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Here’s the Beef: Carnivores Rejoice

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My cousin Nancy, “The Vegan Voice,” is co-author on our blog Lazaro Cooks!. She provides our readers with her fantastic, original, superbly constructed vegan recipes. Conversely, I am the resident carnivore. With that in mind, I was rather horrified when I realized that I had yet to write a beef article for Blogcritics. This incredibly gross, negligent oversight on my part was happily rectified tonight. Suffice to say that this is an ode to my beef-loving brethren — sorry, Prima!

Beef does the body good. Perhaps that is a bit hyperbolic, but it does fit well into a balanced diet. When I require red meat I go to see the butcher, not the supermarket. Go where the experts are. Butchers are generally extremely proud of the products in their establishments. They are willing counselors on any questions regarding the different cuts or the plethora of ways to cook them. Every butcher I have had the pleasure of meeting can talk about beef for hours. This kind of personal service cannot be experienced in a chain supermarket.

Please, for the sake of decency, never purchase beef in a wrapped package. Part of the experience is purchasing a cut of meat you can hold, smell, caress, talk to… okay, that last bit will certainly get you noticed at the butcher shop. Look for meat with a bare minimum of outer creamy white fat. The meat should be firm, first-rate textured, and a light cherry red. Avoid meat with too much marbling, or thick ropes of fat, for this will be quite sinewy once cooked. On the other hand, beef with no fat is bland and insipid. Fat provides the meat with moisture that melts during the cooking process. It is this wondrous chemical reaction that imparts the signature meaty goodness we love in a succulent, debaucherous steak.

My personal favorite is certified organic Hereford cattle. Originally from Herefordshire, England, United Kingdom, it can now be found in over fifty countries. Hereford beef was first raised in the United States in Kentucky by politician Henry Clay. Organic cattle are born and raised with respect and dignity. Grazing on organic, pristine pastures, they roam free in the sunshine, with unrestricted access to food and clean water. In order to be certified organic, no pesticide, herbicides, or synthetic fertilizers can be applied to fields or pastures. In short, you can take solace in the fact that the animal that gave its life for your consumption reveled in a happy, stress-free existence, at the same time being assured that it was not treated with growth hormones, steroids, or antibiotics.

After taking meticulous care in purchasing your meat, find a great role model to help you cook it. Mine is Joel Robuchon. Chef Robuchon was voted Chef of the Century in France and currently holds the maximum three Michelin stars. Have I ever met the man, or worked for him? No, I have not. Yet his influence on my cuisine is undeniable. His book, The Complete Robuchon, is my food bible. The book has no illustrations. However, the erudition contained is all-encompassing for the passionate, eager cook. Chef Robuchon teaches that before you can even contemplate cooking a steak, you must have three things: a heavy-bottom pan, a rack, and Fleur de Sel.

Steaks are cooked at high temperatures and heavy-bottom pans conduct heat better while keeping their shape. The fact that the pan will not warp ensures even cooking throughout. Resting is a pivotal and often overlooked part of the cooking process. When meat cooks the juices are drawn to the center. Resting allows the meat to open up and redistribute those juices. Resting time should be exactly half the cooking time. Placing a wire rack over a plate provides the steak a place to sit and any excess juices to fall away. Why take the time to perfectly char the surface area of the meat, and then allow it to sit in a pool of liquid? The goal of the exercise is to have a crusty exterior. Lastly, Fleur de Sel is a hand-harvested French sea salt. The name comes from the aroma of violets that comes into being as the salt dries. Never salt meat before cooking; it draws out moisture and impedes the browning process. Fleur de Sel dissolves fast, making it perfect to sprinkle on meat during the resting period.

Tonight I purchased an organic Hereford strip steak. The strip steak or NY strip comes from the short loin, a section of meat located along the back, behind the ribs. It is an area of the cattle that does not get much exercise, making it a tender cut. The following straightforward recipe is for a 16-ounce strip steak.

