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Mesa, AZ US
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The Largent Laws of Steak (My Carnivorous Manifesto)
Written By Christopher Hansen
I know that in writing this, I may be blowing the topic way out of proportion. However, you must understand that this subject is in my blood, and not just as cholesterol. You see, my grandfather on my mothers side was a cattle rancher in Oklahoma. While Grandpa Topper died in a plane crash before I was born, his respect for quality beef, and rules of how to treat it, stayed alive and well in his three daughters and wife. They, in turn, passed it to their children.
I feel that perhaps this ingrained family connection is responsible for my, some would say odd passion for what is for most, simply a meal. A piece of meat. For me however, quality beef represents the back breaking work of the ranchers, and of course the ultimate sacrifice of a noble animal. These feelings lead to moments of disappointment when I see a beautiful steak over-cooked, poked, covered in sauce&abused. So, I have decided to share The Largent Laws of Steak. Some of these are passed down from Topper, to my mother and grandmother, to me. Others are guidelines I have added from reading books and articles written by professional chefs.
1. Start with quality product- You cant polish a turd. Find a prime steak with a good amount of thin, intramuscular fat. Prime is the name given by the government that denotes the highest of the eight levels of beef quality. Also, dont be afraid of any brown spots you might see. That brown color means that the meet has dry-aged. Aging reduces the water content of the steak, thus strengthening the beef flavor. It also allows natural enzymes to breakdown the proteins, making the beef more tender.
2. Filet is French for big waste of money- I know, I know. You were raised believing that filet is the superior cut. You are wrong. In the words of Anthony Bourdain, filet is the Paris Hilton of steaks: No fat, and not much personality. Yes it is very tender, but since it has such little fat, you sacrifice flavor. Rib-eye, in my opinion, is the best steak available. It has enough fat to impart a great, deep beef flavor, and is still tender enough for most people.
3. Salt. Pepper. Done. - Few things make me angrier than watching somebody take a beautiful, expensive rib-eye, and start covering it in some top-secret seasoning blend before slapping it on their Webber. You are not barbequing a brisket. All you need, and I mean ALL you need to add to a great steak is fresh-cracked, coarse pepper, and kosher salt. Salt once, a few hours before cooking, again right before cooking, and then right before serving, sprinkle on a SMALL amount of good sea salt. Also, if you want the full steak house experience, finish each steak with a small amount of butter. This is a little practice that most steak houses do, and lets be honest: the only thing that can make a great steak even better, is butter&and maybe bacon, but thats a different article.
4. Leave Webber Outta This- Now this is simply a matter of taste, but I personally believe that steak is best cooked not on the outdoor grill as most people do, but in a pan (preferably cast-iron) at a high temperature with oil and/or butter. This will sear the meat, caramelizing the meats natural sugars on the outside. This is part of what separates the okay steaks you grill at home from the amazing ones you get at a good steak house.
5. Give it Five Minutes- Most people (and unfortunately many restaurants) will take a steak off the heat, and immediately serve it. This is wrong. When you think your steak is almost done, remove it from the heat, put it on a plate, and walk the hell away. Dont touch it. Dont even look at it. While you let it rest for five minutes, it will continue to cook and do magical things that will please the beef gods who will then, surely smile upon you.
6. A1 is the Devil- A little warning to future dining partners: if at any point, I see you in the process of applying this condiment of Satan to your beautiful, well-cooked steak&lets just say my name will be on the news. I see it as an insult to the chef, the cow, and the person who raised and processed that cow. I know you think I am over-reacting, and maybe I am. I just believe that steak sauce, while I enjoy it on many things that are not steak, has a bold flavor that gets in the way of the natural taste of the beef that people work so hard to obtain. Just my two cents. You are more than welcome to be wrong.
7. If You Want Well Done, Get the Chicken- Let me be clear, a steak cooked above medium is a waste of the chefs time, and a waste of a good piece of meat. It will be tough, and the flavor will be nowhere near as good. Put on your big-boy-pants, and deal with the pink in the middle.
So, I hope this obnoxious diatribe was useful if only for a laugh. But I do want you to remember two things: First, that rib eye youre eating means something. It represents generations of strong cattle ranchers and butchers. Your meal is the product of a work ethic that it seems is slowly disappearing as we move further from small ranches and more and more towards the giant companies that go for quantity over quality. The ones that do it the hard way, even when it means making less money, are showing attitudes, and trades passed down through generations. Finally, we must never forget the sacrifice of a beautiful and noble animal. I just think that if we are to partake in this or any other food for that matter, we must show it the respect it deserves.
This is my only published piece (so far). It's about my, some might say, odd passion of great steak, my family's connection to the beef industry, and rules I live by in regards to it's preparation.
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