Steak Dinner Masterpiece

On March 18, 2011, in Food Wins, by Hart Deer

I’d like to thank Chef Sanju for generously letting me post on the Amazing Food Circus.  At least, I’d like to thank him for generously leaving the admin site open on his desktop and generously leaving his firewall open.

So, to celebrate my mom’s birthday, I had my parents over and made them a steak dinner.  The adventure started out normally but would soon take a turn for the bizarrely awesome.  Here are my parents, by the way.


Mom and Dad

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Preparations for my magnum opus de la impresionante of a steak dinner began yesterday.  I got a Porterhouse steak for Mom and me.  I gave her the tenderloin, and I took the strip.  I got Dad a New York Strip, and I also got a New York Strip for my marvelous Sous-Chef Victoria Hornbeck.

Here is the Porterhouse.



Here is Dad’s New York Strip.


Dad's Steak Raw Dad's Steak Raw 2


Victoria wanted her meat au naturel, so she got no marinade.  As for the other two steaks, first I tenderized them with a fork on both sides, then I pressed a layer of Emeril Rub and a layer of minced garlic into each side, top and bottom.


Seasoned New York Strip Seasoned Porterhouse


This set me down a path to blaspheme the high arts of cookery in the most brazen way… but I’m getting ahead of myself.  For now, suffice to say, I am employing the marination technique of Jason Guest.  Jason Guest’s culinary career has been in the greasy blackened pits of an American roadhouse.  Just keep that in mind for now; it’s important later.  Anyway, back to the meal preparation.

After seasoning the steaks, I submerged them in baths of half soy sauce, half Merlot.  The steaks were then sealed in their containers to marinate in the refrigerator for a day.


Marinating New York Strip Marinating Porterhouse


The Merlot is a Livingston, nature’s cheapest and boldest wine.  The Snooki of wines.  The flavor is extremely dry and austere (unlike Snooki).  It cleanses the palette well, and it pairs perfectly with the marinade, so I served everyone a glass with the meal.




Next I went for the mashed potatoes.  I scrubbed and cut the eyes off of five pounds of red potatoes and put them in a pot to boil for like an hour.  Tedious!


Boiling Potatoes


While waiting, since I had nothing better to do, I chopped up a red onion and submerged it in a bath of orange juice to marinate in the fridge for a day together with its brothers, the noble steaks.


Marinating Onions


Finally, the stupid potatoes got soft and yielding to my fork, so I mashed them to smithereens with great prejudice.


Freshly Mashed Potatoes


To enhance the flavor, I sautéed two of the unboiled potatoes in butter for ten minutes.


Sautéed Potatoes


Then I dumped the used butter and the sautéed potatoes– or “sautatoes” as I like to call them– into the mash.  I added one cup of milk to that and stirred it in.  Finally, I completed the mashed potatoes by adding seasoned salt, freshly ground black pepper, freshly chopped chives, garlic powder, and Worchester sauce.  Repeated gradual taste tests eventually yielded the perfect combination.


Mashed Potatoes


The mashed potatoes went into the fridge, and all was ready for the next day.

The next day started by taking the steaks out of the fridge to warm up for an hour before cooking.  Then I preheated the oven to 175 degrees and stuck some plates in there.


Pre-Heated Plates


Then I preheated all the skillets to medium.  I didn’t even use the front right burner, but I still preheated a skillet on it.  That’s just how I roll.  Don’t hate.


Pre-Heated Skillets


Now at last it was time to do my epic win and COOK THE STEAKS!  Are you sitting down?  Are you totally ready to have your mind blown and put back together and blown up again?  Alright…

First, some background for you non-chef types out there (like me).  The macdaddy supreme gangster overlord of all chefs is widely considered to be a man by the name of Alain Ducasse.  Don’t let the girly name fool you.  Ducasse is anything but a girl.  He has the Eiffel Tower restaurant and others, all of which always get the coveted three Michelin stars, which means the guy is really, really, really, really good.  I mean, like, wow.

