Archive for January 27th, 2008

Who Says You Can’t Eat Steak Every Day?


rib-eye-steak.jpgMy family loves beef. Not that we don’t also love chicken, pork or fish (alright, we don’t love fish too much) but we have a special fondness for beef, particularly steak. In the old days this was invariably the classic New York Strip (or on special occasions Filet Mignon). Some time ago I discovered that those lean cuts just didn’t provide the superior flavor and texture that can be found in a nicely marbled rib-eye or porterhouse steak.

The funny thing is that, over the years, as our household income has increased, so has the price of good steak. It is a sad fact that the rising price of steak has far outstripped our present resources. So I have been forced to experiment with less ‘desirable’ cuts and, with a modicum of rubbing, marinading and tenderizing, have even come to enjoy them – although begrudgingly.

Last night all of us delighted in a surprisingly delicious yet very inexpensive beef dinner. Like a good steak it was crispy and charred on the outside yet the internal flesh was still moist and succulent, with savory veins of buttery fat running throughout the muscle. The flavor profile was just right; a dry rub of garlic, salt, cinnamon, sugar and chipotle pepper having been earlier applied. The meat was cooked to a uniform perfect medium doneness. The family verdict was four enthusiastic thumbs up (very rare these days) with one commenting that this was some of the best steak he’d ever had. Except it wasn’t steak.

The beef we had just consumed was from a cut that I had never been too fond of in the past – a beef chuck eye roast. In other words – roast beef. A thick piece of muscle, it is often confined to the stew pot, but usually is cooked in the dry heat of the oven for a rather long time. When first placed in a bag or a dutch oven, along with root vegetables and served with a gravy made from the drippings, it becomes the savory pot roast. Although there is a time and a place for roast beef on the menu, rarely will it ever be mistaken for steak. Tending to be much drier, and not so tender (or very, very moist and falling apart when cooked like a pot roast) it is often best cut into small pieces for easier mastication. But this roast beast cut like a good steak, great big hunks of meat sliced right off the roast, easily chewed, with the mouth filling combinations of texture and taste that only comes from cooking fatty beef over an open fire.

Raw flame never licked the sides of this tender beauty and I never could have gotten this result from my oven’s top-rack broiler. Instead this 4 pound block of muscle rotated for 90 minutes, skewered on two spits about 3 inches from a red-hot electric heating element. Turning ever so slowly before this horizontal bed of artificial coals, the bulk of the meat’s juices ran in rivulets around the revolving roast, basting itself in the process. What little drippings fell off the meat landed harmlessly in the drip tray with no flaring or smoking, as the fat never met the hot element. The high temperature of the radiant heat seared the juices in the flesh while caramelizing the spicy rub. That’s right, friends, this marvelous feast was prepared inside my very own Show Time Rotisserie from Ronco! As seen on TV. But wait, there’s more…..

A few months ago one of my co-workers offered me this little baby, still in the unopened box. It was her mother’s, who had just passed away. She thought maybe I might be able to use it while teaching the culinary class. I didn’t see how but I accepted her generosity anyway. It might prove interesting. Anyway, it stayed unopened until this past week….

I can’t rave about this product enough. So far I’ve broiled two 3 pound chickens to perfection – simultaneously! Not a touch of pink, breast meat moist and tender and skin as crisp a parchment paper. Country style pork ribs cooked in the accompanying cooking basket fell apart at the touch. Even vegetables roasted in the basket were superior to anything I’ve done in the oven or on the gas grill. Like Ron says, Set it and forget it!”. (Perhaps I can turn my family on to some broiled fish fillets in the future.)

For years and years I have looked down my nose at the huckstering of Ron Popeil and his crazy kitchen gadgets. I doubted if they would ever work or if they did how long could they last? – at those ridiculously low prices? If they were really any good you would be able to buy them in Sears or K-Mart, right? You would never find a Veg-O-Matic in a Williams and Sonoma catalog – too low class gimmicky.

But if this little tabletop sweetheart is an example of what this guy can do then put me down for a Dial-O-Matic, the Cap Snaffler, the Flavor Injector and the Pocket Fisherman as well as the Veg-O-Matic (although the GLH-9 Hair-in-a-Can Spray didn’t work too well for me. At least not after it rained.) It’s no wonder that Ron Popeil is a billionaire. And his invention has already shown me how to save money while continuing to enjoy excellent, high quality food.

I recommend that everyone go out and buy one. Today!

pitch man to rich man

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