Thursday, December 8, 2011

No Grill? No Problem. 4 Steps to Heaven

Memories of barbecues and family functions out on our patio after a long day of swimming makes me wonder if my barbecuing mimics a portion of that time. I remember I never liked steak. It was chewy and thick and very cumbersome to eat. I wanted something simple like hot dogs or hamburgers. Those were easy on my choppers. I couldn’t understand why everyone wanted to chew on leather. But to them, it wasn’t leather, it was the best part of barbecue... at least to them. Dad would fire up the grill and we would set the picnic table up with paper plates along with forks and knives to hold them down in case a breeze came through. Mom prepared potato salad, fresh string beans and a fresh garden salad as well. Corn on the cob was always invited to the barbecues. Dad would throw every piece of meat into a large pan and then placed it onto the table. Even in the winter, dad was still outside barbecuing whenever we were in the mood for burgers, and they were craving a steak. He’d be out there in his little hat and winter jacket with a cigarette dangling from his mouth. We’d be in the living room watching TV, until we heard the loud deep voice call out, “Come on! Don’t let it get cold!!!" We were at the table faster than anything.

As an adult, I realized a few things, especially living in a condo with no barbecue: you don’t need a grill for a good steak. In fact, I prefer to pan sear my burgers inside along with onions and mushrooms. But, we’re tawkin’ steaks here. And I did develop a love for steak, unfortunately for the most expensive kind: filet mignons. Champagne taste on a beer budget, but at least I won’t be at the dentist with a loose tooth because I chewed on a piece of leather. A delicious steak has a couple of secrets when being made inside.

1. The marinating & seasoning process. Some people don’t season their steak and wonder why they don’t care for it much. All you need to do is add a pinch of salt and a generous amount of pepper. Pepper tenderizes your steak and gives it a great flavor. I use a dash of garlic powder and depending on my mood, I use a touch of balsamic vinaigrette and if I have it (which is a lot better) a touch of Pepsi. It tenderizes the meat like nothing else. I learned that tip from my sister. Depending on how daring you are, sometimes I’ll wrap a piece of bacon around the filets. Everything tastes better with bacon, right?

2. Take two pans out. Chop one onion into rings and add raw mushrooms into a small amount of olive oil. Add a tablespoon of sugar for the caramelization of the onions, parsley, a pinch of salt and another generous amount of fresh ground pepper. Add some parmesan cheese into the brew, mix until it starts to soften up. You can add white wine to it, but most of the time, you don’t need it. While the onions and mushrooms are reducing, add a little bit of bread crumbs into it, to give it some substance. This is for your topping.

3. Put your other pan on high, get her hot & ready... I spray a touch of Pam onto the pan so it doesn’t stick. Add some raw onions on the side so it also creates a little more juice and flavor & then throw your beautiful filets on there. Keep her on a setting of 7 for a good 5 minutes so she’ll sear on one side, then flip them over and keep it on a setting of 4 for about another 8-9 minutes or so covered. You’ll have perfect rare filet mignons.

4. Place on a dish, pour the toppings onto the steaks and add whatever vegetable you want on the side. I usually eat veggies with no carbs with my steaks, since it’s so filling as it is.

For a beverage, I prefer to drink a Malbec or a Cabernet. If not wine, I would choose a beer such as Sam Adams, or some type of ale to your liking. The flavor of the ale and the richness of the steak is an incredible combo. So get out to the store, go to your butcher, get your filets & bon appetit!

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