Thursday, August 2, 2012

Carnivore's Delight

Steak – Glorious Steak!
Growing up in the Midwest, beef was a constant on our family menus. My dad was the master griller. No matter what time of year, rain or shine or even in the dead of winter with snow knee deep, he would light up the grill.  As a child, I grew accustomed to savoring a juicy steak. One of my go-to recipes for steak is something I learned from my husband’s wife number one.  Get your mind out of the gutter, no “Big Love” action going on here, no “Sister Wives”, just a solid and friendly relationship between my husband’s first wife and me.  I so admire her culinary abilities - she is a true gourmand and a published food and travel writer. When I say, “She’s a true foodie” I mean, she really is! I think she has every issue of Gourmet Magazine (bound) nestled on her shelves. We’ve been the lucky recipients of her culinary talent on many occasions. She is also my connection for authentic French sea salt. When my stash gets low, I pick up the phone and call for a refill.  The one dish that stands out for me is her steaks. Oh, they are so juicy and flavorful.   On a visit to her home she made us dinner, it was arresting! So simple and yet a culinary explosion of flavor with every slice. The seasonings - that’s the key to a great steak -salt, pepper, rosemary and olive oil. (I would write EVOO, but that’s too Rachel Ray for me). Four basic seasonings, how hard is that. Well, I left out one important step: letting the meat rest with the seasonings for a while is the key.

With every forkful, the rich flavor of the steaks was beautiful, and the company was quite amusing.  We’ve had several wonderful meals prepared by wife number one, but this one always stands out as one of my favorites.  I prefer the accompaniment of the classic side, baked potato with sour cream and green onions. The two together are a symphony of culinary harmony. 

At the top of my list of steaks to savor is the Allen Brother’s filet. I discovered this gem from a former restaurateur client. The Allen Brother’s steak, (if you can afford them) is one of the best steaks out there, hands-down. OMG, I don’t think there is a better steak anywhere. Seriously, you won’t need a steak knife for any reason; the meat is so tender, as they say “Like butta!” If you’re in Sarasota, there is another (more affordable) contender for a great steak dinner, Karl Ehmer’s Alpine Steakhouse. Guy Fieri featured their house specialty “Turducken” on his Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The filet from Karl Ehmer’s is aged perfectly and fabulously tender.  These two filets are splurges, but for special occasions, well worth the expense. The Allen Brother’s steaks are crazy expensive – four, 8 oz. 2” thick filets are $154.95 before tax and shipping.  Ehmer’s filets runs about $28 for two of the same weight and thickness. I love the fact that I can tell the butcher at Ehmer’s that I want a three-finger steak!  If they don’t have any pre-cut, they will open a new tenderloin and hand-cut just for me!

SRQ Foodies Steak a la Number One Wife
1 strip or filet per person (if the strip steak is big enough, we split one)
Fresh Rosemary
Olive Oil

Coat both sides of steak with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Strip the leaves off the rosemary sprig, and sprinkle on both sides; I generally use two sprigs, one for each side. Too much and I’m sure you know you’ll be tasting soap.

Let rest for at least one hour, 
and grill. I use my Le Creuset grill pan on the stove a lot. Sear one side for 5 minutes, then turn, and sear the other side for 4 minutes. Turn again, this time laying cross the grill for those delicious sear marks, for about 2 minutes. Then once again on the other side. We prefer our steaks medium rare to medium, depending on the thickness of the meat. Let rest for 5 minutes once the steaks are done to seal in the juices. Enjoy!  

If I am cooking filets, I generally cook each side between 4 to 6 minutes, and I set the timer to make sure I don’t forget. There is nothing worse than an over done steak, it’s an atrocity! 

By the way, a really funny story about wife number one, (we’ll call her CB) and her food fetish – when we went to Chicago to visit my stepdaughter, CB was there as well. We all went for my stepdaughter’s baby shower. Before the festivities, we had a family evening at home, and wife number one brought a full Serrano ham for us to enjoy. Yes, on the table was a very large cured leg of Spanish pig. CB also brought a contraption that holds the leg in place so you can slice it easily. That’s not even the funniest part; she carried it on the plane! When she went through TSA at the airport, the agents got a peek at the body part in her luggage. I can’t stop laughing even as I write this two years later! It was so funny to hear her tell us the story. So, the story goes, as the TSA agents are scanning the luggage through the x-ray machine, here comes “CB’s” luggage. The agent stops the machine, runs it back and forth on the conveyor belt, and then calls all the other agents over.  Several agents staring at the screen looking at a body part, and CB started explaining that it is a “Serrano” ham, and she’s taking it to Chicago for a party. The agents looking in amazement tell her that since it’s been sliced into, they’ll have to test for a bomb.  I’m telling you I can’t stop giggling! She proceeds to explain that the test had better not harm the ham, because her daughter is pregnant, and she’s taking this to the shower.  CB also regaled us with stories of her driving to college alumni events with the ham in tow... I really like her – she makes me laugh! We have fun together.  

So the moral of this story is... if you’re in the position of being second wife, hope that first wife is a great cook! Oh, and don’t be surprised if the TSA agents look at you a little funny when you carry animal limbs in your suitcase.

Happy Eating!
SRQ Foodie

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