June 3rd, 2011

If It Quacks Like a Duck…It’s Not a Steak

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Okay, that’s a Mallard, but Super Sister-in-Law Chef Sandy will be talking to us about the MAILLARD reaction today. Very different things.

Close. But not really.

Here’s what she has to share with us about creating exquisite flavor for your steaks with what is known as the Maillard reaction. Man, it’s nice to have smart people in the family . . .

What is the Maillard reaction?  Does it have anything to do with ducks?

What makes a steak mouthwateringly delicious?

Read on . . .

From Wikipedia: “The Maillard reaction (French pronunciation: meh-YAR) is a form of nonenzymatic browning similar to carmelization. It results from a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducting sugar, usually requiring heat. Vitally important in the preparation or presentation of many types of food, it is named after chemist Louis-Camille Maillard.”

What this means in layman’s’ terms is that the combination of high heat with amino acids creates a new flavor profile.  This reaction is accelerated by an alkaline environment.

The Maillard reaction is what produces the brown-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside pretzels available in Biergartens in Germany, or from street side vendors in the Northeast US.  This reaction is what we are looking for when we brush egg wash or milk onto pastry – the browning that will occur when the product is baked adds a tremendous dimension to the finished product, in addition to adding visual appeal.  If you ever try to make pretzels or bagels at home without adding something alkaline on the outside (the recommended method is to dip the dough in a boiling baking soda bath) you will be sadly disappointed in your resulting pastry.  You will have a crunchy, pale, bloated looking pretzel or bagel instead of the shiny brown crust covering a tender soft interior product.

Alkalinity in order of weakest-strongest:

Milk – almost acid, just slightly more alkaline than water

Eggs

Salt

Baking Soda

Lye

Pretzels, in fact, used to be made in commercial settings by dipping them in a lye bath, which I would never recommend you try at home.  I have had great pretzel-making success using the baking soda bath method – dunk the shaped pretzel dough in boiling water to which 2/3 cup of baking soda has been added.  Surprisingly, the baking soda doesn’t really impart a taste to the pretzels (thank goodness!), just allows them to brown beautifully.  The recipe I use doubles up on the Maillard effect by then brushing the pretzels with egg yolk before sprinkling with pretzel salt and baking.

So what does all of this have to do with cooking a great steak?

The Maillard reaction is that amazingly brown seared crust on a fantastically prepared steak or burger.  The nuance of flavors is something that cannot be duplicated or created with any combination of seasonings; it must be cooked into the meat.  Meat is actually acidic, so it really benefits from a little help to get a Maillard reaction when cooking meat:

  • ALWAYS dry meat before cooking –use a paper towel to blot the meat dry before you even season the beef, or blot dry anything that has been marinated
  • get your pan hot
  • season the meat with kosher salt to increase your Maillard reaction
  • use a well seasoned pan to avoid the need to add a lot of oil
  • don’t crowd the pan – this will reduce the heat in the pan and prevent that elusive crust from forming
  • let the meat cook long enough to form a crust before you disturb or turn it
  • cook in a pan rather than on a grill to get the purest meat flavor and best Maillard reaction

So there you have it! Nothing to do with ducks whatsoever. Try these tips for the Maillard reaction the next time you are sizzling a beautiful steak and it will not only be gorgeous – it’ll be incredibly flavorful too!

Photo courtesy of Animal.Discovery.com.


May 19th, 2011

Great Steakhouse Quality Bread

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Super Sister-in-Law Chef Sandy is back today with a recipe and tips for making your own amazing bread (like they serve in the best steakhouses) at home.

This way, you can get the ENTIRE steakhouse experience at home!

Here’s what she has to say:

One of my criteria for any great restaurant is the quality of its bread.  Now, thanks to some genius bakers, it’s totally possible for you to make great bread at home, to go with your fantastic steaks and side dishes.  Who needs to eat out, anyways?

I use a recipe created by Jeff Hertzberg, MD and Zoe Francois from their book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Because I live above 6000 ft, I have made a few adaptations, like reducing the yeast, and because I am a recipe-tinkerer from way back, I add a few things in for my family.  My only other secret is to use King Arthur Flours, because I am a believer in the quality of their products.  I use at least ½ King Arthur Whole Wheat flour, and add a little extra water.  Sometimes, I will add whey from the yogurt that is in my fridge as part of the liquid, if I have it.

The reason this recipe is so wonderful, besides the fact that it is tasty, is that it truly is easier than any other bread recipe I have ever tried.  I get more consistent results from this recipe than I ever got from my bread maker, plus I have a gorgeous, crusty, delicious loaf of bread instead of a square loaf with a hole in the bottom.

If you’re not familiar, the concept behind the “5 Minute” breads is that they are mixed and kept in the fridge, in large batches, for up to 2 weeks.  This time in the fridge develops a slight tang, makes the dough easier to work with and the moist dough makes the artisanal bread crust and moist “crumb.” The recipe makes enough dough for 4 small loaves of bread.

I used to be better about following instructions, like “use a baking stone,” but since I lost mine during the move, I just use an upside-down cookie sheet, preheated in my oven to bake this bread.  I baked this bread just recently and shared with a good friend who has a little boy who is just learning to talk – he loved this bread and called for “more dat.”  I second that motion!

Although the Master Recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is great, here is my version of the bread, made with ½ whole wheat flour:

3½ cups lukewarm water

1½ Tbsp granulated yeast

1½ Tbsp kosher salt

3 cups King Arthur Bread Flour

3 cups King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour

½ cup wheat germ

(Note – for high altitude, I reduce the amount of yeast to 1 Tbsp.)

In a 5 or 6 quart bowl or lidded food storage container, dump in most of the water (3 cups) and add the yeast and salt. Dump in the flour all at once and stir with a long handled sturdy wooden spoon, a silicone spatula or a Danish Dough Hook.  The rest of the water should be added, as needed, depending on your climate/altitude/flour choice.  When you mix the dough, let it rest for about 5 minutes to see if it relaxed into the shape of the container – if you can’t easily mix in the flour, you will definitely need to add additional water.  This is not dough that requires a mixer to come together.

Stir it until all of the flour is incorporated into the dough.  The dough will be looser than most bread doughs you have seen – it will flatten out and take the shape of the bowl or container quickly – not cake batter thin, but looser than cookie or most bread doughs you may have worked with.  Because I work with King Arthur Flour, live in a dry climate, and use about ½ whole wheat flour, I usually end up adding about ½ to ¾ cup more liquid than the original recipe calls for.

Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for about 2 hours to rise. When you first mix the dough it will not occupy much of the container, but after the initial rise it will almost fill it.  Don’t punch it down, just cover it loosely, with plastic wrap or set the lid of the container on top of it. I use a plate on top of my large bowl to give a cover without sealing the dough in.  Set it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours for the easiest handling.

