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Meat Infusion

July 25, 2009
Sunday night griliing.
Zucchinis, onions, rainbow chard, and garlic.
Local, organic steak in a maple & brown sugar rub.

This weekend, the boy needed meat. Real meat. Red meat. I got the hint when I asked him to pick up more chicken breast at my favorite butcher, and his response was “Just…chicken?”

Sigh. Here in lies one of those anthropological observations of the differences between us.

I grew up on chicken. Chicken Parm, grilled chicken, marinated chicken, chicken fajitas, chicken with pasta – I LOVED chicken. Which was a damn good thing, because it was a definite staple in a household of 1 parent and 3 kids.

Red meat, by which I mean steak, was special occasion food. Is a special occasion food. That makes sense to me. The only time you ordered steak at a restaurant was on a special occasion (this came hand in hand with the rule that you always order the cheapest or second cheapest thing on the menu when someone takes you out…how the boy misses my obedience to that rule). My birthdays meant prime rib at The Pub (my definition of fine dining until 2001), and steaks on the grill meant people were coming over, or it was a Memorial/Labor/4th of kinda celebration.

However, the husband grew up with a bit of a different style. I noticed this when we got to the dating “dinner with the parents” phase. I don’t mean the initial “meet the parents” phase, but the “we’re both in college and live sort of local, lets let our parents feed us for free” phase. I’d never seen someone who so frequently would pick up steaks to just “throw on the grill.” And it wasn’t just the obvious tastiness of steak that was nice – it was convenient, quick (since we all eat our steak at a respectable mid-rare), and impressive-seeming without the hours of marinating or creativeness that chicken can require.

So in our house, we’ve compromised. The boy starts longingly mentioning meat-centric meals and I get the hint. Its even easier when it’s a Sunday night and I have time to really put things together.

Grilled Meat
Serves 2-3

This time around I used a boneless top sirloin strip, but any thin cut loins would work well for the grill. A london broil would be nice too, since its cheaper and hearty enough to grill well.

The rub was 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 maple sugar, with 2 minced garlic cloves and 2 tblsp cayenne pepper. Remember that when you’re cooking meat that’s been stored in the fridge, bring it to room temperature (usually about 30 minutes) before subjecting it to the heat of the oven, stove or grill.

If you stick a cold, dense piece of meat in a hot pan or oven, you risk drying out the exterior of the meat before you’ve given the inside a chance to cook through. Bringing it to room temperature gives the meat a better chance at cooking evenly. And if you can’t, then as a last resort, reduce the heat to allow it to cook more slowly without drying out.

Place on a preheated grill that’s about 400 degrees for 4-6 minutes on each side. Remove from heat, and let sit for 5 minutes so the juices can redistribute. It’s OK if the steak feels like its a bit more on the rare side when you remove it from the grill, because it’ll continue cooking as it sits (and you don’t want it to get over cooked during this “sitting” period).

As an aside, we need to talk about Grilled Corn, particularly since last night I moved from a talented corn griller to a master of the trade.

For each ear of corn, you’ll need:

2 tblsp brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
Kosher salt to taste

Remove the husks, wash, and clean the corn. In a bowl, mix together softened butter and brown sugar.

On 1 sheet of foil per ear of corn, smooth the brown sugar/butter mix onto the bottom of the middle of the foil, and place the ear of corn on top. Sprinkle kosher salt onto the corn, then wrap snugly.

Place packet over grill – high flames are fine, since the corn is well protected and any flares ups are just caramelizing the corn further. Cook, with cover down, on medium setting 25 to 30 minutes, turning with tongs frequently.

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