June 18th, 2010

Steak. You Know Dad Wants It.


It’s Father’s Day on Sunday. Got good plans for your old man?

Well, you can’t go wrong cooking him a steak dinner. I’m serious. He’ll love it.

The Houston Chronicle had an article recently giving some great grilling advice from the experts. Check it out — and then treat Dad to something special.

Happy Father’s Day!

Photo courtesy of Steve Giralt, Food Network Magazine via Chron.com.

March 30th, 2010

How to Buy Prime Steak: A Guide to Steak Cuts, Grades & Aging


Tips and thoughts from a wonderful chef friend of mine . . . he knows what he’s talking about!

You cannot help but to look at two different steaks in the store and wonder why one is 3 times as expensive as the other. Often times we tend to accept a lower quality steak just so it doesn’t hit our wallets so bad. However, there are some good tips to help you pick the best steak regardless of the price points.

You have lots of options as a steak lover, each with their own pros and cons.  The first hurdle we are going to look at, because, honestly, it is the problem we usually confront with all of our decisions – price.

Cuts Make a Difference

Lots of factors affect how much a steak costs, like the cut of meat, the type of feed the animal ate and even the breed of the cow itself.  The cuts break down from most to least expensive in this way:  filet mignon, ribeye, strip and sirloin.

There are lots of other cuts but we won’t worry about those since they don’t really fall into the “steak” category most of us traditionally think of.  Each of these cuts come from a particular muscle in the animal, the filet from the tenderloin (which runs through the hindquarter of the animal and through the short loin and sirloin cuts), the ribeye from the rib section and the strip from the short loin.  The Porterhouse and T-bone come from here as well but we will cover those later.  And finally, the sirloin from the sirloin.

These selections all make ideal steak choices for one important reason – tenderness.  Muscles that get used more frequently tend to be tough.  That is why you don’t often see steaks from the round (rear leg) section thrown on the grill.  They taste great, but you will be chewing for a long time.  In order of tenderness the steaks above go as follows, filet mignon (from the tenderloin, tender-loin, get it?) ribeye, strip and sirloin.

This follows our price list above.  There is a direct correlation between how tender a steak is and how much it costs.  Other cuts you might see in the store are flank, plate, chuck or round steaks.  But these will all be very tough if cooked in the traditional “steak” methods.

Another thing to keep in mind is that muscles that are used more frequently, and are therefore tougher, also happen to have a more robust flavor.  This has to do with more blood circulation through the muscle while the animal is alive.  Chuck, or shoulder as it would be called to those of us non-butchers, can be extremely tough.  But it is a beefier tasting beef.

So back to our steaks.  There is nothing that compares to the soft, velvety mouth-feel of a filet, but more than a few steak enthusiasts lament its subtle beef flavor and prefer a ribeye or strip because it offers more of that classic beef taste.  Sirloin at the bottom end of the toughness scale (and still quite tender, really) has the best flavor of the steaks.  Ribeye and strip tend to give you the best balance in terms of cost, flavor and tenderness.

USDA Grading – What is It?

So now you know where the steaks come from, but what about all those words advertisers stick to them like Angus or Prime?  All meat is inspected by the USDA for wholesomeness.  This means if it is sold, it is legally fit for human consumption.  Unfortunately, that is a pretty low bar, so the USDA has a grading system.

Grading is a voluntary system that beef producers allow their meats to be graded on in several categories.  The long and short of it is a delicate balance of fat to lean meat, plus the age of the animal.

The younger the animal and the higher the fat marbling of the meat, the higher (and therefore more expensive) the grade.  The only grades you want to consider, (even though there are eight of them, the bottom few named “canner” and “cull” – yum, right?) are prime, choice and select.

Prime Filets
Prime can be very expensive and has beautiful fat marbling in a very tender steak. Steak image courtesy of KansasCitySteaks.com

Choice Steaks
Choice offers a great value of marbling and tenderness at a fair price.

Select Steak

Select has much less marbling. (Used by permission of USDA.gov)

But, remember, you only want to go with the most tender cuts.  Don’t be taken in by names like Angus or Wagyu.  They typically mean much higher prices.  Certain breeders of cattle specialize in one breed, like Angus, Black Angus or the ridiculously expensive Wagyu (this is a breed of cow from Kobe, Japan, where the animals have beer with their breakfast and at a minimum one hour of massage a day.  It can also cost well over $100 per lb.).  These breeder associations have created their own system to market their cows with their own standards, not the USDA’s.  Because of that, they can charge a pretty penny.

Dry Aging or Wet Aging?