The next day when you pull the dough out of the refrigerator you will notice that it has collapsed – this is normal for this dough.  Dust the surface of the dough with a little flour, just enough to prevent it from sticking to your hands when you reach in to pull a piece out.

Cut off a 1-pound piece of dough using kitchen shears and form it into a ball.

To shape the dough, grab your mass of dough – about the size of a large grapefruit for a one-pound loaf of bread, and sort of tuck all of the ends around to the bottom of the mass of dough and stretch a “cloak” of dough around the ball.  If you are shaping the dough into rolls, now is the time to do this – for nice dinner rolls, cut the ball of dough into 6 pieces and form each of these into a neat little ball.  You may need to dust your hands with a little flour, or counter-intuitively, wet them, to get a nice shape – the quicker you move here, the easier, I promise.

If you want to add something like olives to the bread, you can either mix it into the dough (at the first mix,) or sort of roll it in, jelly roll style.  For bread to enjoy with a nice steak dinner, I’d go simple.  Leave some good quality salted butter on the counter to soften to room temp while you cook.

Place the ball of dough on a sheet of parchment paper… (or rest it on a generous layer of corn meal on top of a pizza peel.)

Let the dough rest for at least 40 minutes, or 60 or even 90 minutes.  It won’t rise much, but that is how the recipe was designed.  Longer rests will allow the center of the loaf to be less dense, with larger holes.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a baking stone on the center rack, with a metal broiler tray on the bottom (never use a glass vessel for this or it will shatter), which will be used to produce steam. (The tray needs to be at least 4 or 5 inches away from your stone to prevent it from cracking.)  If you don’t have a pizza stone, use a cookie sheet, upside down, on the center rack.

Slash the loaf deeply (1/2 inch or so, with scissors or a serrated knife) to prevent splitting.

Slide the loaf into the oven onto the preheated stone and add a cup of hot water to the broiler tray. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes or until a deep brown color. As the bread bakes you should notice a nice oven spring in the dough. This is where the dough rises.

If you used parchment paper you will want to remove it after about 20-25 minutes to crisp up the bottom crust. Continue baking the loaf directly on the stone for the last 5-10 minutes.

Allow the loaf to cool on a rack until it is room temperature.

If you have any leftover bread just let it sit, uncovered on the cutting board or counter with the cut side down.

Enjoy!

 

 


September 30th, 2010

Beefy Stone Soup

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It’s fall and my Super Sister-in-Law Chef Sandy is back today with a hearty, beefy, autumny favorite that any beef lover will eat up. She always knows just the right thing to make to welcome the season. Enjoy!

I made a fabulous pot roast on Friday, because the weather was frightful and was just begging for it.  It was tender and flavorful and everything you could hope for from a pot roast.  And it was large enough for leftovers, because I always like to have enough for second helpings – we all know it is just as easy to cook a 4 pound piece of meat as a 2 pound one, it just takes a little longer.  But, the question is, do we really want to eat the same thing twice?  If you ask my daughter, the answer is an emphatic “No!”  So this is where I have to get a little creative.

In this economic time of doomsday forecasts on all of the news media, it just feels right to be a little frugal in the way I run my kitchen.  One of the best ways to do this is to do a great job managing our food budget by not being wasteful.  But I still want to make mealtime delicious and enjoyable for everyone.  So I use my leftovers, a little creativity and a little bribery to make everyone happy at the dinner table.  I still shop for the best quality meats and vegetables, and we always get great bread.

Tonight we are going to have Stone Soup and salad for dinner.  Did you ever read the Grimm Brothers fable Stone Soup to your kids?  It is one that was read to me when I was probably in first or second grade, and it is a story that has stuck with me all of these years.  The idea is simple – just a little bit of this and a little bit of that and you can have a nourishing meal.

The bribery comes in with the garlic bread to eat with it, and the cookies and milk for dessert.  The soup will be vegetable soup, made with pot roast and gravy leftovers, plus some other goodies from the pantry, refrigerator and freezer.

Stone Soup, AKA

Quick and Easy Vegetable-Beef Soup

2 cups assorted vegetables, either frozen or leftover or fresh chopped

(I used 1 chopped carrot, 1 cup frozen green beans and peas, ½ cup of garbanzo beans, 1 leftover roasted potato)

½ cup spaghetti sauce, Bloody Mary mix or tomato juice

3 cups stock or water

1 cup diced leftover roast beef, plus gravy

Sauté any fresh vegetables in olive oil until they are tender, seasoning as necessary.  Add frozen vegetables, stock/water, tomato product and gravy.  The meat may be added at the very last minute, or right away, depending on your preference.  Bring the mixture to a boil, lower to simmer and cook gently for about 5 minutes until all the vegetables are just tender.

Just before serving, check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper (maybe hot sauce) as desired.  Maybe a little parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top.

Great Garlic Bread

6 slices day-old Italian bread

1 clove fresh garlic, peeled and cut in half

2 TB butter

Salt (if desired)

Toast the bread until golden in the toaster.  When it comes out of the toaster, immediately rub it with the cut garlic clove.  The more you rub the clove, the stronger the flavor.  Then butter the toast and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, which will bring out the garlic flavor.  Serve immediately.

For my chocolaty-chocolate chip cookies:

One recipe traditional chocolate chip cookies (from the back of any package of chocolate chips), with the following substitutions:

In place of 2 ¼ cups flour, just use 2 cups of flour, plus ¾ cup of best quality cocoa powder.

In place of 2 cups of semi sweet chocolate chips, use only 1 cup, plus one cup each white chocolate chips and bittersweet or milk chocolate chips.

When you have formed the teaspoonfuls of cookie dough, drop them into milk chocolate sprinkles and roll them around to coat.  Then place on a cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes, or until you just can slide a spatula under a done cookie.

When you remove the cookie sheet from the oven, quickly place an assortment of 5 or so of the various chips in the center of the cookie.  Allow them to melt slightly and then swirl the top of each if desired.

Or use a refrigerated roll of cookie dough, adding 1/3 to ½ cup of cocoa to the dough before shaping.  Proceed as directed above.


May 26th, 2010

Thoughts on Seasoning

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Super Sister-in-Law and Amazing Chef Sandy is back with her wisdom on the subject of seasoning today.

I always learn so much from her. Whether it’s the steak itself or the sides to that yummy steak dinner:  seasoning matters.

Class is in session . . .

Let’s face it; some meals are just better than others.  Why do some meals just resonate with us?  Sometimes it’s the company, or the setting.  But when we get to the brass tacks of the food on our plate, what makes one meal better than another?

Usually it is because of the quality of ingredients, and perfect seasoning.  The quality of the food we cook at home is dependent on using the best ingredients we can get our hands on.  Use great cuts of meat, and the best seasonal vegetables you can find.

