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Improving the usual meat

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

First off, hi! I can't believe I didn't find this forum sooner. 

So, I'm not new to cooking, but I would like to one-up my usual repertoire, as I have a date. I have a few questions, please keep in mind I'm on an engineering college budget!

 

1.) How do you accent the natural steak flavor without masking it? I dislike 'sweet' or over-flavored meats, I'm just going for a savory flavor without covering the meat. I usually just warm, kosher salt for ~45 minutes, wash off, dry, olive oil, salt and pepper, then grill. I was thinking rosemary, but it seems very aromatic to have directly on the meat. Is it possible to 'smoke' the rosemary on the grill with the meat, imparting just a touch of flavor?

 

2.) Assuming I have no access to wine (Again, college, don't have my at-home supply!) does anyone have advice for or against a simple reduction? I dearly hope my steak won't need it, but just in case! This could also impart the small herb savor.

 

3.) Shallots, garlic, and onions. I haven't had the pleasure of using shallots- how much milder are they than their cousins? A mild garlic/onion flavor is useful, but a whack of onion isn't something a date calls for. Do they caramelize similarly to onions, becoming sweet?

 

4.) Again, since I cannot obtain wine to pair with my meal, what works as a non-alcoholic replacement? Something inexpensive and simple, if possible. Just, better than water or less basic than a soft drink (blegh).

 

5.) Here's an odd one- have any of you paired cinnamon and peanut butter? I (accidentally) discovered how warm and fall spice-ish this combination is, but I can't for the life of me work it in to a cohesive dish/dessert.!

 

6.) Flare ups. I have no professional (or even close) chefs to ask. Are they intended, what purpose do they serve, and how can I replicate for that little extra 'oooh' factor?

 

Thank you! I'm sure I will have many more questions- cooking is absolutely my passion.

post #2 of 16

Steak is a passion of mine.  I've been on a lifelong quest to perfect my steak cooking ability myself, and have ended up discovering that what matters the most is the cooking technique (creating a beautiful crust, reaching the right internal temp etc...) and the absolute perfect amount of seasoning. 


1) That's a tough one. Many will say that a good steak only needs salt and pepper, and I often agree. I know some die-hard steak fans who'll tell you a great steak doesn't even need any salt or any pepper. I personally love salt and pepper on my steak, and use some just minutes before cooking the steak, and a bit more after the steak has been rested, sliced (if sliced), and plated. I don't like Kosher salt, and I prefer using fine sea salt (I like La Baleine) before cooking, and fleur de sel when plating. Freshly ground black pepper before and after cooking. 


I love rosemary and have big rosemary bush in my backyard, but I would never use it on steak. If you're going to flavor a steak beyond S&P, I recommend an excellent quality butter, some fresh thyme and some garlic. If you pan fry or pan roast the steak then you can speed baste it with butter that infuses with the thyme and smashed garlic cloves. You can also use the thyme to brush the butter on the steak while it cooks. If you grill you can brush the steak with the thyme. Another thing you can do is add a pat of butter on top of the steak just before serving. 


If you insist on rosemary then you could try just placing it on top of the steak while it's grilling, or placing it next to the steak on top of a small piece of aluminum foil. But... yeah I wouldn't go for rosemary personally. 


2) I wouldn't use herb in a reduction for steak. Sometimes I make rather-advanced demi-glace-based pan sauce with cracked green pepper... but often my favorite is the simplest jus: after you remove the steak from the pan, and while it rests, return the pan to the fire, "pince" the "sucs", which in French means cook the fond, the caramelized bits at the bottom of the pan, then deglaze with water. Yes you can use wine, or white wine, or vermouth, or nearly any liquid that may strike your fancy, but trust me, water works great for this, and will leave the flavor of your steak intact, even in the reduction. Now a jus like that won't have body, it will be very thin, but if you do it right it will be very very dark brown, a bit salty and PACKED with concentrated steak flavor. There may not be much of it, but you don't need much of it, about a teaspoon or two per steak. Liquid gold. 


3) Shallots are absolutely wonderful, much fancier than onions, and I would definitely use them if I made the demi-glace pan reduction sauce. I wouldn't caramelize them though, I don't need more sweetness on my steak, and I've got enough maillard reaction going on the steak's crust. I would just barely sweat them a bit and infuse them in whatever liquid I used to deglaze the pan for that sauce, which could be white wine, red wine, or even cognac.


4) Nothing better than water IMO. Less is more. 


5) Huh... here you lost me. I suppose we're no longer talking about steak.


6) If you deglaze with cognac you can flambé it: let it heat in the pan a bit and tilt the pan so its vapors catch on fire from the flame of the stove. There are two goals: 1) to accelerate the burning off of the alcohol (it's often considered undesirable to have actual alcohol content in a finished sauce, although of course even that's debatable) and 2) to show off your mad skillz in front of your friends or in-laws or whoever you're showing off (huh... cooking) for. wink.gif


One thing you didn't mention and that is paramount is to rest the steak after cooking but before slicing and plating. The larger the piece the longer it needs to rest. That really makes a huge difference in the end result. 


