The CH3 Test Kitchen: The Steak
It satisfies the savage soul, to attack a singular piece of flesh, enhanced only by flame and the most basic of spice.
To eat a steak is to reconnect with our fanged ancestors, and to let the warmed red juices awaken the instincts dulled by conference calls and baby showers.
Is there any other food that evokes such strong memories, fond memories, of glorious meals past, yet time and again disappoints when made at home in the old kitchen?
You salivate at the recollection of that one night dining out with your Dad, he letting the Business expense go wild at Morton’s and allowing you to get the Bone-in Ribeye as well as the crab cocktail.
Maybe you were both three deep in the Maker’s doubles, and Pop loosened his tie and told stories of his own wild days just after college.
And you both sat there across from each other, stuffing dripping pink pieces of cowflesh into your already full mouths.
You relished the fact he was finally talking to you as an adult as much as he was enjoying a dialogue with no apparent sarcasm and eye rolling–good stuff!
So savory and orgasmic was the meal, you didn’t even notice that he just set you up on your own payment plan for that tremendous student loan.
So what happens, on that chilly Fall evening, when you think you’ll treat yourself to a steak dinner once again?
You take that styrofoam and shrink wrapped thing home from Pavillions and put it to flame, only to end up with a barely edible piece of gray matter:
And then what?
You trim around the gristle and white fat, determined to relive some of your past beef glories:
You sullenly hack at this piece of crap, desperately searching for some sort of grain and color that will honor those dear nights.
And, then, there ya sit, chewing and chewing away, less the cow and cud and more the crack whore absentmindedly soothing her gums on the last used condom of the night.
And as the stringy meat slowly dissolves into a swallowable paste, so too go all the ideals and honor of youth.
New York Strip Steak, 12 Oz
Ground Black Pepper
Well, here’s your first goddamn mistake!
You bought your meat at the corporate grocery store down the street, am I right?
It’s a well known fact that the beef sold in the majors these days is laden with hormone and corn by-product, and government standard and code has been loosely translated and diluted enough that most of the beef you are buying here is actually jackal or coyote meat.
Yeah, yeah–I know: but it’s a third off, and you’ll be cooking it right up, and it might not be so bad with some dry rub and, gee, maybe that girl you met on the internet will turn out to be an actual female this time, and…
Wake Up dummy!
Come with us to a real beef slinger, yeah?
You got it, a cathedral of all things recently deceased and delicious, Huntington’s own Beef Palace!
Maybe you’ve seen it, as you rolled down Warner on your way to Johnny’s for the ink-n-drink Pabst rally, eh?
You pull into the parking lot and go past the odd bovine sentries standing guard….
…and you pull the door open to enter the magical land of protein!
The paneled walls shimmer with the Aurora Borealic glow that comes from the pristine glass displays.
You walk along the hallways of flesh, your mouth barely containing the drool as you see–yes, yes–now you understand! how an animal is respectfully dismantled and displayed for its ultimate glory!
Choose yer meat:
Oh, I know the Ribeye, that drunken slut of the slaughterhouse is all the rage these days, but forget it.
Most homes simply don’t have the proper heat to sear and caramelize the ridiculous rivulets of fat running thorough that bitch.
And don’t get us started on that goddamn Filet Mignon!
Flavorless and superior, these useless cuts are the Queensryche of the meat world.
No, the true measure of a quality butcher shop is revealed in the humble New York Strip!
Be cool to the fellas, as in any drug deal, and let them know you know the score.
Hesitate at the glass for a few minutes before asking if there might be something, you know, special going on in the back?
And if you didn’t blow it like a high school narc with nose hairs they’ll bring out a properly aged hunk of meat, all concentrated flavors and blue sheen, and hack a slice off the end:
Approximating the space between thumb and forefinger you hold up, a bold gang sign of appetite and belief.
From Bukowski’s Ham on Rye (Harper Collins, 1982):
“Now the way you fry a porterhouse steak,” he told the class, “you get the pan red hot, you drink a shot of whiskey and then you pour a thin layer of salt in the pan. You drop the steak in and sear it but not for too long. Then you flip it, sear the other side, drink another shot of whiskey, take the steak out and eat it immediately.”
But you know what? He’s not far off.
We’re gonna be using a cast iron pan, lots of heat, and yeah-there might be a snort or two……!
Oh, I know you’re tempted to fire up the ol’ Weber and grill this treasure outside, but don’t do it!
First off, that thing is disgusting, dripping black stalactites of Bratwurst fat, and the carbonized bits of Mahi Mahi from last June’s wicky wacky luau will only contaminate this honorable meat.
Besides, you know how it always happens out at the grill, admit it:
You start out vigilant over the flame, beer in hand, but pretty soon it’s Jack and Cokes over round three of fooseball, and dinner has suddenly become a chunk of coal on the flaming kettle as you hit the speed dial for fuckin Domino’s!
Yeah, we see ya!
No, cast iron and some finish up in the oven is all we’re looking for here brother.
And even though this is just for a single steak, let’s still use the big pan so as to let the meat sizzle, not steam!
I’m thinking any pan approximately the size of a live vinyl recorded with a drunken German pickup band will do just fine:
Preheat the oven to 375, and put that pan to flame pal!
Now, your old pals at the CH3 Test Kitchen would never recommend you leaving the oven on and a glowing red pan on the range as you skipped out for a cocktail, but let’s go ahead and do just that:
Maybe just one Sazerac and a pilsner and we’ll be right back, yeah?
House still standing?
Alright, things go fast at this point, so pay attention and turn off the TV set, will ya?
Don’t worry, your beloved Sons of Anarchy will still be there when we’re done cooking, bad acting and atrocious dialogue intact!
Our pal needs nothing more than a massage with olive oil, some coarse salt and black pepper.
And now, meat to pan!
This pan is fucking hot, so only cook each side as long as you can hold your breath or as long as it takes to text your boss and let him know what’s really wrong with his precious company, ya hear me, your majesty?!
Don’t forget to sear off the sides and render that delicious fat!
And now we just pop the whole thing in the oven and step back, letting the convection heat finish this project, 297 seconds, tops!
In the meantime, all we need to do is steam some asparagus in the micro and poach an egg.
We haven’t covered these basics yet?
Well, yer on your own, this goddamn posting is already too long—we’re supposed to be a punk rock band site, remember?! sheesh!
Take out our jewel and let rest for 8 minutes, roll out the asparagus in the delicious pan drippings, and plate!
Look at it, it’s a thing of beauty!
And as you sit down with a rascally Zin and Apocolypse Now, Redux on the flat screen, you sigh the contented exhalation of a man who has honored his carnivorous ghosts and mastered the meat……..!