When it comes to seasoning properly, one of the best tips I can give you is to taste what you are cooking, often.  I taste the water that I am going to cook pasta in.  Water salted for cooking any kind of carbohydrate (pasta, potatoes, vegetable) should taste slightly salty.  Not “Oh my god that’s salty” but just kind of a slight taste of the sea.  Properly seasoning the water that you cook in before you add the starch will mean using a lot less total salt in your cooking.  You may not have to add more salt after cooking and the food will taste like what it is – you want the potatoes to taste like potatoes, not salt and certainly not bland.

I taste raw asparagus before it goes on the grill.  If you are making a risotto, taste the stock and correct it for seasoning before you add the rice.  If you are making a pilaf, season the vegetables as you are sautéing them, then add perfectly seasoned stock.  Before you serve, taste the food again.  You may need to adjust the seasoning again.

For many vegetables and other starches, a little bit of acid (in the form of citrus juice – a squeeze of lemon juice, for example or a few drops of a great vinegar) added just before serving perks up the flavor in an indescribable way – it just makes the flavor fuller and brighter.  If you need a little more salt flavor, you may want to consider adding a little grated parmesan cheese or a little soy sauce to give that boost.  If you have added cheese to a dish, adding a few drops (really – less than a teaspoon) of balsamic vinegar will make the cheese taste cheesier.

When adding any kind of seasoning, add a little, taste and adjust.  We all know that it is impossible to take out seasoning when you have added way too much.  Pour salt onto the back of your hand or into a measuring spoon, not directly into a soup or stew from its container.  If you accidently dump too much you may be able to salvage your meal by quickly scooping up what you dumped in.  When you add vinegar or lemon juice, also add just a few drops at a time to enhance the flavor – no one wants their risotto to taste of balsamic vinegar.

If you have slightly over salted something like a stew or soup, one of my grandmother’s tricks was to add a few chunks of raw potatoes.  Let them cook for 20-30 minutes, and then either scoop them out or leave them in if you desire.  A few drops of acid will also help a slight over-salting.  You may be able to add more unseasoned liquid to take some of the over saltiness out.

Acid-y                                                                     Salt-y

Lemon, Lime Juice                                            Salt

Wine                                                                        Soy Sauce

Balsamic Vinegar                                              Parmesan Cheese

Other Fine Vinegars                                         Feta Cheese

Garlic

Garlic is one of the most popular seasonings used in this country, after salt and pepper of course.  Of course, garlic is really a vegetable, from the onion family.  You can buy garlic in many forms in this country – garlic salt, garlic powder, garlic in a tube, jar or from the freezer.  And then of course there is a fresh bulb of garlic, which may be intimidating to some people.  When you get familiar with the fresh form of garlic, and how easy it really is to use, you may be ready to clear all those other jars from your pantries!

First, a little terminology:

Head of Garlic/ Bulb of Garlic – this is the onion-sized whole product of garlic, which is covered by a pale, papery skin.

Clove of Garlic – each head of garlic has numerous papery-skinned cloves, usually upwards of 8-9.  These are held together with a plate at the bottom, which will be discarded.

The pungent flavor of garlic is released when the cells inside the clove are broken.  The more they are broken, the more pungent the flavor – a slice of garlic will be much less strong tasting than crushed fresh garlic.

Personally, I don’t like to bite into a chunk of garlic, so for most of my cooking purposes I use crushed garlic, although often just one or two small cloves.  I take a whole, unpeeled clove of garlic and place it on my cutting board.  Then I lay the flat side of my heavy chef’s knife over the clove, I use one hand to really pound the knife onto the garlic.  This smashing will loosen the skin from the clove, making it easy to remove.  I remove the skin, and then continue using the knife side to really crush the garlic.  If I also need a little salt in the recipe, I often add kosher salt to the garlic on my board, because the kosher salt really abrades the garlic into a paste.  Then scrape the board and the knife into my sauté pan, where I sauté the garlic just briefly over medium heat and continue with my recipe.

This salty garlic paste is also delicious added to a quantity of softened butter, for yummy garlic bread or to finish a delicious hot off the grill steak.  I use one large clove of garlic, smashed, then crushed with about a teaspoon of kosher salt (2/3 garlic, 1/3 salt) and mix this with 4 tablespoons of softened butter, plus fresh parsley, chopped, if available.

A quick and easy way to make garlic bread without smashing the garlic to smithereens is to toast good quality rustic bread.  When the toast is crunchy, simply slice a clove of garlic and rub the cut side of the clove on the toasted surface of the bread.  Spread with butter or drizzle with a little olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and you have a delicious, authentic garlic toast to go with that juicy, tender steak!


December 31st, 2009

Steak Favorites of 2009

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It’s New Year’s Eve and we are about to embark upon a new decade. Can you believe that?

So today I’d like to share with you my Top 10 Favorite Blog Posts of 2009. It’s been a year of great food and great adventures for me and my family. Thank you for coming along with us.

baconwrappedfilet-300x200

And . . . 2010 is full of promise. If I had a crystal ball, I’d see lots and lots of steak in my future. And yours.

But that’s just a guess.

Enjoy — and Happy New Year!!!!

TOP 10 FAVORITE STEAKY BLOG POSTS OF 2009

1.  Jan. 3 — The Tenderest Tenderloin

2.  Jan. 23 — Here We Go Kabob-ing

3.  Feb. 19 — Three’s Company

4.  Feb. 27 — Enchilada Steak Pie Recipe

5.  Apr. 8 — Beef Recipe:  Prime Rib Roast and Yorkshire Pudding

6.  Jun. 26 — Pizza. Beef. Scrumptious.

7.  Jul. 22 — Beefy Sliders

8.  Sept. 25 — Dreamy Meatloaf

9.  Oct. 6 — Steak and Grilled Broccoli

10.  Dec. 10 — O Steaky Night


October 22nd, 2009

Steak, Moonstruck and Other Good Stuff

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moonstruck

I LOVE movies — don’t you? You can lose yourself in a movie, expand your mind, or just laugh for a moment.

Super Chef Sister-in-Law Sandy is here today with her experience with the movie Moonstruck.

It involves steak, mad love and iron intake.

Intrigued? Read on . . .

One of my favorite movies is Moonstruck, with Nicolas Cage and Cher starring as a couple of Italians living in Little Italy in New York City who fall in love, despite some obstacles.  It is kind of a foodie movie, in that much of the dialogue/action revolves around the dinner table.  The two of them begin as pretty violent adversaries, and then she cooks him a steak so that they can have a civilized discussion about a family rift.

There are several interesting things about the scene that really resonate with me — the first of course being that a meal is a way to bring people together.  I am definitely a food equates to love kind of girl — a meal together is really one of the most joyous ways to get together.  I enjoy having a meal together with family or friends, and I think that preparing food together is such an intimate way to get to know people.  It just feels comfortable working together.  Think of all those awkward dates in college when you were waiting for the waiter or waiting for the food to come.  Nothing to do, nervous… yuck!  Making something from your kitchen is really a way to show people that you like them.

