Welcome to the Sixteen Steaks project, in which I cook sixteen steaks sixteen ways, and in the process, learn everything I need to know to master their preparation.
I was lucky enough to win these ten ounce, free range top sirloin steaks from Country Natural Beef for an extremely reasonable bid in a silent auction at the Urban Farm Collective’s Annual Hoe Down benefit. I may never again be so well-rewarded for a charitable gift.
So, here we go: steak #1
The Big Idea: Marinate and grill the steak, then serve it over a crunchy salad with an Asian-stye dressing. This came from a cookbook my fabulous father sent me, which arrived (well timed!) just as I was contemplating what to do with my first steak. The book, Make It Paleo, is by the authors of The Food Lover’s Kitchen, where many of its recipes can be found, including this one.
Marinade: Once the steak was thawed, I put it in a Ziploc with some chopped ginger and garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper a little soy sauce, and a little fish sauce overnight. (This is the recipe from the cookbook.)
Grilling: How hard can it be? Let the steak sit at room temperature. Heat the grill, put the meat on, flip it. That’s it, right? Well, for starters, I think it helps if your grill gets hot. I let it pre-heat for a while and plopped the steak on, not realizing that the unfamiliar gas grill I was using was rather low on gas, leading to pretty anemic flames. (Not to give myself too much credit, I didn’t realize ’til later that this was what was going on.)
So it took a while to cook — in fact a little too long. To test the doneness, I tried to rely on the finger test, which I learned from a very grill-savvy friend. Clearly, I didn’t do a very good job of it, because there was not a hint of pink left when I cut into the steak.
While the meat was doing its pre-grill resting, I chopped up red cabbage, a red bell pepper, carrot, scallion, and a few cherry tomatoes for a salad and made a sesame-ginger dressing (sesame oil, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, chopped garlic, grated ginger, and a little soy sauce).I added a few blanched and sliced almonds to top it off. Once my well-done steak had sat for a few minutes, I sliced it up, put it on the salad, and dressed it.
The Verdict: Tasty! I enjoyed this meal, despite it representing what I hope will be a low-point in my steak preparation learning curve.
Notes for Next Time
- I need higher, more reliable heat for cooking steaks.
- I like the finger test for doneness, but as I improve my grill skills, I clearly need to double-check it by cutting into the steak. Hopefully that will speed my learning curve, so that I don’t need to do it by the time I hit #16.
- The marinade was very successful — the steak had a nice little kick to it, but it didn’t distract from the beef. Also went nicely with the parallel salad dressing.
- The firm, crunchy salad went well with the hot-off-the-grill steak, and I imagine would have been equally good with cold leftovers.
Questions to Ponder
- What makes a successful marinade? Acid levels? How long to let it soak? More or less appropriate for different kinds of meat?
- What else should I be doing for the perfect steak?
Thanks for reading! What do you think? Any and all comments on steaks, blogging, etc. are appreciated as I figure out how this project is going to look.
And stay tuned! Coming soon: fifteen more steaks, plus a special two-part recap of fruit preservation season.