Steakhouse Dinner

Steakhouse Dinner
Dry Aged Ribeye, Grilled Sweet Potatoes and Asparagus

There is just something so satisfying about eating a big steak. You can spend a lot of money eating out at a good steakhouse (preferably one that dry ages their own meats) or you can make you own steakhouse dinner for a fraction of the cost.

You may not be able to tell from the picture above, but that meal served two. The caveman sized ribeye is actually filling half a platter, is about two inches thick and has two whole sweet potatoes grilled alongside. This post isn't an official recipe, it's more of a guidelines for creating a steakhouse dinner at home. It's easier than you might think.

First, you've got to think about the steak. I am a big ribeye fan, but a good NY Strip or Porterhouse works well too. If you are lucky enough to have a butcher that carries dry aged meats, it's well worth the additional cost, but even if you are going to a regular grocery store and fancy steaks aren't available, here are a few tips to get you picking the best steak for your dollar.

Grilled porterhouse

Choose a thick steak that is evenly cut. Whether you are springing for Prime (the highest grade and therefore most expensive cut), Choice or Select Cuts look for evenly cut steaks with uniform thickness. For my money, thicker is better since I love most steaks Medium Rare. A thick cut allows you to get that juicy red center with a nice crust. Thin steaks can cook too quickly, turning well-done before you've got any discernible searing on the outside. And whether you go thick or thin, uniform thickness equates to uniform cooking. No matter how you prefer your steak cooked, from rare to well done, it will be much more enjoyable to eat if the entire steak is cooked evenly. I actually do not purchase porterhouse steaks from the regular grocery store anymore for just this reason. They seem to keep them thickest in the middle by the bone then thinner out to the edge. What does that bring you? A cool rare center near the bone and a well done perimeter, neither makes me happy.
Two gorgeous NY Strips
Look for the most even marbling (fat) you can find. The truth of the matter is, fat equals juiciness and flavor. If your steak is solid red in the center with a thick strip of fat around the outside (or along one side, or straight in the middle) you'll end up with tougher, drier meat and pockets of inedible fat. But if you see small hairlines of fat running throughout the meat (and trim off any big chunks around the outside) you'll end up with a tastier, juicier steak. Look through the selection at the store, I've found there to be significant marbling differences even when two steaks are the same "grade."

Once you've chosen your steak, you need to think about how you want to cook it. I like either pan-frying in cast iron, or directly on the grill.

A well cooked steak really needs only salt and pepper. I'm of the camp that seasons liberally with kosher or sea salt and coarse ground pepper before placing my steak on the grill or in the pan. There are constant arguments among chefs and cooks about when to season (how long before cooking vs during vs after) and you can season how you like, but stay away from steak seasoning, or other spices. You want the meat to be the star of the show. For those filet mignon fans out there - a medium rare filet can be extremely delicious with just salt and pepper, but the meat is so lean that if you like your filet past medium rare, you might want to add a fat (like wrapping in bacon) or add a simple sauce - blue cheese is nice, heck, butter and shallots are nice, but please, everyone, avoid A-1 or other super strong steak sauces. I get the appeal of those fancy butter, wine and herb sauces, judicious uses can be quite delicious indeed, but there seems to be a condiment craze in the US where more is automatically better. My thought? If you are going out of your way to choose a perfect piece of meat, then going to cook it lovingly, why would you slather it in a sauce that completely masks the flavor of the meat?

Dry the surface of your steaks before you put them on the heat. I do this for every protein that I want a good sear on - I dry the exterior with paper towels. Water on the surface of the steak makes it much harder to get a nice crust when you sear.

Let it Rest! The minute you take your steak off the heat, sizzling and gorgeous, is not the time to dig in. Give it a few minutes to relax before you dig in. You'll be rewarded with a juicier and more flavorful steak. Just remember that the bigger the steak, the longer it needs to rest.

Don't forget the wine. You may hear people talk about Cabernet Sauvignon with steak, but it's a pairing I'm often not very excited about. The Cabs I like drinking actually compete too much for my taste and I feel as though neither the steak nor the wine is being shown at its best. So what do I like with a steak? A juicy or even spicy red is more my style. A Syrah, a Rhone Blend, a bold Grenache, all please me more than a powerhouse Cabernet Sauvignon.

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