Hello ladies and gentlemen. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Daniel Kulisek. I am a friend, co-worker, and fellow foodie of Allie’s. She had mentioned that she might want to put up some guest blogs on her site while she is away and I jumped at the chance. This site was severely lacking in the “red meat” department (as I kept mentioning to her, probably to an annoying extent), so I figured this would be a great opportunity to give a little lesson in meat.
Lets call it “Meat 101: Making the Proper Steak Dinner”
Or maybe “Enjoying Dan’s Meat”? Yeah, I think I like that better.
We’re going to do this in steps, so lets roll –
Step 1: Purchasing the steaks. Buy the cow, feel the love.
Now for the home grill master, USDA Prime is going to be hard to come by and quite expensive, so your best bet would be to go with USDA Choice. Make sure it says that on the label, other wise you’re going to get USDA Select, and I wouldn’t eat that with your teeth. USDA Choice is easy to find, but I suggest going to a butcher shop. Or Wegman’s.
Man, I love Wegman’s. I’d marry it if it were a woman. Or if I wasn’t married. Oh hell, I think Laura would understand. You see, Laura is my wife. Wait, where was I? Oh yeah….
There are many different cuts, but today we’re going to focus on my favorite – the rib eye. The rib eye cut is the most marbled, so therefore the most flavorful. I’ve always lived by the rule that “the flavor’s in the fat”. Even if you don’t eat the fat (I’m staring at your plate, Laura, and I intend on eating every last bit you cut off), you’ll find that the meat is the phenomenal. Look to get your steaks cut at least ¾-1” thick, otherwise you’ll run the risk of overcooking the center. I usually try get them 1” or thicker. Color is also very important, you want the steaks to be a true-red color with ivory colored marbling. Steer clear of any meat that is bright red, and definitely stay away from traces of grey meat and yellowish fat. These meats are unacceptable, and would be better served rotting in the stomach of a mangy mutt hanging around a dumpster.
Step 2: Prep. It’s all about the prep. It’s not about the Benjamin’s, you know, like Diddy said.
Now that we have our meat in hand, what to do with it? Hmmm. Well, first of all you want to make sure you take it out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking. The reason we do this is because steaks are best cooked at room temperature. Cooking a steak that is cold, doesn’t allow for the enzymes to break down inside the meat, therefore it will not be as flavorful. You can use this time to get you’re coals ready, but we’ll explore that in the next step.
There are several schools of thought on this. Some folks like to season the hell out of a steak using various rubs and marinades. I’ve always felt that this detracts from the flavor of the meat. After all, you probably just dropped $50 on good steaks and you don’t want to ruin them. Save that for London broil. We’re going to stick with salt and pepper. You want to use coarse sea salt or kosher salt, iodized table salt is for old ladies to use on soup in a crappy diner. As far as pepper, use freshly ground coarse peppercorns. That powdery, ground black pepper lacks flavor and “zip”. You’re going to want a little “zip”. Coat each side with a good amount of both and let them come up to temp.
Now go crack a beer, we’re going outside. Go on, you deserve it.
Step 3: Cooking the steaks. If you can’t take the heat, go back in the kitchen.
Ideally speaking, you’re cooking these beauties on a grill. My preference is charcoal; I find the flavor of the smoke compliments the steaks best. If you’re using a gas grill, that’s fine, you’ll still get a nice steak and it’s a hell of a lot easier. But hey, who want’s easy.
I like to heat my coals using a chimney. Place the coals in the top, and, using newspaper, start the fire underneath. As the fire grows, it will heat the coals to a proper temperature. This usually takes 20-30 minutes, depending on the elements outside. I’ve tried to do this in bad weather and it is extremely frustrating.
When the top layer of coals gets to be a greyish color it is time to place them in the grill. Lift off your grates and, very carefully dump them into grill. Make sure the area underneath your cooking surface has an even amount of coals. When this is finished, close your grill lid and open all the vents. You want to get that bad boy up around 400 degrees in order to get a proper char on the outside of the steaks. Once the grill is to temp, arrange your steaks on an angle across the grates. Rotate them after about a minute and a half in order to get some proper grill marks. Cooking times are as follows:
Rare: 2-3 minutes per side
Medium Rare: 3-4 minutes per side
Medium: 4-5 minutes per side
Med-Well & Well: GET THE HELL OUT OF MY HOUSE!!!
Step 4: Plate presentation. Don’t just stare at it- eat it.
Once the steaks are done to your liking, remove them from the grill. Bring them inside and place them on the counter. It’s always good to let the meat rest 5 minutes before serving so that it can gradually finish cooking itself. After that, there are two ways I like to serve it. The first is plating each steak separately and doing individual plates. I’ll do this if it’s just Laura & I, or if it’s just me. However, if you are serving to a large group, I find that my guests have enjoyed it when I slice all the steaks up in pieces and serve it on a large serving dish. It’s kind of like a Thanksgiving presentation, however it is steak and not some crappy, dried out turkey.
Well, that’s it for now. I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Keep on keepin’ on!!
Thank you Dan, for a hysterical and informative post. Yes, my blog does lack in the meat department because unfortunately I very rarely (get it) eat red meat. I’m glad someone can inform us all! While Dan does not have a blog (yet) you can find him on twitter.