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June 18, 2007 / Tony

One hell of a steak

I started with a NY Strip steak, about 8 oz. and approximately 3/4′ thick.  I put a generous amount of kosher salt on both sides and let it sit out for about 1/2 hour, while my grill was heating up.  The charcoal was igniting in my Weber charcoal chimney, which I had filled about 3/4 of the way up.  When the coals were ready, I decided not to drop the coals into the grill.  Instead, I simply put the grate right on top of the chimney.  In effect, I was creating a very hot mini-grill.  (Hats off the Alton Brown for showing me this technique).  I decided to do this because the steak was so thin.  I wanted to get a nice crusty exterior without having a well done steak.  And the only way I saw to do that was to increase the heat available for cooking.  Hence, the idea to cook the steak over the chimney.  Notice, I did not pepper the steak prior to grilling.  If you know me, I am a pepper fiend and probably am guilty of using too much pepper in many of my dishes.  But, pepper will burn and I can think of few culinary reasons to burn food, so I could not in good conscience put pepper over the chimney.  Then, I grilled.  It only took about 1 1/2 minutes per side to cook.  I got a nice brown on both sides and when I cut into it, the steak was at a pleasant medium.  As a topping, I used some Hope Creamery butter and some pepper.  Pretty simple but it was a match made in heaven.  The creaminess and richness of the butter was a perfect compliment to the meatiness of the beef.  It was simply one of the best pieces of steak I had ever eaten. 

One note about the butter.  I take pains to use good ingredients whenever opportunity and budget allow.  This butter, apart from some high-fat European butters, is some of the best butter I have ever eaten.  I heard about it on NPR years ago and after finally getting my hands on some (I can only find it in the Twin Cities), I can safely say it is worth the expense and the trouble of getting it.  It does have a higher fat content than your supermarket varieties and due to the peculiar churning process (the details of which I do not recall), the butter is simply creamier and somehow more wholesome tasting than average brands.  If you ever get a chance to taste or bake or cook with it, do so.  You won’t be disappointed. 

One more note on butter:  Forget margarine or any other type of butter substitute.  There is no health benefit (I’ll try to do a post on this later) and the taste is vastly inferior to the real thing.  Butter may be a bit more expensive but considering the gain in culinary advantage, it is a cost you should absorb happily. 

With the steak, I made one of my standard dishes:  home fries.  It is a “homely” dish, I suppose, but when made right, they are so satisfying and comforting that I really can’t think of a better side dish.  First, I should define what I’m talking about.  Home fries, to me, mean potato cubes about 1/2 inch in diameter that have been pan fried in butter and oil with onions.  Parsely, paprika and other seasonings are optional.  The trouble with these potatoes is getting them cooked all the way through without burning the outside.  The solution to this problem is to parboil the cut potatoes in salted water for about 6-7 minutes, depending on how thick your potato cubes are.  Then drain, let sit for about a minute to let some moisture evaporate, and then put them in a heated pan with a good deal of butter and olive oil (1:1 ratio).  Let them sit there for 5 minutes without moving, so you can get a really nice crust on one side of the potatoes.  Then, add some julienne onions and begin tossing the pan every few minutes until the potatoes are cooked through and have a nice cripsy exterior.  Of course, you are adding salt and pepper to the pan and yes, you can add paprika (which adds nice color and a good deal of flavor) or parsley as a garnish.  I suppose you could add whatever spice you wanted since the potato is so versatile.  But for me, I like the simplicity of just potatoes, onions, salt and pepper.  Last note, I was using Yukon Gold potatoes with the skins on.  These should give you the tastiest potatoes. 


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