The Great Steak Debate

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A great dinner begins with great steaks. Spare no expense when it comes to finding perfectly marbled fillets.

When cooking for others, it is important to have a full appreciation of the diner’s expectations. Get to know their likes and dislikes. Become familiar with their preferences and tastes. For instance, my wife doesn’t enjoy red meat. In fact, she’s used the phrase, “turns my stomach” to describe one of my perfectly prepared deer loins. A steak, no matter how well cooked, is not the least bit appealing to her. As a result, I seldom select this for one of our dinner menus.

However, when she travels for work, I take full advantage of the absence to enjoy one of my favorite meals. Thankfully, my daughter is also a big fan. Her boyfriend can certainly put away the beef and my sons never turn it down. When my wife travels, it’s beef that’s for dinner.

Last month, my spouse traveled out of town twice and I quickly indulged my love for a good steak. On her first night out-of-state, I made my way to a nearby steak-house to see if they could top my own cooking ability. The Aspen Creek Grill is located in eight cities around the country and Noblesville is host to one of the establishments.

I ordered a sirloin (the house favorite), sauteed mushrooms and a creamy corn casserole with a very good Cabernet. I sat by myself in the booth and read my book, looking forward to each bite.

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Aspen Creek steaks are good, but not great. I was convinced I could do better.

The mushrooms, which can be quite tricky to get right were not right. They were over-spiced and over-cooked. When it was all said and done, they added very little to the meal. The corn, however was simply wonderful. It was creamy and crisp at the same time; it was something that I could order again without regret.

But I didn’t come for side dishes, I came for the steak and was looking forward to cutting into the this Sirloin. The first bite told me all I needed to know: it was good. Not great. Not amazing. Not perfect. Just good.

There is something about a steak-house cut of meat that always leaves me wanting more. It often has a salt-covered quality, a over-chemicalized flavor. A steak cooked medium rare should have a soft texture but never a metallic after-taste. It should be carefully charred on the outside, sealing in the juices and flavors. It should be buttery smooth on the inside, revealing aged perfection. A good cut of meat doesn’t need additives to make it palatable. It should stand on its own. Unfortunately, this steak did not.

I was glad I went to the steak-house. I was glad I ordered the Sirloin not because of the excellent meal, but because it served as a reminder that I could do so much better. And a few nights later, I did just that.

The Best Steaks

I started with three aged Sirloin fillets. They were marbled beautifully and weighed in at 8-12 ounces each. I laid them out on a large cutting board and covered each side with a generous covering of salt and pepper and let them rest for a hour.

While I waited, I prepped the remaining ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoon-sized pats of butter
  • 3 sprigs of Rosemary
  • 6 crushed garlic cloves
  • 3 Tablespoons of blue cheese, crumbled
  • 3 scallions, chopped

I turned on the oven to 500 degrees and placed my pan on the stove top, turning the burner to high. Adding a tablespoon of vegetable oil, I waited until it just started to smoke and then laid in the first steak. I moved it around the surface of the pan with tongs to help prevent sticking and turned the heat down a bit to keep the steak from burning. After 5-minutes I turned the steak and put the pan in the oven for 7-minutes.

I removed the pan from the oven and returned it to the burner, adding 2 garlic cloves, one pat of butter and a Rosemary sprig. Tipping the pan, the butter and fat from the steak pooled in the lower portion and the steak remained elevated. With a large spoon, I ladled the garlic and Rosemary infused fat onto the surface of the steak providing rich, wonderful flavors as it continued to cook.

With each spoonful of butter, the top of the steak sizzled and cooked to a deeper, darker brown. I turned the steak over after a few minutes and continued the process on the other side. After 4-5 minutes I removed the steak to a platter, allowing it to rest while I repeated the steps with the remaining two fillets. When they were all rested and ready, I scattered a spoonful of blue cheese and a generous helping of chopped scallions over the top. Served with Mashed Garlic Cauliflower and a side salad, this dinner was enjoyed by all.

The steaks had a perfect texture, crispy on the outside and buttery-smooth on the inside. The flavors were complex, rich and savory, without a hint of the metallic after-taste found in the average chophouse version.

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A wonderful dinner awaits: Blue Cheese, Scallions, and a melt-in-your-mouth Sirloin.

If you are in the mood for a good steak, I would invite you to skip the steak-house variety. For a fraction of the cost and with very little effort, you can have a steak that is superior to even the best restaurant fare.

Be Brave & Eat Well!

#lunchbycurt

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