Last night, Ivon came over with fifteen pounds of meat. Now, normally, the writer in me would be instantly suspicious of a friend who just happened to show up on my doorstep with a bag full of red meat that needed eating, but in this case Ivon paved the way with a (suspicious?) story about placing an order with a farm that raises organic, grass-fed livestock. He’d informed me he was scheduled to pick up his order at around 6:00 p.m. and suggested he and his girlfriend, Sarah, could swing by and taste test the meat at my place.
I said “Sure!”, swung by the farmers market and picked up some accompaniments – fresh carrots for Akemi’s honey-roasted carrot dish, fresh sungold tomatoes, lemon cukes, garlic, and basil for a nice end of summer salad, and an assortment of fresh desserts from French Made Baking.
Ivon and Sarah arrived at around 6:30, meat in tow. We decided to sample four cuts:
My preferred preparation method involves heavily salting the meat and letting it sit for an hour to break down the tissue, then rinse it off, pat it dry, season with pepper and thyme, then sear in a cast iron pan for two minutes aside before topping it with more thyme, crushed garlic, and butter and popping it into the oven for ten minutes to finish. Alas, the fact that the steaks were frozen solid put a bit of a crimp in those pans. And so, instead, I looked up a recipe for searing frozen steaks. According to the adherents of this method, frozen steaks actually sear better than room temperature steaks. After searing, the steaks are popped into the oven for thirty minutes to an hour at fairly low heat (250 degrees) and then served to a perfect, buttery medium-rare.
The steaks seared nicely and, as per the instructions, I popped them into the oven at 250 degrees. After about twenty minutes, we checked the meat. It was still raw inside. Patience may be a virtue but hunger trumps everything so we ratcheted up the oven to 350 degrees, waited another fifteen and –
The meat was very good, the tenderloin in particular, but I think we did it a disservice by rushing it along. Some day, I’d like to prepare them, unfrozen, with my salt and sear method.
Everyone has their version of the perfect steak. Would love to hear yours.
Since we’re on the topic of perfecting cooking methods, here are a couple of pics of Akemi and my recent attempts at souffle:
Inspired by a recent episode of Master Chef (Can I just say how much I hate it when eliminated contestants are given the opportunity to return to the competition? It gives them an unfair advantage over every chef that is eliminated moving forward, every other chef who DIDN’T luck out with a second chance. But this is a topic for another blog rant), Akemi and I set out to try our hands at the difficult dish, baking up four versions: Savory Cheese, Blueberry, Cherry, and Chocolate.
Surprisingly, the cheese – while the ugliest – was the tastiest. The chocolate was first runner up because, while slightly dried out, it turned out better than the undercooked fruit souffles.
Work continues on perfecting our souffle recipes.
We’re also working on perfecting our pork belly recipes. The other day, we tried a Gordon Ramsay version that involved slow roasting the pork belly, pressed it, refrigerating it overnight, then slicing it up and finishing in the oven to crispy doneness.
As much as I loved the crispy top, I found the meat too tough, nestled between layers of fat that hadn’t rendered properly. We still prefer a version Akemi makes (she calls it “Winnie the Pooh Pork”) that sees it braised for several hours in a soy, honey, orange and balsamic vinegar-based sauce.
Sometimes, simple is best. Like this simple salad comprised of sweet sungolds, fresh basil, burrata cheese, Arbequina olive oil, and sea salt.
And, finally, a taste of Japan. Akemi’s “happo sai”: nappa cabbage, shitake mushrooms, pork, carrots, and quail eggs in a chicken broth-based stew.
Last chance to vote (and most importantly, leave a comment on the poll page to win a signed script) for The Most Heartbreaking Moment in Stargate History:
Our Supermovie of the Week Club resumes tomorrow as this blog’s resident film critic, Cookie Monster, returns to offer his take on Ang Lee’s The Hulk (2003). Monster has been uncharacteristically generous of late, doling out high cookie praise for movies like X-Men, X2: X-Men United, and Spiderman while demonstrating more typical disdain for recent stinker Daredevil. How will The Hulk fare? Tune in to tomorrow’s blog episode to find out.