Monday, February 26, 2007

One lonely steak.

Last night I was not working. I had already extinguished my desire for bar food with a lunch of hot wings and popcorn at Pacers in Lakewood. The availability of open restaurants was closing by the minute as we approached the nine o’clock hour, and the freezing rain eliminated most travel ideas. I want a steak!!! I exclaimed finally as if a great epiphany had come over me. This made things easy to sort out, here, there, the obvious suggestion was the Chop House. Well, this just wasn’t the solution I had in mind. Trucking through the rain downtown to the Chop House and it’s frozen bar top definitely wasn’t what I wanted when I stated, "I want steak."

Cooking a steak, seasoning it, and applying just the proper heat over a specific amount of time, that is what I wanted. I was not in search of just cooked meat. I had a desire for the process, a process that I carry out many times daily at the restaurant, but almost never for my self. In a very egotistical, selfish way I wanted me to cook a steak for myself. I wanted to look among a mound of meat and pick out just the right steak, a filet is what I wanted, and I wanted the perfectly cylindrical 3 inch thick, deep red piece of beef. I wanted to pat it dry and coat is with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. I like the way beef tasted when salted before cooking, it brings out a nice roundness, a wholeness across the palette. Some might argue that this salt helps dry out the meat, but I would trade the flavor for a 1/8 inch of "dryness." My steak wasn’t going on the hottest grill known to man, why would I do that? I want my filet to cook for about 9 minutes, and I demand that it be flipped over every time it is touched. Harold Mcgee explained that the moisture in a piece of meat rushes away from the flesh in which heat is being applied, and that the best way to cook a piece of meat on a grill would be to cook alternating sides, flipping every 38 seconds or so. Well, since I want beautiful cross hatch grill marks, I’m gonna let my filet sit for about 2 minutes before I turn it over. Rest is what is needed after such a intense application of heat. My steak is gonna be rosey and juicy throughout. I’m gonna hold back, and let that wonderful piece of meat work it’s magic on a molecular level redistributing moisture, and moving that salt around. After a few minutes, I like my filet sliced and sprinkled with a heavy pinch of Fluer de Sel.

This process, this wonderful interaction, these chemical processes and application of physics, this is what I meant when I exclaimed, "I want steak" When you understand each stage, each process, and the reasoning behind every step, then you can truly enjoy your cooked meat for what it is.

As for last nights meal, well..... how about a bottle of Sauza, and take-out from Chipotle, Chicken Burrito. A decant decision, at least it wasn’t Taco Bell.

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