Tag Archives: barbecue

Grilled Steak (and the secrets of spice rub penetration)

14 Jul

After several days of hospital cafeteria food (which is quite expensive, mostly awful, and just not home-made), my mom was hankering for some steak. So as soon as my dad got out of said hospital, she bought some U.S.D.A. Choice top loin and we planned a Fourth of July celebration (see Perfect Grilled Fish and Grilled Potato Disks).

The scoring of the meat is subtle, yet critical (a bit like the unsung heroes of the clean-up crew….)

And then I, who had a hankering to do some fun experimenting with my dad now that he was out of danger, proceeded to screw up her day.

Once the paste is on, give it awhile to adhere and penetrate

“There’s this interesting Cook’s Illustrated technique I want to try…” begins the conversation, and next thing you know, Pedro’s on it with me, we are mucking about (dirtying kitchen stuff which she is mostly in charge of cleaning, because he does the cooking – and gets the glory, I might add. The cleaner-uppers are always undersung.) and everything is fun again. For us.

And penetrate some more while you prep other things

Except that —  his crazy-ass diet means he’s not gonna eat it, and since he’s cooking the fish from across the street (see Perfect Grilled Fish), me and Leandro are not going to eat it, so really, none of us had any business getting elaborate with Myrna’s steak craving. A bit of pepper and salt and the woman would’ve been happy. But far be it for Natalia and Pedro to leave well enough alone…

So we did this gussied-up steak and she hated it. Hated it. Almost spun out. I almost spun out.It had been quite a week and we were all close to spinning out, except that it was Fourth of July and we reeled it in and had a wonderful day, once we remembered what we were about.

I really liked it and Leandro ate the leftovers the next day (once the fish was gone) and proclaimed it The Best Steak Ever, and Padushi and Mommy the Best Cooks Ever… so I am sharing it with you.

The important secret here is that the scoring and the paste add flavor and depth,  AND make the rub stay on! Feel free to experiment with your own spice rub combinations, but be warned that the fish sauce is salty, so UNDERSALT with the rest.

And the next time, I promise, promise, promise Myrna to Keep It Simple. KISS, KISS, KISS.

And for those of you out there, a reminder. Don’t hug the cook without hugging the people who clean up after the cook!

Yeah, baby

Grilled Spice-Rubbed Steak

Steak:

1.5 lbs beef top loin in two steaks

Scored in a crosshatch, about 1/16th inch deep and ½ inch apart

Paste:

2 tsp tomato paste

2 tsp fish sauce

1 tsp adobo powder

Spice rub:

¼ tsp rosemary

¼ tsp turmeric

10 black peppercorns

1 clove

Mix all ingredients of paste together. Spread evenly over both sides of steaks. Set aside to rest an hour. (In the fridge, if you must. On the counter if you don’t worry so much about such things).

Crush all ingredients of spice rub together in a mortar and pestle. When steak has rested, sprinkle evenly over all sides of steaks. Rub in (this is a rub, after all).

Cook on a hot grill, about five minutes each side, depending on thickness of steak, heat of grill and desired doneness. Allow to rest before serving and accompany with simple sides that don’t compete.

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Grilled Potato Disks (Like fries, only better!)

12 Jul

French fries are such a temptation, especially on the way back from the beach in the summer, when your mouth is salty, and the kids are encrusted with sand, and the sun is hot and you are tasting those carefree high school memories and suddenly you are driving past All-American Burger with all those crowds of similarly sand and salt encrusted summer folks lined up for their Quarter Pounder with Cheese and Fries…well, how could you not?

Well Pedro (yes, he of the crazy-ass diet) has come up with a worthy alternative that you can do on the grill at home. These grilled potato disks are crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and just seasoned enough to not need much else. They are my mom’s new favorite; sort of French fries with virtue. Because they are so simple, they go with virtually anything on the regular summer grill menu – burgers, steaks, fish, corn. Love it!

Grilled Potato Disks (Like fries, only better!)

1 Tbs olive oil

½ tsp Adobo powder

3 medium potatoes (Yukon Gold preferred), peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch rounds

While the grill is heating up, in a bowl, stir adobo and olive oil together. Brush the potatoes with the oil mixture and lay on grill, reserving  extra oil. Using tongs , take potatoes off grill when they begin to brown, about five minutes (as they will be spread over the whole grill, you will need to judge hotter and colder parts and shift potatoes accordingly). Dip them in the oil mixture, shake excess off gently and lay them back on the grill for another five minutes or so, until nicely browned. Serve sprinkled with salt, with ketchup or with mayo-chipo-ketchup.

Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions (Burger Topping Extraordinaire)

15 Mar

Now that I have recuperated from the trauma of car buying and am tooling around happily in my beautiful new (for me) automobile and impressing the neighbors — a bit like Toad, only better-behaved (extra points if you get the reference)  — a host of other little things are making life challenging.

You know, unexpected meetings (note the use of the plural – not one, not two, but many!); unexpected need to write recommendations; unexpected oily messes from poorly shut jars of sun-dried tomatoes that somehow tipped over in the fridge at 11 p.m. after one of those unexpected meetings; unexpected armies of black ants marching through the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen; just unexpected stuff that keeps popping up in the middle of attempting to actually finish something, just one thing, for the love of God!

Still life with mushrooms

So I am swamped and overwhelmed, but none of it is bad or life-threatening, and even though I haven’t kept you informed, we are still eating real food over here (and I am still washing heaps of real dishes, which is becoming a real problem because I have fisherman’s cracked hands). So, I’ll count my blessings and try to catch you up on some recent favorites.

The original topper from which this recipe is derived....YUM-Burger

I promised you this burger topper recipe weeks ago, from a mid-winter BBQ with Marianne & Co. when the weather was mild enough to warrant firing up the grill. It is still mild enough! I have since made it to dress-up black bean burgers – it really made me feel as though I was having a restaurant meal. And I needed that.

With black bean burgers

Onion and Mushroom Burger Toppers

2-3 Tbs salted butter

2 medium onions, sliced

8 oz. button mushrooms, stems trimmed and sliced (2-2.5 Cups)

1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce, plus more to taste (optional: from what I know Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies, so it is not vegetarian; other steak sauces like A-1 may be vegetarian. Check the label!)

Salt to taste

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a skillet on medium-high. When foaming subsides, add onions to skillet, stir to cover and lower heat. Allow to wilt and caramelize (at least five minutes; more if you have the time).

When onions have cooked and browned, remove and set aside. Add mushrooms to skillet with existing butter (add more if desired) and cook at medium –high, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms have released their liquid (about five minutes), liquid has evaporated somewhat and mushrooms are tender and browned. Add more butter, if desired (I desire a lot of butter!), return onions to skillet and stir to incorporate. Add Worcestershire sauce to taste as desired, a teaspoon or so at a time. Serve atop cooked burgers, grilled meats or vegetable or veggie/bean burgers.

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