Another thing that I find really funny about the scene is that Cher does what she thinks is best for his character, despite what he wants.  “I’m not hungry,” he says and she replies that she is cooking him a steak.  “I like it well done,” he says.  And she says, “You’ll eat it bloody to feed your blood.”  When the food is prepared, he grunts, “It’s good.”  They eat together and work out their issues.

When I watched this again the other day, I wondered about the line “You’ll eat it bloody to feed your blood.”  From my college nutrition class, I remembered a few things about iron absorption, but not anything specifically about doneness related to iron levels.  So after a bit of research on the Internet, I came up with a controlled study done by the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University, New Zealand.  Their conclusion was that cooking beef indeed did change some of the soluble form of iron in beef to insoluble, and a greater doneness meant that more of the iron was converted to an insoluble (therefore unusable) form for human consumption.  They did conclude, though, that despite these changes with cooking, beef remains a good source of iron and a useful source of the potentially bioactive compounds taurine, carnosine, coenzyme Q10 and creatine.

If you want to maximize the amount of usable iron you get from any meal, it is important to limit tannins (found in tea, red wine and other sources) taken at the same meal, and instead enjoy your steak with some vitamin C.  How about a nice glass of lemonade or water with a splash of lime?  Also, if you eat other foods like beans, which are a good source of iron also, the steak will help you absorb iron from the other foods.

When my son was a toddler, his pediatrician diagnosed a mild iron deficiency in him.  After my first taste of the supplement recommended to me for him I knew I’d have to find a way to get his iron intake up from food sources — iron supplements taste awful, worse than any other medicine I have ever taken myself.

At the time I did lots of research into what I could to increase his iron absorption from food.  One of the simplest ways that you can increase the amount of iron in your diet is to use cast iron to cook with.  Believe it or not, a bit of the iron from the cooking vessel actually imparts itself into whatever you cook in it.  Another easy way to get iron in him was in the hot cereals aisle.  Check out some of the iron levels in those cereals.  I even used some of the boxed cereals to make muffins and baked goods — you can hide a lot of goodness in a banana chocolate chip muffin.  Now he is the biggest steak eater in the family, so not so much a problem anymore.

If you have questions about the iron levels in your blood or in your diet, please consult your health professional.  I just think it’s interesting to know the little things that we can do to increase the nutritional benefits from the food that we eat. Enjoy your steak – it’s health food!

Nutrition Facts

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for iron in healthy adults is 10 milligrams per day for men and 15 milligrams per day for premenopausal women. Premenopausal women’s needs are higher than men’s needs because women lose iron during menstruation.

It is generally easier for men to get enough iron than it is for women. Because they are usually bigger, men have higher calorie needs and will most likely eat enough food to meet their iron requirements. Women, on the other hand, tend to eat less. This makes it more difficult for them to meet their iron needs. It is, therefore, particularly important for premenopausal women to eat foods high in iron.

Pregnant women will need as much as 30 milligrams of iron per day. The main reason is because the unborn baby needs iron for development. As a result, it will draw from the mother’s iron stores. This can quickly deplete a woman of iron if she is not eating enough iron rich foods.

In general, meat, fish, and poultry are excellent sources. Other sources of iron include beans, dried fruits, whole grains, fortified cereals, and enriched breads.

Iron is a mineral essential for life. Found in red blood cells, iron’s primary role is to carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Without oxygen, the body’s cells cannot function normally.

If the body’s iron stores become too low, an iron-deficiency anemia can occur. This is characterized by weakness, lethargy, muscle fatigue, and shortness of breath. In severe cases, a person’s skin may become pale due to a lack of red blood cells in the body.

Source: http://www.calories-nutrition.buddyslim.com/beef-steak/

Photo courtesy of SmackAMack.wordpress.com.


October 15th, 2009

Tips: Steak on a Charcoal Grill

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Happy day! Super-Cali-Fragilistic Sister-in-Law Chef Sandy weighs in today on the use of a charcoal grill versus gas.

There are some fierce proponents of each. Here, Sandy tells us the ins and outs of using charcoal to cook that gorgeous steak. Enjoy!

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Using A Charcoal Grill

Right before Hurricane Ike hit Houston last year, my husband and I decided we needed to have a grill, just in case we lost electricity for a while.  We had left our old gas grill behind when we moved, and had planned on replacing it when we got settled in our new home.  Well, the day before a hurricane hits is no time to buy a grill, we discovered, and we were not able to find a gas grill anywhere in the Houston area.  The only thing we could find was a few bags of charcoal and a camping sized charcoal grill.

Given that there were no other options, we went with the charcoal grill and quickly learned some of the nuances which make this just a little more complicated then firing up a gas grill.  I do feel like I have mastered a few tricks which I would like to share with you, whether you are a new user, or someone who may just do the charcoal thing occasionally, like when you are camping or picnicking at a state park.

If you are a long-time charcoal griller, you’ll probably be familiar with all of this.  My intended audience is those who have not often had success with charcoal, but would like to give it a try.  Gas grills are certainly a convenient option, but if for whatever reason or preference drives you to use a charcoal grill here are some things that might help you have success.

The charcoal grill has two grates — one is intended to support the charcoal at the bottom of the grill, the other is to cook your food on.  The lower grate holds the charcoal up slightly from the bottom of the grill so that oxygen can get to the pile of briquettes.  Use about 6 total sheets of newspaper, rolled tightly into 2 rolls. Form an X at the bottom of the grill with the 2 rolls of newspaper, and place the bottom grate on top of the newspaper to hold it in place.

Next, form a pyramid of the charcoal, so that it will burn efficiently and not require too much starter fluid.  The amount of charcoal you will want to use is limited by the size of the grill, of course, but also should be determined by how much you want to cook.  A couple of burgers may only need something like 30 briquettes, but pounds and pounds of steaks and chicken will take longer to cook, therefore you will need a fire that burns longer — plus more briquettes.

Once you have a nice square pyramid (ask your fourth grader!) squirt the pile with the recommended amount of lighter fluid.  Don’t forget to read the package.  It is usually just a couple-second squirt.  Don’t be that guy who squirts half a bottle of lighter fluid onto a pile of burning charcoal – this is dangerous and foolish and stinks!  Put the top back on the bottle and put it far from the fire, before you light a match.  Light the ends of your paper tubes, which should fairly quickly catch the pile of briquettes on fire.

After about 20 minutes, when the briquettes are covered with ash and the flames have died down, use a fire-proof implement to spread the hot charcoal evenly on the grate.  Please use every safety precaution.  Sparks can and will fly up.  Replace the clean cooking grate on top of the hot charcoal and you are ready to cook.

