Fathers’ Day 2018

Another Attempt at Chicken-Fried Steak

We had the pleasure of another Fathers’ Day with Grampy, and took the occasion to make another attempt at Chicken-Fried Steak.

As mentioned earlier, I became obsessed with this dish after a visit to Horseshoe Hill Cafe in Ft. Worth. This is the fourth time I’ve cooked it in the past couple months, and it was the best batch yet. I used bottom round steaks this time, which had the flavor and slight chewiness that you want. In addition to the beef, I breaded a batch of chicken breasts which turned out really good too. I managed to keep the peanut oil at 350°F in the cast iron Dutch Oven throughout the cook, and finally got a process in place to move from breading to frying to draining to holding in the oven as efficiently as possible. As always, the black pepper gravy was excellent.

Mrs. Noe made the mashed potatoes and steamed some broccoli with lemon butter, and she and Aunt Pat also pulled together a lovely green salad. I grilled some green onions with nice fat bulbs that I’d found at the Kankakee Farmers’ Market on Saturday. We also served some spicy pickled okra. Aunt Pat brought a delicious cherry pie and some soft serve from DQ for dessert.

One of the other little pleasures of the day was serving this meal on the plates that were used for Sunday Dinners at Claudia’s grandma’s. They’re a blue Currier & Ives pattern and, coincidentally, the same as the ones my mother had when I was growing up. So they hit the perfect nostalgic notes for both of us.

The ladies drank a nice California Rosé from F. Stephen Millier. I stuck with Shiners. My toast to Grampy for Fathers’ Day was “Here’s to us, and them like us. Damned few of us left.”

You can find the recipe for Grady Spears’ CFS at Texas Monthly. It calls for “round steak” but there are a lot of cuts that qualify. My best luck was with these bottom rounds, but some of that may have been more experience with prep and cooking. You could also use sirloin, eye of round or top round. Some will need more time with the mallet than others.

Steakhouse and Supper Club Fare

Sunday Dinner – 8 April 2018

Supper Club Relishes

This Sunday was Claudia’s parents’ wedding anniversary, so we decided to celebrate by grilling steaks.

The rest of the family went to a children’s production of our local theater group. I wasn’t interested in this particular show, so I stayed home and prepared dinner.

Wisconsin Supper Club CookbookThe main course menu was t-bones, baked potatoes, asparagus and salad, but I also decided to do a traditional “supper club relish tray.” The Easter Bunny brought me a copy of Mary Bergin’s Wisconsin Supper Club Cookbook, and there were several recipes I could barely wait to try.

The big hit was marinated olives from the Chippewa Inn. I drained a jar of pimiento stuffed olives, and added minced garlic, some olive oil, some balsamic vinegar, a little sugar, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes and dry vermouth.

I also fixed the cocktail mushrooms recipe from No No’s Supper Club. After blanching a pound of white button mushrooms for a couple minutes, I simmered some vinegar, sugar, garlic salt, Worcestershire and Tabasco and poured it on. These turned out just a little sweet for our taste, but Aunt Pat loved them and took the leftovers home.

The rest of the relishes were sweet cornichons, radishes (served with Lawry’s salt), pickled cherry peppers, and cold pack port wine cheese with crackers.

Sunday Dinner 040818

Our Jewel had t-bone steaks on sale, and they were each more than 3/4ths of a pound and decent thickness. The Weber Genesis was blazing hot – all four burners got it upwards of 600 °F before I killed the sear station burner – so the steaks cooked quickly. After the first two minutes I rotated them 90 degrees for quadrillage, and then flipped them after another two, turning the burners down to medium. Two more minutes and they came off to rest a bit before serving.

I’d also done baking potatoes, using our typical method of coating with olive oil spray, kosher salt and pepper before wrapping in foil to bake. We served them with whipped cottage cheese (another recipe from the Bergin book, courtesy of the White Stag Inn). It’s simply cottage cheese, chives and Lawry’s Seasoned Salt whipped up in a blender. This was another hit around the table, with several folks saying they preferred it to sour cream.

I also grilled some asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper for about 15 minutes, and served it with doctored Knorr’s Hollandaise. Yes, I am still too timid to make the sauce from scratch. Shudder if you must. Claudia made another nice Wulff Salad to round out the meal. The wine was a 2011 Alambrado Malbec from Argentina.

Claudia’s niece, Emily, joined us this week as well, along with our usual crew, the folks and Aunt Pat. After dinner, the two older ladies had Brandy Alexanders and the two younger ones had Pink Squirrels, which are getting to be a fixture here on Sundays. Dessert was a peach pie and DQ soft serve that Pat brought.

This turned out to be a meal where I really needed (and got) a nap afterwards.

I’m still making my way through the supper club book, and look forward to trying some of the mains and sides. We’ll definitely keep this meal’s recipes in our repertoire.

Perfect Grill Marks

Perfect Grill Marks

How do you get those perfect grill marks on a steak? It’s easy.

First of all, I like to let the steaks rest at room temperature for a little while before grilling, with a little kosher salt and cracked black pepper sprinkled on each side. This not only adds flavor, it also helps to prepare the surface for a nice sear.

Secondly, be sure to pre-heat the grill as hot as you can get it. On the Weber Genesis, this means all three main burners, plus the sear station burner, on full blast for ten minutes. Make sure you clean the grates once they’re good and hot.

Step three is the real trick to perfect grill marks. Put the steaks on the grill diagonal to the grates. Pretend that there’s a clock’s face on the grill, with twelve o’clock pointing to the back and six o’clock to the front. You’ll want the steak to lay across the clock in a line from 10 to 4. Cook with the grill closed as much as you can, and then check with your tongs to see if the steak will pull up easily from the grate after a minute or two. If it’s still sticking, give it another minute until it releases easily. Wait! Do not flip it over. Simply rotate it until it now lays across the imaginary clock face in a line from 2 to 8. Depending on the heat of your grill and the thickness of the steak, it ought to be ready to flip over in another two to three minutes after you rotate it. From then on, simply cook to your desired doneness, likely anywhere from another two to six minutes. There’s no need to rotate it again, just use your nice diamond pattern as the presentation side facing up when you plate it.

Sometimes I’ll spray the steaks with a little olive oil before they go on the grill, but sometimes I forget. It doesn’t seem to matter much. It does help to have some experience with your grill to know how high to set the burners after pre-heating. I usually have to back my burners down a bit or the outside of the steaks will get too charred before the inside is a nice medium rare. Since I’m new to the gas grill, I’ll cook a lot of New York Strips, Ribeyes, Sirloins and T-Bones before I attempt a big aged Porterhouse or Filet Mignon.

This picture is making my mouth water. I may have to grill some nice steaks tonight.

Happy Friday!

P.S.: If you’d like to see a nice demonstration on how to get the perfect quadrillage on a steak, watch this video from Weber with Jamie Purviance. Yep. Quadrillage. That’s what they call it.