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Best way to fry a culotte steak?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I bought a nice culotte steak today. I'm going to fry it in my new stainless steel pan and try to make some fond... but I guess my main question is: do I cook it like I would a rib eye steak (which I usually make)? Or since the cut is a little tougher, is there some special preparation?
post #2 of 7
The term culotte steak is a little vague. It's either the top sirloin cap, or sliced tri-tip. The variation in terminology is, as far as I know, NOT regional.

In any case, there is only one "right" way to pan cook a beef steak. Not that there aren't variations, and not that the "right" means much either -- which is why I put quote marks around it . I'd say it's "the American informed version of French technique," but "right" has a much better ring to it. Don't you think?

1. Season the steak and let it temper.

2. Pre heat the pan over medium-high heat.

3. Remove the pan from the heat, and immediately add a little oil to it. You may use a light oil, EVOO, or a little oil and a little butter.

4. Swirl the pan and if the oil moves very freely and covers the bottom of the pan, the pan is hot enough. If the oil does not it is not ready. In either case return the pan to the heat -- and when the oil does flow ...

5. Add the meat to the pan. Do not turn the meat, do not slide the meat, do not play with the meat, do not give the meat hard looks.

6. After about 90 seconds shake the pan, and if the meat releases from the pan and moves, it's ready to turn. If it does not shake lose, cook another 30 seconds.

7. Shake the pan again, and if the meat releases, turn it. If the meat does not release, try and loosen it by tapping it on the side with your tongs or spatula. Finally, if you can't make it release gently, take charge and use your tongs or spatula to just turn it, dammit.

8. Repeat the same searing technique for the other side. If the steak is too thick to quick through by searing the sides, or your preference is for medium to well-done meat, reduce the heat under the pan from medium-high to medium after 60 seconds, and cook another 90 seconds, then turn for a last 45 to 60 seconds.

These times are based on the assumption your steaks are about 3/4". And very important: I'm not kidding about the exactness of the times, you really have to stay on top of this kind of cooking. You can't wander away and come back when it smells right. This is "turn off the phone" cooking.

9. When the steak is cooked to medium rare (touch test) remove it. If you had to reduce the heat, you'll have to turn it and cook the first side a little more to make sure the steak is cooked evenly on both sides. Lots of turning isn't a good thing but uneven is worse.

10. That's it. You've got fond in the pan and you're ready to deglaze and make a pan reduction.

By the way: There's a thread running around somewhere with my recipe for steak with a pan deglaze, which has wonderful photographs and commentary by RPMcMurphy who followed and illustrated the recipe. If you can't find it, I'll do it for you or (with luck) he or NRatched will.

Hope this helps,
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks!! After much searching I believe I found the thread you were talking about:

Then I got lost watching all the other wonderful food pix from RPMcMurphy's blog.... wow!!

OK I did exactly what you said: pan hot, remove from heat (BTW why not add the oil while the pan is still on the head?), add oil, oil was moving freely, left it to heat some more.

• Steak in. 90 seconds
• Shake, steaks still stick. 30 seconds
• Shake, steaks come off easily. Turn

I was surprised to find them not as browned as I'd like. And it seems like my pan was really hot, maybe it wasn't hot enough after all.

Well the steak was still very good and I enjoyed it, but once again I burnt all the fond and couldn't do anything with it. :o I need to figure this "fond" thing out. But let's keep that discussion to my other thread where you've also answered, thank you very much.

PS: Culotte steak (which my supermarket spells coulotte) is in this case top sirloin cap.
post #4 of 7
Fond from a pan-broiled steaks is supposed, or at least expected, to be pretty dark. Whether your pan is too hot, your steak is over seasoned, or whether there isn't a problem at all is still up in the air for me.

We're talking about four or five minutes of cooking, maximum with a little oil in the pan, and a technique that's been used for a long time. Most food won't really carbonize that fast. So, I'm kind of leaning towards "problem of perception" as the first hypothesis. Doesn't make me right, but it's the first thing I'd like to explore.

Shall we construct a pan sauce that suits you and see how it goes next time?

Brandy, sherry, or do you want to stick with red wine?

Mushrooms, green peppercorns, or neither?

Can you get shallots?

Would you prefer to work with beef stock or broth? Or, would you like to try "Better than Bullion?"

Cream or butter finish?

Spicy? Sweet-tart? Or, rich and mellow?