Enjoy the smokier flavor that charcoal grilling imparts to your food — you may become a convert!

Photo of Weber charcoal grill courtesy of HomeDepot.com.


October 6th, 2009

Steak and Grilled Broccoli

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broccoli2

Tired of that baked potato? Super Sister-in-Law Chef Sandy gives us some ideas for what to eat with that tasty steak you’re planning. And – beware – it’s healthy for you. Mwuahahahahahaha!

(That was an evil laugh.) Here’s what she says . . .

What are you going to eat alongside of that gorgeous steak tonight?  Might I suggest broccoli, cooked right beside it on the grill?  Broccoli, as we all have heard, is one of nature’s super foods.  It has a ton of vitamin C, as well as other antioxidants and nutrients which are fabulous for you.

The problem with broccoli for many people is the bitter taste and/or texture.  By cooking it with a dry cooking method, the broccoli will release some of its natural sugars, covering up some of that bitterness, and the texture is less soggy than broccoli prepared in water. Here’s a super way to cook it that will change both of those characteristics, and make it easy to prepare, right next to your steak.

broccoli

Broccoli on the Grill

1 pound fresh broccoli, washed

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

2 tsp of kosher salt, if desired

1 tsp of black pepper

1 tsp red pepper flakes, if desired

1 clove of garlic, if desired

½ onion, cut into ¼” rings, if desired

Wash broccoli well, then cut into 1 inch florets.  Cut the stem pieces into ¼” rounds, so that they cook in the same time as the florets. 

Using a heavy chef’s knife, smash the clove of garlic to remove the peel, cut off the hard ends and then smash it with kosher salt.  The salt acts as an abrasive and will allow you to smash the garlic into a paste.  Place this garlic paste, peppers and olive oil into a large mixing bowl and combine with the olive oil.  Toss the prepared broccoli and onion rings into the mixing bowl, mixing to combine it well and make sure that all of the broccoli has some of the flavorful oil on it.

This broccoli will only take a few minutes to prepare on a hot grill, so if you want to serve it piping hot with the steak, you will need to start the steak first.  The advantage to this dish is that it tastes great even at room temperature, so feel free to prepare it first if you want to enjoy it that way.

To cook the broccoli, place a large piece of heavy duty foil (or a specially designed grill implement) on the grates of the grill.  Toss on the broccoli, in a single layer, and allow to cook, covered for a few minutes or until the broccoli begins to brown.  You will have some pieces which get very brown, others not so much.  I think this improves the appeal of this dish. Using tongs, flip the broccoli over and cook until desired doneness is reached.  This is a dish which will need to be tended to fairly closely — it would burn if left more than a few minutes because of the delicate size of the pieces.  Remove to serving platter, and serve with a squeeze of lemon, if desired.


September 3rd, 2009

Chef Sandy’s Steak Primer

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pic-2-beef-steak

School is back  in session so what better time to brush up on a lesson that is near and dear to my heart?  Yes, class, it’s time for a lesson on steak.

Chef Sandy goes through the ins and outs of cuts for us here. And if you pay attention you might just get an extra recess.

I often get the question, “What kind of steak should I buy?”

Well, that kind of depends on a few factors…

            -What do you want to spend?

            -What sort of texture do you want?

            -What is the doneness level that you prefer?

            -What kind of fat percentage do you want?

            -What cooking method are you planning to use?

Here is a brief overview:

Many of the cuts of beef that are used for steaks are cut from the loin portion of the beef.

Most of us are well aware that filet or beef tenderloin (and Chateaubriand) are all part of the same very expensive cut of beef.  There is very little waste, very little work for the cook (little trimming is necessary) and it is appropriate for anything and anyone who likes steak, even at the fanciest meal.  The texture of tenderloin is very tender, and some say that the flavor is not assertively beefy enough, but that is really a matter of choice. 

Many times this cut of meat will be served with a sauce or an equally luxurious topping like a bleu cheese topping or it will be wrapped in bacon, all of which will enhance the flavor. This is the priciest cut of steak, but again, there is no waste, and not too much shrinkage, so what you buy (and pay for) is what you get to eat.

But what is the difference between a T-bone and a Porterhouse?  How about a KC Strip and NY Strip?

A Porterhouse is a steak with a T-bone in the middle, and a large portion of both tenderloin and strip loin.  A T-bone is the same steak, but the tenderloin portion is usually smaller than a silver dollar, or even non-existent.  The bone-in nature of this steak usually yields great flavor, and oftentimes at the grocery store the T-bones actually have a large filet portion (and should therefore be labeled as the more expensive Porterhouse — shh, we won’t tell). 

The difference between a KC Strip and a NY Strip is basically a marketing difference.  Depends on where you are from.  Either could come with a bone, but often not, and both are a generally oblong shaped steak, with not much visible marbling, but fat around the outside (non-bone side) of the meat.  Depending on where you shop, and what part of the country you are from, these steaks are often in the high-middle of the price range for quick cooking steaks.

A ribeye or Delmonico steak is well marbled with fat, and because of its high fat content, can be cooked more well done and still remain juicy.  This kind of steak will flame up on the grill, so it should definitely be watched carefully.  One trick I have used is to first grill the steak on the grate to get grill marks (and flavor) and then put heavy duty foil on the grill and put the steaks on top to finish cooking them without incinerating them.

Sirloin steaks on the other hand, may need marinating to become juicy.  They should not usually be cooked to more than medium doneness and oftentimes are sliced thinly against the grain for presentation to help ensure a tender dining experience.  Flank steak and skirt steak (fajitas) are also cuts of meat which should be marinated, cooked quickly to a med-rare or medium doneness and sliced across the grain for tenderness.

Round steaks are usually too tough to use a direct cooking method, and are better suited to another preparation method like braising — think Swiss steak.  Brown, then cook the steak until tender in flavor liquid (gravy) for a few hours.  Many different cultures have variations on this theme, and a thin round steak can also be used as a wrapper for flavorful ingredients, with the whole bundle braised in flavorful liquid for a delicious meal.  Italians call it Braciole (may also be made with flank steak) Germans have Rouladen.  Long story short, braise it for great taste and tenderness.

If you are making Chicken Fried Steak, the traditional choice is a tenderized round steak.  This is a piece of meat which has been put through a process which mechanically pounds the steak and breaks up the tissues with thousands of little blades.  This is the only way to use this steak in a quick cooking manner, otherwise you would end up with shoeleather.  I have seen Chicken Fried Ribeye and Chicken Fried Filet on some fancier menus here in Texas, and since these are more tender pieces of meat, no mechanical tenderizing is necessary. Tasty, and about as decadent as you can get…

If you have any questions about a piece of meat you are considering buying, just ask.  At many grocery stores or even Web site, sometimes they have flip guides to cuts of meat and preferred cooking method, and sometimes even stickers on the actual meat packages which say “Great for the Grill” or “Best for Braising” or some similar catchy tips.  Or better yet, try some new choices next time you go to your favorite steak restaurant, and make a note to yourself about what you like and the preparation methods you enjoy.

