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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Grilled Ribeye (a guest post by Michael)

Yesterday, we visited our favorite butcher shop in Chicago, the Paulina Meat Market. Our visit was impromptu and mainly out of necessity; after returning from our trip to New Orleans we had nothing in the house to eat for lunch. We needed some good lunch meat. Upon entering the market, Danielle and I glanced at each other as we took in the wonderful smell of smoked meat and spices. No words needed. I'm notorious for shopping on an empty stomach, returning home with a variety of obscure treats that get tossed into their various storage spaces, only to remain there until they fossilize. This excursion could easily fit the pattern.

Thankfully, this time Danielle was with me. Still, for the most part, I was undaunted. Usually, when I enter PMM, there is quite a wait which gives me plenty of time to formulate my strategy (and sample some of the goodies they've set out for customers). Unfortunately, just as I was pulling a "31" from the little pig dispenser, they announced "28." Oh shit, I thought. I quickly started scanning the meat case. Pork, Lamb, Beef, Chicken, sausages (at least 10 varities), smoked meats, lunch meats, in that order. I knew that once we got to the lunch meats we'd have plenty of time to think (because of all the slicing that takes place), so my immediate focus became large items suitable for grilling. Then I heard someone yell "31." The moment of truth. Why do I create pressure out of nonsense? Should I buy the rack of lamb? The beautiful porterhouse with the full filet? No, no, look at that standing rib roast. Wow, that looks fantastic.

I asked the butcher to slice me two steaks both about 1.75-2.0 inches thick. I failed to tell him to leave the bone-in, which resulted in another moment of panic when I thought he removed the bone. Thank god he didn't. Unfortunately, most Americans only experience rib-eyes in their boneless variety, which is a real travesty. The only way to eat this steak is with the bone-in.

After purchasing the steaks, of course we proceeded to fill our basket with ox-tail for soup, various lunch meats, bacon, and, oh yeah, a fresh duck.

When we got back home, I unwrapped the steaks . These things had more marble than the Louvre. I decided to make steak au poivre. First I applied coarse salt on both sides. Then I minced three cloves of garlic and rubbed it on. I also crushed a small handful of tellicherrry peppercorns and sprinkled them on both sides of the steaks. I didn't completely coat the steaks with pepper, like they do at Les Halles in New York but I was still pretty liberal. Finally, I drizzled olive oil on the steaks and let them sit for a few hours at room temperature.

Since we're now in the throes of global warming, it was a perfect December night for grillin' and chillin'. I poured a stiff Manhattan and headed outdoors. I set all three burners to high and let the grill preheat. Once it was an extremely hot 550+ degrees, I threw the steaks on, reduced the heat to medium-high and closed the lid. I let the steaks cook unabated for about 6 minutes. Even with the lid closed the steaks were getting charred, just how we like them. I then flipped the steaks and let them go for another 5 minutes or so, on  direct heat. Then, I cranked the heat back to high and placed them on an elevated rack, with the lid closed for another 7 minutes or so.

With all the marbelization, these steaks tend to generate significant flames. This is good. When these cuts are cooked at moderate heat, they arrive on a plate with significant helpings of gelatinous fat a la prime rib. I think this is kind of gross. Extreme heat melts and burns off much of the fat. Also, whereas, I prefer most steaks Pittsburgh-style (charred but rare), over the years I've learned that these steaks are actually delicious when done medium-well. Because of the marbelization, the meat is still incredibly moist and tender even though it is thoroughly cooked.

Note from Danielle:

Michael asked me to make a Bordelaise sauce for the steaks. That's our favorite accompaniment at Mancy's, the best steakhouse in Toledo. I found a recipe in the New York Times cookbook, made a few adjustments (due to lack of ingredients in the house), and ended up with a damn good sauce (that photographs HORRIBLY, please ignore the shiny pink sauce). I also made roasted garlic mashed potatoes and roasted cauliflower. Oh, and a salad.

Bordelaise Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons finely minced shallots (I used dehydrated onion, b/c I was lazy)
3/4 cup dry red wine
1-1/2 cups brown sauce or canned beef gravy (I quickly made some beef gravy using beef broth and a roux)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced parsley (I omitted)
salt and cayenne pepper to taste (I used black pepper instead)
3/4 cup sliced mushrooms, cooked in a little butter (optional, and I left them out)

Melt the butter in a small pot and cook shallots until transparent. Add the wine and simmer until it is reduced by half. Add the remaining ingredients and cook on very low heat until it is the desired thickness. (We cooked it for over an hour because we had the time available and because we wanted it very thick. If you want a thick sauce but do not have an hour to spare, you can easily thicken it with roux.)

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