Posted by johngl
As I was navigating through traffic Friday evening, my phone emitted it’s text message tone. Rolling up to a long queue at the stop light at Ben White and Brodie, I gave my phone a look-see.
BigDMcC: I’ve got two two-pound Niman Ranch Tomahawk Ribeyes. What are you doing for dinner this weekend?
JohnGL: Going to your house?
Thus began the impromptu odyssey of the mega-steak. If it seems like I’ve been eating a lot of red meat lately, you wouldn’t be far off.
We rearranged things a bit and Big D made the trek south to our place and James, another friend of ours, joined in the fun a few minutes later. I love it when a plan comes together.
Knowing our combined appetites as well as I do, I set to laying out some munchies. From left: Capocollo, Bresaola, Prosciutto di San Daniele, and Insalata Caprese.
For the uninitiated, capocollo is a traditional Calabrian Italian cold cut made from pork shoulder or neck, and dry-cured whole. It’s got a nice, spicy flair to it. Bresaola is salted and air-dried beef. This just happens to be tenderloin. I’m hoping you know that Prosciutto is what ham should be.
The Insulata Caprese hails from the Italian region of Campania and is made of sliced fresh (water) buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil then seasoned with salt and drizzled with olive oil. I’m glad I don’t have to milk the buffalo.
Looks pretty, no?
We rounded out the appetizers with some prosciutto wrapped watermelon, olives, several kinds of pâté, and cheese (double-cream brie, black truffle, blue, and some petit something-or-other).
I also sous-vide some Copper River sockeye salmon and served that with a sauce made up of crème fraîche, dill, and a spritz of lime juice. I didn’t get a picture, but it was pretty darn tasty and went fast.
Now that the four of us had consumed two bottles of wine, opened two more, and were sated for the moment, it was time to get rolling on steaks. Remember those?
You can’t really see how big and thick they are…here’s a little size comparator.
These puppies were a full 2″ thick, exceptionally well-marbled, and dry-aged.
The steak preparation went two ways. I will call method one: Big D’s Half-Baked Steak and method two: Big John’s Grilled-to-Perfection Steak. I’m not prejudicing my readers, am I?
Here, Big D is searing off his steak in a screaming hot pan (around 500°F). The sear lasted a few minutes per side, then the pan and steak went into a pre-heated 350° oven to finish out (hence being half-baked). Big D’s hatchet handle is wrapped in a wet paper towel and foil, presumably to keep the bone a more pristine white.
On the other hand, the beef chop James and I were dealing with was destined for a hot grill.
I took the grill’s temp a few minutes prior to plunking down the steak: a rockin’ 975°F. There is nothing half-baked going on here!
The usual 2-2-2-2 method applied here for a total of eight minutes.
Above, ribeye steak as it is meant to be. Below is the half-baked version.
The half-baked version was finished with butter, French thyme, and fresh garlic cloves. Very cheffy.
Here, we’re giving things a rest (literally and metaphorically):
While the steaks were resting, I put some corn and a large tomato on the grill.
I picked up a good tip from James (who claims to have cooked a million steaks): Soak the corn in salted water prior to grilling. It made perfect sense so I added a tablespoon of salt to the soaking liquid. Why soak at all? Well, it keeps the husks moist so the corn steams very nicely. It took 8 minutes on the grill. Just enough time to rest the steaks before plating.
Roasting tomatoes on the grill is not only fast, but it imparts some really great smokiness and concentrates the flavors. I really need to make some roasted tomato pizza sauce using this heirloom variety!
A brownish-purple color on the outside, these are exceptionally fleshy inside.
Peeling back the crispy corn husks revealed a moist and steamy cob.
Assembling a quick sampler platter, I got down to some serious tasting.
The steak sample on the left (half-baked) is medium rare leaning toward medium. The steak on the right (grilled) is medium-rare, leaning toward rare. Both were really quite tasty…as were the bones.
The impromptu odyssey of the big Niman Ranch steaks may be over, but the memory of fine wine and fun-filled food fanaticism remain intact.
We don’t do this nearly often enough!