Saturday, October 14, 2006

Eat Red Meat in November, Minstrel's Famous Blackened Steak

The first tuesday in November I am hoping to eat red meat to celebrate the Republican loss of control of Congress. Last night on the NewsHour they had their usual feature of Mark Sheilds and David Brooks. While acknowledging that things can turn on a single event or issue both of them projected that the Democrats would take both houses. Makes me hungry.

I love red meat. I love beef. I'm pretty picky about it. I'm also lucky enough to know some folks that free graze cattle on government and reservation lands out here. It's just a better, safer product than the penned up for its entire short miserable life stuff you buy in the stores. I also have some neighbors who do back yard cows. It's not cheaper, it's much better. If you're one of the poor city folks who can't make friends with a medium or small scale rancher, if there isn't any 4H action going on near you, make friends with your butcher (that means get out of the supermarket and find yourself a butcher) and tell him what you intend to do with the steak. He should help you find the right grade of meat.

My favorite way to cook a steak is to blacken it. The spicy bittersweet crust over the rich, very rare meat is carniverous heaven. When I do this I go for either a Porterhouse cut, or the Rib Eye. I want it thick. 1 1/2" is about perfect for this style of cooking.

The first thing to do in the morning is to take the meat out of the refridgerator. You want it to be room temperature when you season and cook it. The cooking process is going to be fast and if the meat is cold you will have a totally raw, still cold patch in the center. Room temperature meat avoids that.

The biggest part of this recipe is the coating of spices. I used to use Paul Prudhomme's Magic® products but since he got all famous and shit his stuff is totally overpriced. Thank goodness the FDA requires the ingredients be listed on the bottle. I took about four tries to get this down. It's not his anymore, it's mine. Feel free to juggle any of the proportions to your own personal taste.

Minstrel's Magic Stuff

Equal Parts (with one part being the basic unit of measure here since I don't know how many steaks you're cooking)

Kosher Salt
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder

Half Parts
Coarse Black Pepper
Italian Herb Mixture (McCormick has a good one and when I make up a batch of this I call one full size spice bottle a half part)

Quarter Part
Curry Powder
Cayenne Pepper (don't be afraid of the cayenne here, the flash cooking will sweeten it up and take the edge off the heat, of course, if you are a wimp about spices just admit you're a weakling and reduce the amount)
Anise Seed

Mix that all together.

To prepare your steaks lay down a bed of coals outdoors. Unless you have an industrial size venting system on your stove this is an outdoor recipe. Since we're cooking with a pan over coals the type of wood or charcoal in the fire is not all that crucial. Garden variety out of the bag stuff will do just fine. You want to have an even layer of coals that will completely cover or exceed the diameter of your skillet.

Speaking of skillets, there is only one choice here. Cast Iron; and well seasoned cast iron at that. To season a cast iron pan you take the pan wash it in warm soap and water, rinse very well, dry thoroughly and then coat it with a thin film of shortening. Put it in a hot (300°) oven for 20 minutes, let it cool, repeat the coating and baking process again, but when you take it out of the oven to cool coat it again with the shortening. When it has cooled wipe it down with a paper or cloth towel. I'll get into the cleaning process after we're done cooking our steaks.

To season the meat, give it a good rub down with EVOO (for you non Rachel Ray fans that's Extra Virgin Olive Oil) and coat it well with the spice mixture. Then put the meat in the very hot cast iron skillet and cook until the spice coating is black (once you see the amount of smoke you'll understand why I told you to do this outdoors), turn and do the same to the other side. There should be a coal black hard crust that develops on the steak. Plate and sprinkle with crumbles of bleu, or stilton cheese. Allow at least five minutes of rest before serving. This lets the meat recover from the shock of the rapid high temperature cooking and gives the cheese time to melt.

I usually serve this with fresh asparagus (wild when I can find it) and hollandaise. The hollandaise will come in handy if you have yourself a red pepper rookie at the table. If you see someone in distress you can slap on a little hollandaise, or in a real pinch, give them a little dish of plain yoghurt on the side to help ease their pain. Feel free to tease them mercilessly though.

To clean your cast iron pan, reheat it (you can do this part indoors at the range). Have running cold water going at the sink and a steel wool (NO SOAP EVER!) pad or scrubber handy. When the skillet's hot douse it under the cold water and scrub with the steel wool. The action of sticking the hot cast iron under the cold water makes it contract and push all the left behind bits of food off of the surface, it's better than teflon for cleaning up. Dry with a towel, give it a quick coating of shortening (wiping off the excess again before storing your pan) and let it cool slowly.

I'm hoping that election night will provide me a chance to eat a rare steak and imagine that I'm eating Karl Rove's ass.

Bon Appetite.

crossposted at Big Brass Blog


Blogger JackGoff said...

I like my Rove's ass burnt to ash and then blown away. Then, I go eat an apple to celebrate.

1:57 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

OK fine, but i'm scarfing down the bloody steak. then as i watch the carnage i will wipe my chin to the wailing of the wounded and dance to the lamentations of their women...(i'm a cossack at heart)

7:14 PM  
Blogger JackGoff said...

You barbarian you. 8^D

10:34 PM  
Blogger konagod said...

Please allow some blood to run down your chin.

1:21 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i promise i will, i might even be playing warren zevon for background music.

3:16 PM  
Blogger maurinsky said...

I love red meat, and I love it rare. I want that cow still mooing.

I'm just a bloodthirsty omnivore.

7:49 PM  
Blogger BadTux said...

Penguins don't eat steaks, raw or otherwise. Unless we're talking herring steak.

Did just whip up a delish red beans and rice with andouille and fresh habanero (!!!!!). Will that work?

- Badtux the Culinary Penguin

10:16 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

maurinsky: i've told waiters that if it doesn't flinch when i poke it with the fork it's overdone.

tux: this also works very well on albacore, dorado or halibut. mais, J'aime l'haricot rouges et le riz avec l'andouille. les chiles de habanero sont encore meilleurs que les petits tobascos.

11:11 PM  

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