 

Strip Steak & Onions

 

 

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Remove the steak from the refrigerator ten minutes before cooking. Season the steak with ground coriander, black pepper, onion powder, and cane sugar. In a heavy-bottom pan, heat one teaspoon of canola oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil slowly shimmers, add two teaspoons of butter. When the butter begins to foam, gently lay the steak on the pan. If you do not hear a sizzle, get the steak off, the pan is not hot enough! Cook for two minutes. Turn the steak with a spatula; please do not puncture with a fork. While cooking for two minutes on the second side, slightly tilt the pan and use a spoon to baste the steak with the oil-butter mixture. Transfer the pan to the oven to cook for about 8 minutes.

Doneness on a steak can only be judged by feel. The easiest guidelines to remember are directly correlated to the human face. If it feels like your cheek; then it is rare. If it feels like your chin; then it is medium. Finally, if it feels like your forehead; throw it out because it’s tough as old boots, well done.

To finish the dish, take the pan out of the oven, and with the spatula lay the steak on the rack to rest. While the meat is on the rack, season both sides with the Fleur de Sel. Visit your local butcher today and have a remarkably meaty dining experience.

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About Lazaro Cooks

  • http://joannehuspek.wordpress.com Joanne Huspek

    Damn, Dude, that is one yummy looking hunk o’ beef. My mouth is watering like you wouldn’t believe.

    I too am a shameless carnivore, although I try to stay away from cheap cuts of beef. If you’re going to eat it, you’re right, best taken from a butcher.

    My current red meat du jour is bison. Now there’s a steak!

  • http://joannehuspek.wordpress.com Joanne Huspek

    Damn, Dude, that is one yummy looking hunk o’ beef. My mouth is watering like you wouldn’t believe.

    I too am a shameless carnivore, although I try to stay away from cheap cuts of beef. If you’re going to eat it, you’re right, best taken from a butcher.

    My current red meat du jour is bison. Now there’s a steak!

  • http://lazarocooks.blogspot.com/ Lazaro

    Joanne…Bison is gorgeous agree 100%. Also Elk is a current favorite of mine. These wonderful game meats will be the focus of future articles. Thank you very much for your kind words and support!

  • http://www.citronetvanille.com/blog citronetvanille

    Even though not really a meat eater, I enjoyed reading your article, sometimes I have to cook it. I can see you know your cuts and the best meats like a pro. I just love Joel Robuchon, he is one of the greatest! Beautiful presentation!

  • Issa Sarza

    I am a prolific meat-eater too and being this way, I take time in choosing meat products for the meals I cook. So I buy organic meat and poultry whenever I get the chance to buy them at our local organic market. Like you, I also take solace in the fact that the animal I am eating lived a happy, stress-free life and that they were not given any harmful chemical stuff. :)

  • http://lazarocooks.blogspot.com/ LazaroCooks!

    Silvia…Thank you. That is high praise coming from someone who presents food as perfectly as you do. Chef Robuchon is incredible, what a talent. Thank you for commenting on the article.

  • http://lazarocooks.blogspot.com/ LazaroCooks!

    Issa Sarza…Agreed. I do take solace in knowing that the animal did have a happy life. Thank you for taking the time to comment on my article.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Lazaro,

    Excellent article.

    I wouldn’t be able to use your recipe. Kosher cooking prohibits cooking meat in butter, requires that the meat be drained of blood, and be salted before even selling.

    But I noticed that you did take care to recommend meat from animals that have run free. Wise. In my opinion, even though I too am a shameless carnivore, meat should be served for special occasions – like the Sabbath, a wedding or a bar mitzva. It should not be consumed two or three times a week, as though it were a pasta dish. A live animal, stupid though it might be, was caused to die so that I could enjoy my meal.

    That’s something you get to contemplate when throwing boxes of Whopper patties into a freezer at Burger King.

    My wallet backs up that point of view. It is a shameless vegetarian, and often tells me what I may or may not eat. How dare it!

