Monday, January 3, 2011

Experiment Completed - The Result? More Experimentation Necessary

I was bouncing around the internet the other day when I stumbled across something that caught my attention.  It was a recipe (more of a method, really) for transforming humble choice grade supermarket steak into superbly tender and delicious gourmet works of culinary art.  The pictures that accompanied the method were food porn at its best.  Thick slabs of perfectly cooked beef, pink in the middle with a seasoned crust, topped with a pat of ever so slowly melting garlic and parsley butter.  I was seduced.

Mr. Willoughby is the steak-lover in our house, so we do have it from time to time because he enjoys it, but the kids and I don't normally get too excited about steak.  New York Strips, Porterhouse, T-bones and Ribeyes can be tasty, but also tough even when we marinate them.  Filets, though, are a different story.  Diminutive as they may be, I'd rather have a tender, juicy, four ounce gem of steak than a twelve ounce piece of shoe leather any day.  Sometimes, we'll buy a whole tenderloin and cut it into a dozen or more perfect little filets.  The only down side is that it can be expensive.

So back to the method of transforming cheap steaks into heavenly deliciousness.  It looked simple and inexpensive.  It involves generously salting both sides of each steak with coarse salt, letting them sit at room temperature for an hour per inch of thickness, then rinsing, patting dry and grilling (click here for complete instructions).  There is a scientific process that supposedly takes place to transform and tenderize your steaks.

We followed the instructions to the letter.  Our steaks were New York Strips, just under and inch thick, so we let them process for about 45 minutes.  As he took them out to grill them, Mr. Willoughby said they felt as tender as filets.  Our hopes were high.  A short while later, when he pulled them off the grill, the steaks did not look very promising.  They had shrunk to less than half of their original thickness.

Cutting into them was disappointing to say the least.  They were tough.  Not kinda tough, sorta tough or a tiny bit tough.  They were really tough!  I didn't get a picture, but I found one on Google Images that comes close.
On a tenderness scale, I'd give them a rating of shoe leather.  The flavor was nice, seasoned and flavorful yet not overly salty, but the texture made them nearly inedible.

We're not quite ready to admit defeat on this intriguing method.  We're willing to concede that the steaks were overcooked.  It had gotten dark outside and a flashlight doesn't give the best light for accurately  determining how cooked a steak may or may not be and the charcoal did flare up once or twice.  Beyond that, more experimentation is needed before we can say whether we may have over or under processed the meat before cooking or if this method simply doesn't work for us.

On a more positive note, I decided to make Yorkshire Pudding instead of bread or rolls to go with our steaks, and it turned out wonderfully.  I had never made Yorkshire Pudding before and I was worried that mine wouldn't puff up like they were supposed to due to my inexperience.  

My fears were unfounded.  They were puffed, airy and delicious!  You can find the recipe I used here.

Now that you've heard my experimental steak story, I want to hear from you.  Have you tried this method?  Did it work for you?  What is your favorite way to prepare and eat steak?



thamesarino said...

Too bad that it didn't work out for you. I have to admit that I read the article that you had referenced and I think the cut is important. I remember thinking I don't usually see a super thick steak that is actually cheap. If the steak has to be 1.5 to 2 inches thick... it will usually be more expensive...
I love a good steak, but we rarely splurge on them. It is too disappointing to eat them all leathery. My husband loves a shoe leather steak, but I like mine a good medium rare... and it's hard to do with thinner cuts of meat.
I hope you have more success next time! : )

Amy said...

Hello! I have been meaning to come by here so many times. I apologize for my shameful delay in visiting. You blog design is beautiful, I love it!

Your Yorshire Puddings look delicious. For the longest time I thought they were some kind of pudding & one day discovered my error! I never thought about making them...were they difficult?

Sorry to hear about the shoe leather. The idea sounded so promising. Steak is a popular menu item here and being able to make the cheaper kind very tasty would be wonderful! I'll continue to watch for any further attempts you make! Good Luck!

Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year for you and your family!
~ Amy

L.B. said...

I'm not a steak guy. I don't like meat anything but well done, so steak is just not appealing to me because it's often pink in the middle - blech. My favorite method of cooking steak is to make fajitas. I dice up the meat in slices, season it, and then toss it straight into my cast iron. Once it's not too red anymore, I toss in sliced red/yellow/orange/whatever bells, sliced onions, maybe some serrano or jalapeno peppers, and add cilantro as well. Yum!

5thsister said...

I'm the opposite of LB...stick a fork in it and if it still moos, then it's done enough!

Now about that Yorkshire mean it's not actually a pudding? No kidding! Who knew? Obviously not I.

Raoulysgirl said...

I've never tried this method (although I would have been intrigued by it, as well). We eat steaks pretty regularly throughout the summer...HOWEVER...I do NOT usually cook them. My sister is the steak cooker-person...not I. I will, on occasion, grill a decent steak...but I usually leave it up to her!!!

The Yorkshire Pudding looks mouthwateringly divine!!!!

lisleman said...

Best way to prepare and eat steak? - Get cleaned up and dressed, make reservations, and go to a great steak place. Eating is easy but sometimes you do need to slow down a little and pace yourself. Really the problem with my method is cost.

Nezzy said...

Hubs won't eat steak out anymore 'cause he says they can't beat mine. It helps when ya feed your own beef.

Thanks for the Yorkshire puddin' recipe. I'm gonna try it...never have before.

God bless ya and have a wonderful New Year sweetie!!!!

abby jenkins said...

Sorry to hear about the steaks but it gave you a great reason to make popovers so it wasn't a total loss.
BLT Steak, a restaurant in NY makes the best popovers, they top them with Gruyere, to add insult to injury. Try that next time, a holiday staple at our house.

Happy New Year!

Attila The Mom said...

And I always thought yorkshire pud was supposed to look like this:

abby jenkins said...

damn! I come back here and am craving popovers again! Can you do a post on dry salads? hahaha hope you are enjoying your day!

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

i am LAUGHING OUT LOUD !!!! that shoe came up and i just started laughing till tears came. too funny.

sounds like the steaks got over cooked. too bad. but nice going on the yorkshire pudding front.i have been making it since high school ....(54 years old now)i make the same recipe everytime. it is out of my favorite cookbook. A Treasury of Great Recipes by Mary and Vincent Price. long out of print..but worth seeking out..i have seen it on ALIBRIS...a website for out of print is still my favorite...and i have LOTS !!! but if you love will love it...

thanks for the laugh, my friend


elvira pajarola said...

oh, what an experience, Willoughby!!!!!

I do love indeed your yorkshire Pudding recipe.....I'd love to try it out as soon as I can...they look fabulous!!!!

We grill our "steaks" on the outdoor grill...almost always!!!
Any type or kind of steak turns out tender; i guess the chef, my hubby knows how to do it!!

ciao ciao elvira

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

about mary and vincent price...i know...i have seen big $$$ that some people are asking. i have also run into it in antique shops....well, that is pretty rare, actually. i ran onto one years ago for 10 bucks. i knew then i should have gotten it. keep looking around...i did get one for my best friend's b day and i had to pay 70.00....but you might see one pop up for is a great book though. i really think this book and julia child are amoung my favorites....

i'll look around too

let me know if you find one


Jenny said...

I'm not a red meat person so any advice I give would be terrible.

You could always throw the leftovers into gravy and simmer there for awhile!

Good luck with a method that works!