Mr. Ducasse has his peculiar French way of doing everything.  One such thing is cooking steaks.  Ducasse does not like to grill, sear, or char his steaks at all, ever, period.  He thinks it ruins the flavor.  Certainly, “carbonizing the meat” (as he calls it) would totally destroy what Ducasse is going for.  As a corollary, Ducasse uses relatively low temperatures to cook his steaks.  Ducasse’s steak method produces the most highly acclaimed steaks in the world.  He’s doing something right.

Now, here’s the thing.  Ducasse is also a steak purist.  He will not touch his steak with even so much as pepper, for he wants to celebrate the steak’s natural flavor.  This is exactly where I rock your world with my amazing innovation.  As you see above, I marinate the ever loving hell out of my steaks, and then… I still use Ducasse’s method to cook them!  Woah!  Think about it, it’ll blow your mind.  Jason Guest.  Alain Ducasse.  Two opposing culinary philosophies… until… boom!  I bring them together in a head-on full frontal collision.  It’s like a total 180 from the way anyone has ever approached it!  It’s radical, and let me tell you friends, it works.  It works darn well.  On this particular occasion, Victoria was with Ducasse and did not want her meat molested, so I ended up making at least one steak “the right way” and I have a basis for comparison… more on that later.

Okay, so here’s what I did.  First, I put each steak a on each edge for several seconds to a minute or so per edge in a preheated pan.  This was to liquefy a little of the fat into the pan and make a nice brown crust on each edge.  The fattiest edge got the most time for each steak.  This initial part of the steak cooking process is called “activating the meat” because chefs want to pretend that they are super cool edgy machinist rebels.


Activating the Meat


Next, I put two tablespoons of butter into each pan and set each steak down on one of its two flat sides for ten minutes each.   This ten minutes is nerve racking.  The butter makes all kinds of crazy sizzling sounds and you just want to lift up the meat to make sure it’s not burning.  Don’t do it!  If you touch the meat at this critical phase, all the juices will leak out and your steak will be ruined!  Besides, the ten minutes is a very precise interval to achieve what the French call “brun beurre” which means “brown butter”.  The butter browns and in so doing creates the “Maillard reaction”.  The butter imparts its richest flavor to the meat, caramelizes the meat’s surface, and deeply soaks into the meat that rich, caramelized, buttery flavor.  It’s great stuff.  This is the subtle flavor for which Ducasse denounces “carbonizing” with the intense fury of a floppy French dragon.


Cooking the First Side


See that nice rich brown color to the butter?  That’s magic working.  Pure magic.  After ten minutes of magic, you dump and totally clear out all the used butter.  More than ten minutes will burn the butter, impart burnt flavor, and thus destroy all semblance of subtlety.  Ditch the old butter, put in two tablespoons of new butter for each steak, and cook the other flat side for ten minutes.  You can also use a spoon to take the butter dribbling out from under the cooking steaks and drizzle it on top of the steaks as a baste.  That’s what I did.


Cooking the Second Side


Hell yes.  After cooking the second side, I complete the Ducasse method by putting the cooked steaks onto the preheated plates in the oven and leaving the meat to rest for 15 minutes.  Allowing the meat to rest locks the juices deep into the meat and make the meat moist, juicy, and delicious.

While all this was going on, I set the dinner table, poured everyone a glass of lemon La Croix sparkling water and a glass of Livingston Merlot, and Victoria prepared the salad and mashed potatoes.  For the salad, I handed her the marinated onions, wild field greens with spinach, walnuts, a grinder full of black pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar; and told her to go nuts.  For the mashed potatoes, I had her heat them in the microwave and then sprinkle some shredded Mexican cheese on top.  Victoria assures me I was enough of a food Nazi about the whole thing that I could have been a real chef.

Once the meat rested, I took it out and carved Mom’s tenderloin fillet and my loin strip off the bone; that’s why my plate has a good bit of juice on it.  Doesn’t matter; the meat held in the vast majority of the juice and rocked out.  The perfect steak dinner was served:


The Dinner Table


My steak was utterly delicious.  Notice the nice smooth transition between the the brown outer layers and the pink interior, and the perfectly caramelized crust.