Another component to look for is aging.  I’m gonna get a little technical and gross here (and I mean very little technical).  When an animal is butchered the muscles go through rigor mortis where it becomes tough, and over time the muscles soften.  This freshly butchered meat is called green meat.  You don’t want that.  It’s not actually green by the way, the term green refers to age, not color.

Green meat is tough and chewy.  The muscles need to relax before you try cooking them.  A reputable supplier only sells meat that has been aged properly.  There are two ways to age:  dry and wet.

Dry aging is expensive and very difficult to find.  The meat is hung in a temperature and humidity controlled environment and allowed to rest for a set period of time.  Eleven days or so has proven to be the magic number here where tenderness no longer increases.  One of the reasons dry aging is so expensive is that you have considerable moisture loss and therefore a higher cost per pound.

Wet aging occurs when meat is packed into vacuum-sealed packaging and allowed to rest in its own liquid (sounds worse than it is).  Many consumers prefer wet aging because dry aging sometimes imparts a musty, basementy aroma.

Where Can I Buy Quality Steaks?

So now you know what cut to look for and what grade you want.  So where do you go?  You should look for a butcher like you do a mechanic.  A good one is hard to find.  Once you find one, ask questions like, “Where do they get their beef from?” “Is it grain fed?” “How is their meat aged?”

A good butcher will answer all of these questions.  Shop around and go to Web sites for information.  There is plenty out there.

Hopefully this gives you some food for thought!

March 24th, 2010

Better Beef


My son is a Type 1 diabetic. So, I get all the publications from the American Diabetes Association. Their magazine, Diabetes Forecast, is awesome. It’s got great health information and recipes.

This article about choosing the healthiest beef (hence, steak) is a great tool. It explains a lot about how to get the most out of your beef-eating experiences.

And don’t we all want that in the end?

These heart-healthy steaks certified by the American Heart Association are some of my faves. Try ’em yourself!

And check out that Diabetes Forecast article here. Your heart, your body and your taste buds will thank you for it!

Photo courtesy of American Diabetes Association.

March 4th, 2010

No More Steak Mistakes!


Fatima cooks steaks that are tough and overdone.

Emeril can help with that.

Here are his tips for steaks that are just right:

Emeril’s Tips for Cooking the Perfect Steak:

1) Steaks must be cooked so that the entire surface caramelizes to form a rich thick crust.

2) Grill Pan: Bone in Steaks should be grilled outdoors or on an indoor grill pan to achieve maximum contact between heat source and meat

3) Cast Iron Skillet: Boneless Rib Eye and Strip steaks are the best for pan searing

Emeril talks more about this in his episode about steak mistakes on “Emeril Green” — his show on Planet Green, a Discovery company. Hey, I’d take advice from him. The man knows his way around a kitchen, grill, smoker, wok, convection oven, fryer…

For more insight from Chef Emeril Lagasse on this subject, check out PlanetGreen.com.

Photo and tips courtesy of PlanetGreen.com.

January 28th, 2010

The Big Steak List


Okay, now this is awesome.

Our friends over at Science-of-Food.com have posted “The Big Steak List” which includes every which way for garnishing/cooking steaks imaginable. About 180 ways, actually.

It includes sauces, too. Oh, and a little introduction to further explain some of the terms used.

It’s a treasure trove to go back to when you’re in a rut, want a steak, but want something different.

Check it out!

The Big Steak List

Delectable steak photo courtesy of Ed Alcock at Travel.NYTimes.com.

January 21st, 2010

More Thoughts on Steak Doneness


We’ve all ordered a steak the way we want it and then found out the chef had a different idea of what “medium rare” means.

Here’s a guide from “bis” at www.Everything2.com on what the doneness labels mean . . .

So, you’ve gone through life ordering your steakmedium“, because you didn’t know what “rare” or “medium well” meant, have you? Well, you need not do this anymore, for here is your guide to the doneness of steak:

  • rare: 140°F (60°C), center of the steak is very red and cool
  • medium rare: 150°F (65°C), center of the steak is red and warm
  • medium: 160°F (71°C), center of the steak is pink and hot
  • medium well: 165°F (74°C), center of the steak is pinkish and hot
  • well done: 170+°F (77+°C), steak is thoroughly cooked

Of course, you might still order medium (*cough*wuss!*cough*) after all of that, but hey, at least now you’re educated, eh?

You can check out Everything2.com for even more ideas on steak doneness. May the fork be with you!

Photo courtesy of NoSaladAsAMeal.com.

January 14th, 2010

How Do You Thaw a Steak?


It’s an age-old question.

Well, it’s as old as refrigeration. And that’s old.

What is the best way to thaw a steak?