Then you can try them out at home!

Photo courtesy of acjc.edu.


August 19th, 2009

Steak Recipe: Bleu Cheese Crusted Filet

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bleu cheese crusted

So, a couple of weeks ago I received a question from a reader asking about a recipe for a filet mignon encrusted in bleu cheese.

This, of course, was a new one on me so I posed the question to Super Sister-in-Law Chef  Sandy.

And, as expected, she used to prepare this delectable dish when she toiled in the kitchen of the Ritz-Carlton.

Here, she shares her secrets for making it just like the pros!

(And check out that picture she took — isn’t it to die for???)

Here’s what she has to say . . .

Recently I was asked a question about how to make a bleu cheese crusted filet like someone’s favorite restaurant did it.  There are several ways to do this, depending on the outcome you are looking for.

You can simply cook your steak to desired doneness via any combination of direct and indirect cooking that works for you (sauté/oven, over the hot coals/on the side) and then simply top the steaks with bleu cheese for a moment, just like you would top a cheeseburger, thereby insuring a gooey topping.  Or, you could put the whole thing in a fiery hot oven which would brown the cheese.  My favorite method is the one below. You make a cheese crust, using breadcrumbs, butter and seasonings, in addition to bleu cheese.  You could even add pecans or walnuts to this versatile topping, or substitute another cheese if you like.  Just keep the ratio about ½ breadcrumbs and ½ other stuff.  Plus enough melted butter to hold it together. This mixture is finished on top of the steaks and you get a crunchy, cheesy topping which I think is a great contrast to the very tender steak.

Bleu Cheese Crusted Filet of Beef

2 5-6 oz Tenderloin of Beef Steaks (Filets)

Salt and Pepper

½ cup panko (Japanese style) bread crumbs, or fresh breadcrumbs

1 Tbsp butter

½ tsp garlic or onion salt, or

1 tsp kosher salt, if desired

4 turns fresh ground pepper

1 teaspoon minced fresh herbs, such as rosemary or parsley

½ cups crumbled bleu cheese

1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

Canola or Peanut Oil, for searing

Allow the steaks to set at room temperature for about 30 minutes to equalize the internal temperature for more even cooking.

Meanwhile, prepare crumb topping:  Combine panko or fresh bread crumbs and cold butter in microwaveable bowl.  Season with flavored salt or kosher salt and pepper.  Heat on high in microwave until butter melts, stirring every 30 seconds to distribute the browned crumbs.  Remove from microwave, allow to cool for a few seconds and add the herbs and bleu cheese.  Use a fork to distribute the bleu cheese into the crumbs without making it into a paste.  Taste for seasoning, set aside.

Preheat oven to 500°F. 

Just before searing, season the filets with salt and pepper.

To sear the meat, preheat shallow sided sauté or frying pan over medium high heat until it is very hot.  Add 1 teaspoon canola oil and heat until the oil is shimmering.  Without crowding them, carefully add the steaks to the hot pan.  Do not move them for about 90 seconds, in order to ensure a nice crust.  Using tongs, carefully brown all sides of the steak, each time allowing the crust to form before disturbing the steaks.

When well-seared, remove steaks to an open baking pan to rest until the final cooking. 

Everything may be prepared ahead up until this point, as much as a day in advance.  Allow steaks to come to room temperature if they are cooked ahead and refrigerated.

When you are about 10 minutes out from serving time, finish the steaks in the preheated oven. The time this will take will depend on the doneness you desire and the thickness of your steaks.  For the 6-oz filet pictured, which was a traditionally shaped (i.e. tall) filet, prepared medium rare, about 8 minutes of total oven time was required. 

First, put the steaks into the oven for 5 minutes without topping.  Then remove from the oven and carefully brush mustard onto steaks to allow the crumb mixture to adhere. Just a thin coat — you may not need all of it, depending on the surface area to cover.  Then simply divide the crumb mixture over the steaks and return to the oven.  Watch carefully, they will burn quickly.  Check after 2 minutes; my steaks took about 3 minutes to get the topping brown and bubbly.

Allow the steaks to rest a minute as you prepare the plates for service, then serve and enjoy!


June 26th, 2009

Pizza. Beef. Scrumptious.

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We’ve talked about sprinkling your homemade pizzas with the heaven we call beef before. But here’s Sandy’s take on doing it at home with the kids.

What could be more fun than creating a meal this summer with the kids that the whole family will love?

Here’s her story — and her photo (you may drool now) . . .

sandyssteakpizza

Pizza with the Kids

So school’s out for summer where we are, and after a week at Nana’s house, my kids are back in town, and I am back in charge of their fun.  The first “official” day of summer was Monday, and I had great intentions of having my five and nine year olds make Objectives and Goals for the summer.  So it went great…. 

Surprisingly, nothing got resolved, so I have made my own projections of summer ideas and decided that one of the things we can do is work together to make some of our meals.  Somehow, even though it is often more work that way, at least I feel like they are a part of it and we are doing something useful and educational.  Plus I feel a little less like a servant to their needs and more like a developer of their potential as humans.

Although they both like to cook, I am sure that oftentimes they would like to just play with their new videogame system, and the big one can certainly entertain himself in his room with a stack of new books from the library.  But this is my plan!

One of the books I checked out is a giant cookbook, and we have made chocolate chip cookies and pizza together from this book.  I must say that the cookies were extraordinarily good, despite the fact that the only chips I had were the swirled white chocolate/ semi sweet chocolate ones (and I think they’re too sweet).  I even snuck a little healthiness into the cookies (which I am wont to do), by substituting King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour for part of the all purpose flour called for in the recipe.  The book we got was Baking Illustrated, The Practical Kitchen Companion for the Home Baker by the editors of Cooks Illustrated Magazine and the recipe was for Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip cookies.  The interesting thing about the book is that it has a little essay, for want of a better word, before each recipe, detailing how it is they came to it.  What they started with, how they tweaked the recipe, what each small change did to the final outcome. 

So my nine year old read the essay, which is kind of a description of the scientific method, when I think of it.  It explained why they used melted butter instead of whole butter, the ratio of brown to white sugar they used, and so forth.  The same basic ingredients as the standard back of the package recipe, but the ratios were tweaked a little, and I must say that they were some tasty, good looking cookies.  So I can call this a science lesson, too, right?