We'll be making an "impromptu." That is, a dish designed for a specific diner, or in honor of a specific thing or event, by specific cooks (in this case, you and us). From the short list of options you can begin to see the range of possibilities in pan reductions. Do it a few times and you'll move from impromptu to improvisation -- and your big problem will be that you won't remember how you made your greatest successes because you didn't take notes. Everyone should have such problems.

Let's get you a better class of worries,
post #5 of 7
BDL - I noticed in your last post you mentioned " Better Than Bullion". I've looked at that product in my local market and thought it might be worthwhile to have on hand. I did notice that salt isn't the lead ingredient which makes me wonder if it might a more quaility product than most. I'd be interested in what you think or if you have some other ideas for a stock base type product as a substitute for actual stock.

post #6 of 7
You can’t beat homemade stock as a vehicle for stock reductions because of homemade’s freshness, depth of flavor and total control over salt levels.

People who are serious enough about cooking to start making their own stocks making are sophisticated enough to want to be curious about espagnole and want to make demi-glace as quickly as possible. However, there’s are more useful reductions called glace de viande and glace de poulet which are more versatile pantry products.

There is a quality-hierarchy of concentrates. At the top is homemade. Beef, veal or chicken stocks are reduced until syrups – usually by a ratio of about 10:1.

The next step down are high quality commercially prepared glaces made for restaurants, caterers and other commercial users -- these are time savers but are also expensive and hard to find; they’re often sold frozen and often made to a slightly higher concentration. Considering their price and relative lack of availability you might as well forget about them. They’re only in this list for the sake of completeness.

The next step down is a slight diminution of quality and a big drop in price typified by professional and semi-professional products such as the "Gold" series made by “More Than Gourmet.” These products, and products very similar to them are incredibly widespread and probably account for the vast majority of glace and demi-glace used in restaurant saucing – which is a lot. These are made to an approximately 20:1 concentration. Since they’re relatively available at a semi-reasonable price, I might as well add that More Than Gourmet doesn’t make a straight beef, but instead markets something called Demi-Glace Gold which has some espagnole in it for depth. But call it what they will, it’s a glace and not a demi-glace by virtue of its concentration.

At just a quarter step below in quality, but significantly more available and reasonably priced is Better than Bullion and its semi-commerical generic mimics (e.g., Chef’s Review) – the real subject of your question. And you thought I’d never get there.

With a certain amount of farting around, Gold and BtB are significantly better than the canned and boxes “broths” and “stocks” you can find in most supermarkets as sauce components. As a base for straight stock, they’re about equal – falling in between low-sodium and regular in terms of saltiness. There are negative aspects to Gold and BtB as well. The most two most important are the salt levels, already somewhat discussed; and a certain “tinniness,” common with overly concentrated, long-preserved foods.

When it comes to sauce making, compared to stocks and broths (not that there's much if any distinction between those as they come off a store’s shelves) glace not only adds flavor but structure as well. In the case of the Golds or BtB, the cook works around the saltiness and tinniness by lowering the salt in previous layers, using masking flavors (such as wine and aromatics), and cooking the over-concentrated quality off.

BtB is not ideal, but it's an acceptable path to particular destinations which many home cooks would otherwise not explore. For instance: Add 2 tsp of BtB to a cup of wine, reduce slightly with some shallot and parsley, and create an intensely beefy-winey product, hinting at a bordelaise. You can’t be do that with stock without first creating at least a demi; while you can make the BtB preparation on the fly.

I try and keep glace de viande and glace de poulet roti, or their pre-prepared equivalents in the fridge, but typically have both or neither. Sound familiar?

Bottom line: You can work with BtB (and Gold). It's not homemade glace de viande, but it's a lot better than going without -- especially if you like to work quickly and/or improvisationally with fond based sauces.

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Well it's a little more actually? 2mn on each side, then reduce heat and at least 1 more mn on each side, probably more like 2 more mn on each side. So cooking the steak takes... 6 to 8 mn?

Heck yeah! Let'ssssssss DO IT!! :bounce:

I love red wine. I have sherry. I don't think I have any brandy. I have cognac too....? I also have dry marsala.

I always have all three in my pantry, love to use them all.

OK this is where my weakness will show: I never cook with any of those, and have no idea how to make them or which ones to buy?

Not really sure? Maybe I should experiment with both?

I like Spicy. I also like rich and mellow. I don't really want my steak sweet.
I can't wait!!!
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