Monday, September 07, 2009

Try A Little Tenderness

I'm heading off to Miami today for a show- I'll be gone a week- so here's the post of the ridiculously off-the-hook steak we had the other night to tide you over until I get back. It's a perfect example of how the simplest ingredients can attain perfection when they're properly sourced, grown, and prepared. In this case, a seriously badass steak and a bunch of just-picked vegetables. Sounds pretty average, right? But oh, what glory.

One last quick play for immortality before all the details: please click here, find "Cookblog," (still holding at #3) and award me the number of hats that you fell this humble effort deserves. I'm going to predict that you're feeling generous, and elated at the prospect of reading about one of the 3 best steaks I've ever eaten, so you'll vote 5 hats and then rush back to read all about it.

We went to Chris and Sirkka's house for dinner, bringing the raspberry tart from the last post and a couple of bottles of wine. Chris had been to Fleisher's earlier and came back with one of their amazing dry-aged top sirloins. We wandered out into their garden- outperforming ours by a long shot, as usual- and figured out what to eat with the meat. We settled on a purée of celery root, turnip, and potato, a shaved beet and fennel salad, and braised turnip greens with collards and bonito shavings. For the beets and fennel, we shaved them on a mandoline, and then kneaded them with salt until they gave up copious liquid, followed by a thorough rinsing, squeezing, and dressing with ume and brown rice vinegars, olive oil, and soy sauce. This salt-kneading results in a texture that's half-crunchy, half, silky, and it's sublime. The quality and freshness of their vegetables made it an eye-opener.

Now, the steak. Here's Chris showing that it was in fact just about as big as his head:

We used the slow-sear in butter method to get a serious crust on this slab o' joy, then removed it to a cutting board. It was at this moment that I was seized by an impure thought of extraordinary magnitude: they had some of my lardo on hand, so I grated it on top and let it melt in to all the crevices of the maillardy madness:

A sprinkle of truffle salt, on the meat, a quick pan sauce of red wine deglazing the buttery pan and thickening for a minute or two, and we got down to business:

This combination of food was for all of us one of the best things we've ever eaten. The astonishing steak, the sweet, creamy, complex purée, the earthy, slightly smoky greens, and the half-pickled beets and fennel- perfection. A bite of meat with a little sauce and salad was honestly one of the all-time greatest bites of food in my life so far, and easily as magic in its own way as the ethereal Wagyu we had at Alinea in June.

The moral of the story is grow your own, and buy humanely raised, grass-fed meat from local farmers. With some gentle interventions, you'll eat the best food in the world.


Zoomie said...

Yes, yes, indeed.

Heather said...

Jesus Christ, enough with the campaigning. And you gave me shit for my one post asking for a vote in that damn pizza contest.

Chris looks worried. I take it that sexy steak fit in his gob just fine?

peter said...

Zoomie: Ditto.

Blanche: Jealous much? He was more "Duuuude!" than "Duuuuude."