Then last night, we made pizza together.  My big boy helped me make the dough, measuring ingredients and turning on the standing mixer.  He also shaped the finished dough into a ball and helped make the pizza crust.  I taught him how to dice an onion, which he then sautéed with the sausage and ground beef topping.  The five year old helped us top the pizza and made sure we made one with her favorite toppings (olives!).  They were some gorgeous looking pizzas, despite the fact that I do not have a pizza stone in my oven and I do have the worlds’ worst oven to work with.  It is totally unreliable, as far as temperature goes, and has no insulation, which means that in the Houston summer, it is insane to make pizza.  Insane but good.  It must have been 125° in the kitchen by the time we were done – the oven was preheated to 500° for 30 minutes, and I am telling you our oven has no insulation on it – you could fry an egg on the top of it.  So my new plan for pizza making in the summer is to get another pizza stone (I had one for years and just haven’t replaced it after it cracked) and put it on the grill, where I will get it fiery hot, by preheating, then put the pizza on top and let it cook with the top on the grill for 6-10 minutes.  I have tried doing pizza right on the grill grate, but I am yet to end up with a satisfactory product.  The bottom crust gets too burned for my taste, and I end up cutting it off, which is not easy, nor pretty.

The picture of the pizza in the cookbook (which has gorgeous illustrations and pictures) was of a much thinner crust than we were able to accomplish.  This is something we’ll have to practice technique on, but this is definitely the best pizza we have ever made at home.  It was tasty, the crust was delicious if not perfectly round.  Thinner crust is more popular with my family, particularly my husband, so we will have to get our crust shaping technique down to more of a science.  The one thing I really noticed besides its yumminess is that I did not notice all of the salt that I get from takeout pizza.  Ever notice that an hour or so after takeout pizza, you are so thirsty you can hardly stand it?  Our pizza had kind of the opposite issue.  I almost wish it had a little more salt – I will probably add a titch more to the dough recipe next time, and maybe go with a non-organic mozzarella which may have made it a little bland.  All said, a pretty good week in cooking school ala Mom.


June 25th, 2009

Steak Chalupas!

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So, we’ve been talking a lot about what to do with leftover steaks. Sister-in-law Chef Sandy has a fantastic idea for steak chalupas you can make from any steak you have in the fridge.

Check out what she has to say!

holymolysteakchalupas

Leftover Steak Chalupas

When I cook, I like to cook green and thriftily.  Healthy, conscious of our environment, not wasteful of food or energy resources (or my own efforts.)  So if I am firing up the grill, I like to make sure that I am using most of the square footage (square inchage, to be exact…) of the heated grill grate.  Often times we end up with leftovers, which just happens to make the next nights’ dinner easier, right?  Who can argue with that? 

This week we had t-bone steaks from the grill one night, standard meal with baked potato and salad.  I had purchased an extra one, knowing exactly how much would fit on our grill.  The one very large t-bone that I knew was going to be leftover from our meal I took off the grill a little early – a little rare for our liking, because I knew it was going to be heated up when it made an appearance later in the week.

Two nights later, when time was short and everyone was hungry, I just had to heat up some chalupa shells in the oven for 5 minutes, heat up some black beans with salsa in the microwave and toss together a quick Mexican-inspired salad to make a tasty treat.  I did sauté some onions, and would have added a bell pepper if I had had one handy, then while they were cooking I sliced up that leftover steak and added it to the hot skillet just for a second to warm up the meat. 

Dena here again. I always marvel at how Sandy (and so many of you!) can think outside the box. I love the standards, but I can easily get stuck making the same things over and over again.

Boring, right?

That’s why I need this blog. And Sandy. And you. To help me keep it fresh and interesting around here.

Thanks for the ideas!!


June 19th, 2009

Smoked Meat for Dad

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Super-creative, super-at-everything sister-in-law Chef Sandy is back with her idea for spoiling the dads in your life this Father’s Day.

Hint: it involves meat. And smoking it.

pulledpork

Some like it hot.  Not me.  It is hot in Houston at the moment, and I do not want to cook.  The thought of heating up my sun-baked 1950s ranch-style home any more than necessary by turning on the oven, is just unthinkable.  I read a recipe in today’s paper for a pork sandwich that looked truly delicious and delightful.  A sandwich is not hot, right?  Wrong…. This recipe called for the pork butt to be baked for 4 hours at 250°.  With my west-facing kitchen and the worst oven in the world, that would mean the whole kitchen would be about 110° by the time dinner was ready.  By that time, I am way too hot and irritable to even think about pulling pork and making gorgeous sandwiches.  There has got to be a better way.

Cooking with a smoker is an old-fashioned, time-honored way of slow cooking meats, which also happens to cook them outside of the kitchen.  Grilling is also an outside method of cooking, but one which generally requires more attention (read: me standing over whatever is cooking, making sure it doesn’t burn) and necessarily means standing outside, hopefully in the shade, over a live heat source.  Also not that appealing when it is 97° in the shade.

But smoker cooking, especially in today’s modern smokers, is pretty hands off.  I have an electric smoker that I plug into an outlet in my garage.  The smoker sits on my driveway, about 12 feet from my kitchen back door.  In the evening before I want to cook, I dry rub seasonings on my chosen meat product (a large pork butt, in this case) and wrap it well and let it sit in the fridge overnight.  Early in the morning when it is still cool-ish, I take the meat out of the fridge while I get the smoker ready, which involves putting 2 oounces of wood in the “fire box,” and covering the bottom of the smoker with foil.  Then I drag out my heavy duty extension cord, plug the smoker in and go inside and get the meat.  The meat is placed on the grate.  I close the smoker, turn it on, and let the thing smoke for 8-10 hours until it is done.  Maybe I have to take it out and cover it with foil, which I do in the case of a pulled pork or beef brisket, but that is as hands-on as it gets.  The electric smoker I have does a great job of maintaining an even temperature, and also keeps the meat pretty moist.

My smoker also happens to be large enough (I have about 6 shelves for different products, and each shelf is big enough to hold a 9×13 pan) that I can, if organized, cook other side dishes at the same time as my main entrée.  So, for example, I can slide in a pan of beans to bake at the same time I cover the pork with foil, and when the pork is done cooking, I will also have beans. 

In the evening, after having an icy cold beverage for fortification, I can remove the meat and finish the preparations for dinner in my cool kitchen. Add some coleslaw and buns, and that is dinner for at least 8 hungry people.   Add some icy cold watermelon or ice cream for dessert, and you will have a happy crowd.

So what are you making the fathers in your life for Father’s Day this weekend?

Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of www.Gourmet-Ovens.com.


April 9th, 2009

Prime Rib Leftovers = French Dip!

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So, Easter’s over and you’ve got all this Prime Rib left over.

What to do with it?

Never fear. Sandy’s here with some ideas to keep the love flowing from your kitchen.

Check it out . . .  

frenchdip

Fabulous Roast Beef (French Dip) Sandwiches

If you happen to have any of your fabulous Prime Rib or beef roast left over, one of the best ways to enjoy it the next day is to heat it, on the stovetop, in the beef juices left over from your initial cooking.  If you do not have leftover juices, (or if you made it all into gravy) heat a good quality beef consommé to a simmer. 