  • Carolina

    We are meat lovers in our house too. My husband likes a strip steak best and I favor the filet mignon, although it doesn’t have the flavor of the strip. Finishing it with Fleur de Sel works fine for me. Sometimes if we want to go over the top, I’ll make homemade Bearnaise. Just be sure to take your statin pill.

    Joel Robuchon is fabulous. I have one of his older cookbooks with Patricia Wells. I’ve used it so much it is falling apart.
    Sam

  • http://lazarocooks.blogspot.com/ Lazaro

    Ruvy…I agree meat is not something I consume too often, but like everything else is great in moderation. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I greatly appreciate it.

  • http://lazarocooks.blogspot.com/ Lazaro

    Sam…Isn’t that the mark of a good cookbook, when it’s falling apart from so much use. I love Bearnaise in all of it’s decadent glory. Thank you for the support, I appreciate it more than you know!

  • http://thewitchykitchen.blogspot.com/ Stella

    Hey Lazaro, this is a very thoughtful article. I really appreciate you associating packaged meat with something people should stop buying-very brave of you! Bravo!

    I don’t know that organic necessarily means a good life though (not anymore at least). My understanding is that there are torture farms that are 100% organic now that big companies are opening up organic lines/markets. I don’t eat a lot of beef, so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. I’d actually love to know what your’e thinking is on this.

    Anyway, good article about a subject in which I’m obviously interested (smile)!

  • http://whatwouldmargochanningdo.blogspot.com/ Kate

    Hi: I’ve given up meat for one year due to a bad case of “Food Inc” viewed on Thanksgiving night. When the one year is up, the first thing I will do is try your steak recipe. It seems fool-proof for a fool is what I be in the kitchen. Thanks!

  • http://lazarocooks.blogspot.com/ LazaroCooks!

    Stella…So glad to see you over here on BC. Thank you for your support, I appreciate it more than you know. I cannot say that you are wrong. Organic is now big business and you know the “big” companies are way ahead on this.

    However, there are growers out there that take immense pride in their cattle and the quality of life they live. Remember if for no other reason that a happy, healthy cow tastes better, and that means more money. I am well aware that these are not pets, these cattle are the growers meal ticket. But I can point you to some fantastic organic growers that not only treat the animal with respect, but are part of sustainable farming programs that are helping the enviornment.

    Man that was a long winded comment…I need a nap!

  • http://lazarocooks.blogspot.com/ LazaroCooks!

    Kate…Good luck with your boycott. Let me know when the ban is up and I will help you in any way I can with the recipe. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  • Aled Morgan

    Hey I liked your article, there are indeed huge differences in flavour between the various breeds of cow.

    I have found the longhorn breed to be excellent, along with aberdeen angus.

    I do feel however, that if EVERYONE decided to buy organic produce there simply wouldn’t be the amount of beef available to meet demand.

    Great article though!

    Al.

  • http://lazarocooks.blogspot.com/ Lazaro

    Aled Morgan…You are spot on about the longhorn and aberdeen angus. As far as organic goes, sadly it would not get to that point. Not enough people go organic. But at some point in the not too distant future will be faced with the fruits of our non-sustainable farming practices. That check will have to be paid, and environmental disaster might be the restitution. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Much appreciated…Cheers!

  • Julie Frantz

    What a great article, not to mention that beautiful plate presentation. I’m intrigued by your cooking method. I’ve always used the broiler when cooking steaks indoors, but I like your method, can’t wait to try it. The combination of spices you use to season sound yummy. I imagine it gives the steak an incredible crust when you pan-sear it! Thank you for sharing.

  • Lazaro Cooks

    Julie…Thank you for your kind words. I never use my broiler, I guess because I don’t think it gets hot enough. This method will get you a nice crust on the steak. The key is patting it down for excess moisture before putting it on the pan. Thank you again! Cheers

  • David

    I agree 100% that meat should be bought from the the professionals, that is the butchers, they are trained in their art and give friendly helpful advice, Support your local butch.