Now look at what you've done: I have to go buy some bone-in rib-eyes!!!


Edited by French Fries - 11/1/14 at 10:13pm
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

I...

This is amazing. I have found heaven on the internet.

THANK YOU! I will certainly try the jus, and stick with the usual S&P. I shall also experiment with shallots and other such fun things (cognac) at home, but for now, my date shall be wowed. Or wooed. Or both, hopefully. And yes, I always rest a steak before cutting. I'm not one of those moisture-losing impatient heathens. Thank you again, kind soul!

post #4 of 16

Are cooking in a skillet or on a grill?

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

Grill. I don't have my skillet with me.

post #6 of 16

To increase the beef flavor you can use beef fat instead of olive oil.

Also, although to make a proper brown stock (that will help you to make some tasty reductions) takes many hours, there're some ways to make it quickly with some bones and veggies.

Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by ordo View Post
 

To increase the beef flavor you can use beef fat instead of olive oil.

I tried that once and I didn't like the result. Not sure what I did wrong... it tasted.. a bit nasty. :eek: Here's a thread I made about it a while ago: http://www.cheftalk.com/t/68427/do-you-cook-your-steak-in-beef-fat


Edited by French Fries - 11/2/14 at 8:54am
post #8 of 16

TheSilverhead, the recipe that French Fries assumes you are cooking your steak in a pan if you are grilling your steak you won't have the fond on the bottom of the pan to caramelize and deglaze creating your jus with.

 

If you are grilling then I would just consider brushing the steak with an herb butter at the end and again while resting.  While melting the butter,  infuse it with some roughly chopped garlic, some fresh thyme, and (sorry to disagree with French Fries) but a bit of rosemary.  I would strain it all out after they have infused the butter.  This will give you a nice subtle enhancement without the concern of the rosemary overpowering your meat, but since it is grilled it will definitely stand up to a bit of rosemary.

post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by French Fries View Post
 

I tried that once and I didn't like the result. Not sure what I did wrong... it tasted.. a bit nasty. :eek: Here's a thread I made about it a while ago: http://www.cheftalk.com/t/68427/do-you-cook-your-steak-in-beef-fat

 

May be a problem of getting used to the flavor. May be the variety and quality of the beef and the fat. But i don't render the fat. I get a piece of fat and pass it over the hot irons using a fork. Idem on the grill pan. Then, there goes the steak. I tried many methods and the worst was the butter basting so usual in top restaurantes outside Argentina.

Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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post #10 of 16

@ordo , what I wouldn't give to go to Argentina and try one of those steaks!! I wonder what you mean by passing the piece of fat over the hot irons. I'm not sure what hot irons you're talking about? And on the grill pan.. does that mean you rub a piece of fat against the bottom of the pan? Is that a piece of fat that you cut off the the exterior of the steak? Maybe it's time for me to try that technique again.

 

There's a French documentary that is coming out in a few days I believe called Steak (R)evolution, where they talk about raising cattle and making great steaks, from Kobe to Scotland to France to Argentina... I was soooo sad to hear that the teaser starts with the words "Today in France we have lost the notion of what a good steak is. We no longer know what that is." :( I really look forward to watching that documentary. 

 

 

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by French Fries View Post
 

@ordo , what I wouldn't give to go to Argentina and try one of those steaks!!

 

I am graced, I live in South Dakota, the very heart of the midwest, and have friends that own ranches and just happen to owe me a favor in the form of a prime new york strip or two. :D

 

All of these sound good. I'll try the pan and jus method at home, and the grill+butter here.

post #12 of 16

FF: I do really think you have extraordinary beef there in Northamerica. The times of Argentina being the greatest beef producer of the world have passed time ago.

Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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post #13 of 16
I use a little bit of lemon pepper whenever I get the chance to cook chicken. Have you tried that, oregano of basil?
post #14 of 16

I don't care what the purists say, cheap fake truffle oil goes great on steak, and your potatoes and pasta.  Risotto too, but then again saffron is better here.  Ditto everything else mentioned.

 

For a while McCormicks made a blend called sweet smoky pepper that was just out of this world on eggs and great on steak also. Hungarian paprika, wish I could find a mildly smoked version.

 

With cheaper cuts I like to do a red wine and balsamic reduction with ground coriander (seed).

 

 

Rick

post #15 of 16

I'm sure most here know this, to s+p an hour ahead of time.  I'll also then put the steaks in front of a fan to skin over for a real effective sear.  I've also been using some pink Himalayan salt that has a mineral content with some funky flavor.

 

And BTW welcome aboard TS.  You'll here a lot of exotic and otherwise unknowntoyou recipes and ingredients mentioned around here.  I have a list working to keep track.

 

 

Rick

post #16 of 16

Its best to salt one hour ahead yes, but if you can try one day ahead its reallllllly nice(keep it inside the fridge elevated in a rack and put a dish bellow). And before cooking make sure that the steak is bone dry(salting one day before really helps here) so you can get the best possible sear, and of course add whatever you want for the flavor. And be sure to keep the out of the fridge ahead of time so they are at room temp before cooking(how much depends on the thickness).

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