Use a sharp knife and a sanitary cutting board.  Slice the cold beef as thinly as possible, trimming it to your personal taste.  Prepare your French rolls and any side dishes.  Whether you toast the rolls or not is personal preference.  Butter or garlic butter may be delicious too. You may even want to grill onions and melt some provolone cheese on the roll (kind of a Philly cheese steak kind of thing, not a French Dip in my book). 

I think a nice German potato salad or some good quality potato chips would go great with this sandwich.  Get everything else ready.  Make drinks, set the table.  Finally, one portion at a time, heat the sliced beef in the consommé or beef jus. Pile the beef on the waiting roll, serve a little of the consommé on the side for dipping, and VOILA!

An alternate sandwich would of course be a hot roast beef sandwich, traditionally served open faced.  Good quality white bread, piled high with roast beef heated in gravy.  Also yum!

Photo courtesy of bakingbites.com.


April 8th, 2009

Beef Recipe: Prime Rib Roast and Yorkshire Pudding

By

Fabulous Sister-in-Law Chef Sandy is back!

She’s got a great recipe for a Prime Rib Roast (which we devoured at Christmastime — see photos) and Yorkshire Pudding.

primerib

This is a great idea for a wonderful Easter dinner. Seriously, it’s coming up. Follow her tips to the letter and you won’t go wrong!

That’s how I do it anyway.

Enjoy!

Prime Rib Roast and Yorkshire Pudding

Although traditionally thought of as a Christmas holiday time dish, I see no reason why not to make Yorkshire Pudding with a Prime Rib Roast for Easter.  It is a good way to use up some eggs that we are going to decorate, because my kids don’t like hard boiled eggs.  Here is my plan for the eggs:

Take the raw eggs required for the recipe and blow out the insides into a clean bowl. 

  1. Carefully punch a hole in each end of the egg with a sharp knife, and work the hole in the bottom to be about a ¼ inch in diameter.
  2. Blow hard into the smaller hole to force the egg out into your clean bowl from the larger hole.
  3. Rinse the eggs under running water, and then carefully bathe them in a bowl with about ¼ cup white vinegar and a few cups of water.
  4. Take the egg shells out of the water, let them dry on paper towels and shake any water out of the inside.
  5. To make sure they are really dry, let them sit out for a few hours before decorating with markers, stickers or whatever your imagination leads you to.  Glitter would be amazing. 
  6. To hang the eggs, there are two options:
    1. Use a fine ribbon threaded onto a tapestry needle and feed the ribbon straight thru the egg to the other side and tie a knot on the far side of the egg (usually the larger end of the egg looks better on the bottom.)  You can also put a large bead on the ribbon to use as a stop-knot.
    2. Wrap a fine thread around half of a toothpick or wooden match.  Feed the small piece of wood thru the small hole at the top of the egg and then shake it a little so that it sits perpendicular to the opening and will support the egg.
  7. Hang from pretty any branches or window locks to enjoy.
  8. These eggs, carefully treated, will last forever.  Keep the clean egg carton to put your finished creations in.

Of course Yorkshire Pudding is not really pudding, in the American sense.  More like a puffy bit of soufflé/bread made with beef drippings.  This is a very traditional accompaniment to a Rib Roast, probably due to the amount of drippings which do make themselves available with this dish.  Prepare the batter for the puddings using the recipe below. 

The tricky thing about these puddings (or any soufflé type item) is the timing.  They are beautiful and showy when they are served immediately upon removal from the oven, but you don’t have a lot of wiggle room.  They will deflate and will be a disappointment if you have to hold them.  Have your other last minute things done and only put these in the oven when the roast is out of the oven and resting.  While the puddings bake, ice your glasses and pour your beverages.  Have the appetizer courses started and plan to have everyone at the table ready to enjoy their Prime Rib Roast and Yorkshire Puddings the moment they get out of the oven.  For a rare roast, count on serving about two hours after you start the roast.  For medium or more done, adjust your timing accordingly.

The Prime Rib Roast 101 with Yorkshire Pudding recipe below is courtesy of The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook, First Edition.

For the pudding:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

6 large eggs

2 ½ cups milk

Sift together flour and salt.  Place in a large bowl; make a well and place the eggs in the center. Slowly whisk the eggs into the flour mixture until a smooth paste forms.  Gradually whisk in ½ cup milk and then the remaining 2 cups of milk.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.

For the roast:

3# prime-rib roast, first cut, trimmed and tied, at room temperature (set out 2 hours before cooking)

2 tbsp kosher salt

1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper

3 short ribs, tied

1 ½ cups dry red wine

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F, with oven rack on the lowest level.  Rub the roast all over with the salt and pepper, trying to get an even coating.  Transfer to a heavy 13 x 16 metal roasting pan, arranging the meat fat side up, on top of the short ribs.  The ribs will act as a roasting pan and will flavor the drippings.

primeribroasts1

Cook 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 and continue cooking until an instant read thermometer reads 115 for rare.  The temperature of the roast will increase 10-15 degrees after removing from the oven, so keep this in mind if you want a different doneness.   For rare, this will take about 1 hour and 25 minutes.  Use a probe thermometer or check every 10 minutes after this point to insure you do not over cook.

Let the roast rest uncovered for 30 minutes in a warm spot.  Tenting the roast will cause the crust to get soggy. Return oven temperature to 425.

Pour fat and drippings into a fat separator or glass measuring cup, set aside to let fat separate from meat juices.  Put roasting pan over medium high heat and add red wine to deglaze the pan.  Cook about 6 minutes, until reduced by half.  Place a fine sieve over a medium bowl and strain the sauce into the bowl.  Do not clean the pan. 

Making the Yorkshire Pudding:

Place ¼ cup of reserved fat from the roast into the roasting pan, and place it in the hot oven until very hot, about 5 minutes.  Remove the batter from the refrigerator and whisk well; quickly and carefully pour the batter into the hot pan and cook until the Yorkshire Pudding is crisp and golden, about 25 minutes.  Make sure it is nicely browned before removing it; it will deflate more quickly if it is not thoroughly cooked.  Cut each person a wedge of warm pudding with the crispy edge, which will help it hold its shape.  Transfer the red wine sauce to a gravy boat and serve with the Prime Rib Roast and Yorkshire Pudding.

Stay tuned tomorrow to find out what to do with those Prime Rib Roast leftovers. Your family will love you for it! – Dena


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About Me

Hi! My name is Dena P., and I love steak. In fact, I’ve been on a quest for the perfect steak for a few years now.

I love experimenting with food and I like to get my family, friends and neighbors involved. They add a lot to my cooking experience by helping me perfect techniques and sharing recipes.

Read More About Me »

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