefly, letting them warm back up, then serve with the sauce drizzled over.

Sirloin isn't a good choice for this, it's too lean, we had to add more fat (butter) to get the sauce happy.

Good eatin'!


Blogger Rogger Mcloud said...

I love the steak. Specially the steak on the grill. They are awsome. But I don't like the sauce in the meat. It is like you can not feell the taste of the meat. I am staying in Argentina, where I rent an apartment in buenos aires and they don't usally use sauces for the meat.

1:31 PM  

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