Hart's Steak


Dad’s steak was the most hard fought.  I barely got it off its brown butter in time!  When I tried a bite, thankfully his steak had no hint of carbon.  It was all caramel, baby.  The darkness of the surface represents the absolute most you can get away with and still call this method successful.  (The darkest bits are actually the garlic.)


Dad's Steak


Mom had the best quality meat, and I could tell.  I tried a bite… the meat was so tender and delicious.  If I did this over again and I had the means to get nothing but Porterhouse tenderloin fillets for everyone, I’d surely do it.


Mom's Steak


Finally, we come to Victoria’s steak, the only steak done in the official proper way of Ducasse.  I will say that the meaty flavor of the meat, and its quirky beefy flavors, did come out much more strongly.  However, personally, I greatly prefer the taste of the marinated meat.  I can’t even describe how deliciously the caramelizing from the brown butter melds with the marinade and meat flavors.  Dad was raised in Texas and he agrees, and hey, you can’t argue with Texas.  Not about steaks.  Not about anything really, but especially steaks.  Also, the marinade super moistens the meat and heat is much more thoroughly and evenly distributed throughout the cooking process.  If you like your steak closer to rare, I guess it wouldn’t be for you, but hey, the centers of my marinated blasphemy steaks are still rich, pink, and tender.  I think it’s the best of all worlds.  The transition from the center to the outside of a marinated blasphemy steak is just perfect– no gray, no awkward discontinuity of texture, a seamless and gradual change.  However, if it’s just not for you, this is Victoria’s steak.


Victoria's Steak


She did make it bleed more than it normally would, because she is after all a savage predator.

The secondary elements of the meal perfectly complimented the steak.  The wine actually tasted good after the bold, deep flavors of the steak, and refreshed the palette for another go.  When wine wasn’t enough, the lemon La Croix completely wipes all traces of everything from the tongue.  The mashed potatoes had been exciting the night before when I sampled them alone, but next to the steak, they provided the foil of good, rib sticking, starchy normality.  The salad was slightly sweet thanks to the orange juice soaked onions.  Also, the orange juice greatly cut the harshness of the onions down to something more quietly perky.  The walnuts, greens, dressing, and pepper were all quite crisp and cool, and allowed other areas of the tongue to play for a while.

No disrespect to Monsieur Ducasse, but I’ve taken his great French methods and, in typical American fashion, thrown out all the antiquated, whimsical, superstitious nonsense that held him back.  I’ve beaten him at his own game by violating his rules in the most extreme way, and like Bill Gates turning Mac OS (and later Linux) into Windows– it just works, and it’s infinitely superior.  Try my wild little extreme marination method before you knock it.  You’ll probably side with Ducasse out of spite because you don’t like the tone of my blog.  However, if you do, deep down you will know that you are wrong and I am right, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.


4 Responses to Steak Dinner Masterpiece

  1. Chef Sanju says:

    What the hell man? This is my webpage! I do the cooking around here, jeez! That’s not even the right wine pairing!!!

    Get the hell of my Internet Hart Deer!!

  2. Hart Deer says:

    CS Lewis one said, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating of it.” A wine pairing is “right” if it compliments the food and if the food compliments it. In this case, because the meat was so super seasoned, a much drier and more overt wine worked perfectly.

    YOUR internet? Is this the thanks I get? I slave every day over a hot keyboard, doing everything in my power just to make “your” internet AWEsome. Why do you think facebook is so popular? To keep up with all the people I made the internet cool for. Why do you think Twitter is so successful? Actually, why is Twitter so successful? I don’t get it at all. Please explain Twitter.

  3. Jay says:

    “Actually, why is Twitter so successful? I don’t get it at all. Please explain Twitter.”

    Oh, man, you don’t wanna know. *I* don’t wanna know.

  4. Paultera says:

    Your marinade is almost exactly what I use. I try different ingredients now and then but I always use a ton of garlic and soy sauce is always my base. I’m definitely trying this cooking method next time I do steak.

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