There are many schools of thought.

Some, like AlmostLuver over at Help.com, says “Put the package in really warm water…keep it wrapped, though. Also, you can thaw it in the microwave…most microwaves have a defrost setting. :) Good luck!!”

Others, like Sully, say, “The best way to thaw a steak (or any meat) is to put it in the fridge the day before. It will never get warm enough this way for bacteria to start becoming active. They are already in the meat. You want them dormant until cooking. Thats the healthiest way. The worst way is the microwave. If you are needing it thawed quickly, then put it in warm water. Warm means 145 Fahrenheit. As soon as it is thawed, cook it or refrigerate it. Never re-freeze meat! It will sour much quicker if you do.”

I, personally, like to go by the guidelines given by the Kansas City Steak Company.  They say this. . .

Thawing Instructions

Do thaw your meats in the refrigerator, because it enhances the flavor by preserving the natural tenderness. It will take at least 24 hours for steaks and at least 3 days for roasts to thaw depending on the thickness.

Don’t use a microwave or soak your meats in water to hasten thawing. Microwaving and soaking affect the rich flavor and tenderness that make these steaks and roasts so special.

Now that sounds like good advice.

Another good resource is this fabulous article over at ehow.com.  It even has cool vintage photos of an old, old freezer. Awesomeness.

What do you think?

Photo courtesy of ehow.com.

December 18th, 2009

Choose Your Steak Wisely, My Friend



Is that not a gorgeous cut of beef?

Oh, the colors! The marbling! The thickness!

But all steaks are not created equal. Just because a steak is a steak does not mean it’s a GREAT steak.

Our friend-in-beef Greg Henry over at SippitySup.com gives us a nice, solid primer on what makes a tasty steak — and what does not.

Oh, and that photo you see here? It’s his. I’m jealous because that means he probably got to eat it after he took the picture.

And since he loves us so much, he gives us his recipe for Pan-Seared Ribeye with Glazed Shallots.

My mouth is watering.

Just go here to check it all out!

Photo courtesy of SippitySup.com.

November 18th, 2009

Tips for a Great Steak


So you think you’ve got it down, this whole grilling thing. I mean, you just fire up the grill, stick on your steaks, turn them and eyeball when they’re done, right?

You COULD do it that way. But you might be disappointed with the results.

Here’s a handy dandy tip center to help you get the most out of each cut of steak.  Did you know that cooking a filet mignon is a bit different than cooking, say, a T-bone?


The Kansas City Steak Company gives us some pointers on the best way to cook each cut of steak here.

Here’s a sample . . . read it, follow it, enjoy!

Preparing Filet Mignon

  • This cut is so tender that it should never be cooked beyond medium-rare. The longer you cook it, the less tender and drier it becomes 

  • Use a dry, high heat method such as grilling, roasting, pan-frying, or broiling 

  • Cutting into the meat to check doneness lets juice escape. Use the touch method. Touch the meat. If it feels soft and leaves an imprint, it is rare. If it is soft but slightly resilient, it is medium-rare. When it feels firm, it is overdone 

  • Filets are a thick steak, so grill the sides as well as the top and bottom

Excerpt and photo courtesy of KansasCitySteaks.com.

November 17th, 2009

Steak for Thanksgiving?


Oh, yes. Steak for Thanksgiving.

Why not? If the pilgrims had had access to a juicy ribeye you can bet your bottom dollar (or gold coin or whatever their currency was) that they would’ve jammed out on a nice, big steak.

Alas, turkey was the meat of the day. And although I do enjoy good turkey, must we always be followers?

I liked this discussion thread I read over at Chowhound.com. And if you’re considering steak for YOUR Thanksgiving meal this year, read on!


Steak for Thanksgiving

We’re going non-traditional this year with grilled rib eye; nice, fat, corn-fed, dry-aged, 1lb. steaks per person, grilled over mesquite. What do you suggest for side dishes? Only requirement is that they pair well with a big red wine. Thanks!


