First, thanks you guys so much for all of your love and support regarding my last post. USC peeps, I fortell a Yogurtland meetup, what say you?
I’m really loving the Crossfit! I haven’t been so inspired to work out since last summer. Those promo videos with someone sprawled out on the floor and wheezing? Totally true. But what I love about this gym is that you are always encouraged, not drill sergeanted at.
Ok, onto the meaty matters of this post. This isn’t a pun. When I look at food blogs I see plenty of recipes for vegan fare, a decent amount of great chicken recipes, and a smattering of good seafood. Oh, and bacon sneaks in when somoene’s feeling frisky. What I rarely see is my favorite meat of all: beef. Ok, maybe my real fav is duck, camel, or venison, but I’m sticking to something that’s easily buyable. Why? Because once I’m done with this post, hopefully some of you will be racing out to grab the closest sirloin.
For those of you abstain from beef for ethical reasons, I won’t argue. I find factory farms disgusting and try my hardest to buy grass-fed. But those who abstain for health might want to look a little deeper than the vegan website that claims meat rots in your guts. Cuz no, it doesn’t. Red meat is a highly nutritious food that contains iron, zinc, phosphorous, B vitamins, protein, and if the source is grass-fed, some CLAs and Omega 3s. Fattier cuts like roast are not bad for you either as long as you remember fattier = more caloric.
The one caveat against health I have is corn-fed beef. Corn-fed cattle are pumped up with hormones to grow faster and antibiotics to keep them alive until slaughter, since corn slowly kills them. I don’t see hormones as a problem, as they don’t pass the blood-brain barrier. Antibiotics are another matter. The overuse of antibiotics in America have and are leading to resistant strains of bacteria. We don’t need to be helping out future plagues. Or winding up with antibiotic-resistant salmonella because some dumbass at the meat packing plant let some bad pork get by. That said, if you are eating a variety of animals, the exposure should be minimal. If you’re eating grass-fed, antibiotic-free beef you’re in the clear.
Another argument against beef is the cost. I’m not rolling in filet mignon all day. I almost always go for cheaper cuts of beef and keep an eye open for sales. Stew meat tastes amazing if you put it in a slow cooker with tomatoes, peas, and Guinness. Tough fillets can be softened with an acidic marinade and cut thin for fajitas. And, ultimately, I put a lot of stock in the phrase “Pay the farmer or pay the doctor.”
But I want to talk about one of my favorite incarnations of beef — steak. I don’t usually buy sexy New York strips or manly ribeyes. I tend to go for sirloin and other more economical cuts. Thing is, sirloin can be tough if prepared improperly. When I want a steak dinner, here’s what I do:
– Salt the beef. To make tough, cheap meet nice and juicy, coat it in kosher salt (or any other flaky, chunkier salt — NOT table salt). A better explanation of this is found here. I’ve used this trick since I was old enough to use cast iron. Coat the steak in 1/2 – 1 tsp of salt per side and let it hang out for awhile. A 1-inch steak can sit for an hour. Up the time for thicker steak. Basically, the salt draws out excess moisture and breaks down the proteins. After the steak has rested for the allotted time, rinse well and pat dry. Get that thing DRY. The rest time also allows the steak to get to room temperature so it cooks more evenly.
– Sear. You know how restaurant steaks have that crunchy seal on them? It’s because they have been seared. First get a pan on the stove and get the heat up high. Cast iron is the best for this — if you have a non-stick pan, please make sure it’s built to withstand heat. Also, crack open a window and turn on the fan in case it gets smoky. Get some high-heat cooking fat like coconut oil or tallow and rub a bit into each side of a steak. Once the pan is hot, drop those steaks in. You will know it’s hot enough when the steaks sound like they are being cooked in the fires of hell. Sear for about one minute on each side. This also burns off all the outer bacteria so you can cook your steak rare and not be concerned with contamination. You can skip this step and still have a nice steak, but I like the crust.
– Oven Prep. There is a great debate about broiling verses baking. I prefer to broil because it’s closer to grilling (the real man’s way to cook beef). But before you stick your meat under a broiler, disable your fire alarm…oooh wait, you might not know how or you might be worried about filling your apartment with smoke. Here’s how to prevent that!
Take a broiling pan (the pan that has a slitted covering), line with foil, and pour salt in the bottom. It doesn’t need a ton, just enough to evenly cover the bottom. If you don’t have a broiling pan, you can use a muffin pan. I’m not joking. Fill the cups with salt and be careful not to let the steak fall in. The salt catches the drippings and doesn’t let them burn. Granted, you won’t be able to make a gravy, but you save yourself smoke or explaining to a landlord why the fire alarm looks abused.
– Broil. Get that broiler on high and move the rack six inches from the top. Take the chance now to season your steaks as you wish. Go easy on the salt since a little bit now lives in the meat. Once the oven’s raring to go, slide in your steaks, but leave the door ajar. Broil times do vary based on thickness, cut, and if it’s grass-fed or corn-feed. Corn-fed beef takes longer because it’s fattier. Here is a timetable guide (this is for corn-fed, to take a minute or so off for grass-fed).
– Rest. Do NOT dive into these meaty wonders just yet. The juices are hopping and will drain right out if you cut them now. Instead, take the steaks out, burn off broiler, and gently put the steaks on a plate. Tent with foil and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Make some broccoli or something.
– Feast. Savor the deliciousness of Bos primigenius.