Thursday, July 4, 2013

steaks on the egg

I'm looking forward to grilling steaks this afternoon, assuming these crazy temperatures and high humidity don't force me inside.

It seems as if I've cooked steaks forever. Until recently, I've felt comfortable in front of the grill. I grew up using a wood fire in a large built-in barbecue on the patio outside our kitchen door. It was beautiful and fun, but it pretty much had one temperature and you were on your own guessing what that might be. Trial by fire so to speak.

For many, many years after that, I used a Weber kettle-style grill. I loved it, them actually, as I went through a few ever-so-slightly different models. The one I still have, even though I no longer use it, is red with an accurate thermometer built right in. I love it to this day, but it was overshadowed by our Big Green Egg. Which brings us to my current wariness with grilling.

The Egg can be regulated beautifully. I've slowly barbecued deep pit style beef for almost two days with ease. I've also managed some great steaks from time to time. And at least twice, I've managed to set myself on fire. One of those times resulted in some pretty nasty burns and a trip to urgent care. Both necessitated and emergency call to my hairdresser. And there's my now ongoing issue with sparse eyelashes. But enough about my carelessness.

One big issue for me, aside my newly acquired fear of the flames, is keeping my steak rare and getting GK's well-done, while browning both well and not destroying the meat itself. We buy mostly grass-fed meat, and simply put, I don't want to ruin meat I had to talk myself into buying due to what seems like ever-increasing price tags. I was delighted this week to find a few clues. In Melissa Joulwan's The Clothes Make the Girl this week was a link some of the best steak advice I've seen in awhile, dispelling some deeply ingrained myths.

 If you are cooking steaks for the Fourth of July, or anytime soon, don't start your grill before you read these great tips for cooking steaks from Serious Eats.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

i should have known better

I've mentioned that I rarely buy food at Costco. I simply don't trust them. It's not that I never buy anything there, it's just that, normally, I'm super-cautious and don't expect much. Still, I almost always look.

Given my usual caution, I don't know what I was thinking today. I saw some beautiful T-bone steaks. Seriously, they were beautiful, and we are not even T-bone fans. I carefully selected an especially nice package of two steaks which weighed a little more than 3 pounds. I was thinking grand, fun-filled BBQ and leftovers. I was really kind of jazzed.

When we got home, I quickly went to the steaks to salt and refrigerate them, my usual routine. That's when I noticed the small print, explaining they had been "blade tenderized" and should be cooked to a minimum temperature of 180F for safety. Geez! 180! That's a joke, right? Even GK, who eats well-done meat, wouldn't want a steak cooked to that temperature. I, personally, am a rare meat fan. I'll tolerate medium-rare if I have to, but I don't relish the thought. 180F, no way.

Still, I do not feel bound to follow labels where safety is concerned. This label was a different situation. You can easily bring the temperature of the outside of a large piece of meat, like a steak, to a very high temperature, well over 180F without overcooking the interior. At least if a careless food industry has not poked holes all through it, you can. Blade tenderization stabs meats in mass, introducing the likelihood of bacteria being moved from the surface inward. The result is a bit like ground meat in terms of safety issues.

So now I'm sulking and trying to talk GK into taking the damn things back.

and now a new chapter begins...

I'm a high school teacher. More accurately put, I was a high school teacher. Last week, I finished packing my personal stuff, said sad and encouraging good-byes to my students, completed the last reports, the final bit of paperwork, and drove away. For the final time.

It was a personal choice, though I'm still feeling a slight tinge of loss and am floundering a bit putting all my new freedom to good use. My plan is to sleep later each day, to play in the garden more, to talk myself into enjoying photography, to spend far more time in the kitchen creating and experimenting, and to write. I've not attended to this blog on a regular basis for some time. That will change.

In the coming weeks, expect more and regular posts, a new look, and most likely a new site. It will not be an overnight occurrence, more like an extended process, much like my learning to sleep past 3 or 4 am.

Thank you for your patience and for hanging out with me during these transitions. Now, to get into the kitchen, so I have something fun to write about....