First off: what’s steak without potatoes? ?Baked potatoes are easy and can be left to their own designs, but they’re fairly uninteresting – although smearing them with butter, kosher salt, and cracked black pepper and then wrapping them in foil to bake sure helps. ?Smashed red potatoes with herbs and a dash of citrus zest are great; smashed gold potatoes with gobs of butter and cracked black pepper are also great; and you can’t go wrong with whipped Idahoes. ?Oven fries are good, too, roasted golden brown and covered in salt and herbs, but that might be difficult for a large group.?Corn:?A bit of a southwest twist never hurt corn. Saute some red onion and garlic on medium-ish heat until they start to soften, add in some chopped red bell pepper, throw the corn in once the pepper starts to cook through, and then pull it after a couple minutes. Toss it all in a big bowl with some salt & pepper, lime juice, a bit of cumin, and some chopped fresh cilantro. ?Sweet potatoes:?Another southwest suggestion: rather than traditional candied yams, make a hash of these with red onion, red bell pepper, some chili powder (I prefer chipotle or ancho for the smoky flavor, but guajillo is good too), cumin, and coriander, and salt and pepper. ?Green beans:?I see no reason to mess with tradition here – slow cooked with some bacon works well.?Asparagus:?As long as you’ve got the grill lit up, no reason not to toss some asparagus on. It’s easy and fast to cook, and you can gussy it up with some lemon juice and fresh grated Parmesan.?Salad:?Something bold with a strong vinaigrette is probably a good idea. I’d look for pears and red onion with red wine vinegar if you lean southwest on the above sides, or if you want something that’s a bit sweeter, head for balsamic with walnuts and feta. ?Hope some of that helps — most of it is stuff I make on a regular basis and I can vouch for pairing it with steak. 😀

Discussion thread courtesy of Chowhound.com.

Photo courtesy of Hardrock.com.

October 15th, 2009

Tips: Steak on a Charcoal Grill


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!


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.

September 4th, 2009

How to Ruin a Burger – Why, Oh Why?


Ed Levine knows good food.  And this Labor Day weekend I plan to cook some burgers for friends and family.

I don’t want to mess this up . . . so he’s going to help. Why on earth would you chance ruining a perfectly great burger???


Here are his warnings against making the 6 most common ways to ruin a burger.

1. Not Sticking to Salt Plus Beef: Use Kosher salt (and pepper!) on both sides of the beef patty before slapping it onto the grill. Salt is a glorious thing for red meat-it draws out the natural juices and helps with the charring. Try to avoid turkey, bison or other alternative meat options, which have a much higher risk of moisture and flavor deficiency. Don’t get crazy here, just stick with beef. Motz even says, “if it’s not beef, it’s not a burger.” Here is Bobby Flay’s recipe for the perfect beef burger.

2. Bad Beef-to-Bun Balance: There’s no hard-and-fast ratio for beef-to-bun balance. It’s like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said in ?Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964) “I know it when I see it.” In the case of beef-to-bun balance, taste it. Beef-to-bun balance all depends on your patty size. If you’re cooking up a thin patty, don’t use a jumbo bun-you don’t want a mouthful of bread and hardly any meat, do you? When in doubt, make your patties bigger or stack a double burger. It’s bettern to err on the side of more meat.

3. Condiment Overload: Building a burger with “everything” is a huge mistake. Avoid the garbage pail approach. In most cases, going beyond onion and ketchup (arguably the most popular condiment) masks the beef taste and creates an absurd flavor profile. Seriously, a pastrami burger? Pastrami is not a condiment. However, we will make one exception for Fatty Melts-when grilled cheeses become condiments.

4. Wasting Precious Burger Juices: If you’re cooking the burgers over a flame, pressing down on them will send the precious meat juices straight into the coals. Those juices are valuable-they belong in your mouth. While it’s very tempting to apply pressure with a spatula, don’t. Unless you want a dry hockey puck. Sometimes they do it on TV, but just close your eyes.

5. Overcooking: This should be a crime recognized by the federal government. For the popular medium-rare, grill the meat exactly three minutes on one side (keeping the grill lid closed) and two minutes on the other. If you’re going to add cheese, let it melt on top for another minute (and keep that cover closed!).  We like our burgers medium rare, so much we’ve even sent them back at restaurants when they go beyond medium.

6. Machine-Formed Patties: If you really want to ruin your burger, try a machine-formed frozen patty! No, don’t. While making every ingredient from scratch is not necessary (see: Heston Blumenthal’s Blumenburger) try to form your own patties from ground chuck (80 percent lean is good) purchased at your nearest market or better yet, butcher.

Photo and excerpt courtesy of food.yahoo.com.

September 3rd, 2009

Chef Sandy’s Steak Primer



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


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 4th, 2009

Three More Ways to Love Your Steak



Kathy Maister over at StartCooking.com has some good advice on cooking a great steak.

I always listen up when someone with experience gives me some pointers. Saves me the aggravation of making the same mistakes. It’s how we EVOLVE, people. Right?

Kathy tells us here the best ways to fry, oven roast and grill your steaks. And pay particular attention to the comments from others at the end. Some of them contain some real gems. People are so creative!

Try them out and see what YOU think!

Photo courtesy of StartCooking.com.


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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 »

Steak Widget