There’s nothing like a major holiday with its accompanying menu suggestions to revive one’s interest in food that’s been on the back burner. Take steaks, for instance. A couple of weeks ago in advance of Father’s Day, hundreds of suggestions on how to prepare and grill manly cuts of meat to delight dads on their special day came from every possible source. I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the recipes for mouth-watering dishes ranging from delicately sliced flank steak to robust ribeyes.
A few that ended up in the must-try file include Tuscan rib-eyes with grilled vegetable skewers, vegetables and cream cheese stuffed pinwheel steaks with herb roasted potatoes, peppercorn steaks with crispy steak frites, garlic steak with sesame noodles, pan-seared steak with blue cheese potatoes, and the most interesting, rib-eye steak with cowboy butter.
Ree Drummond, better known as The Pioneer Woman of Food Network fame, adds a touch of her Oklahoma roots to grilled steaks by pan searing them in the savory, buttery concoction known as cowboy butter. As if that's not enough savory goodness, she tops crispy steaks with another melting scoop for good measure.
To make Drummond’s cowboy butter, place two sticks of softened salted butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Whip the butter until it's fluffy. Add 1/3 cup finely minced fresh parsley, plus more if needed, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, a pinch of coarsely ground black pepper, plus more if needed, one clove garlic, finely minced, juice of half of a lemon and lemon zest, and a dash of salt, optional. Mix it until it's totally combined, scraping the sides as needed. Add more parsley, more lemon juice, more pepper, or salt if you'd like.
Lay out a long piece of plastic wrap and scoop the butter mixture in a long strip down the middle of it. Carefully pull one side of the plastic wrap over the butter, squeezing it gently to form it into a log. Continue to roll the log of butter into a roll. When it's all rolled up, twist the ends (like a piece of candy) until they become very taut (this means the butter is pressing together inside the plastic to form a cohesive roll). Place the roll of butter into the fridge so it will harden or into the freezer if you need to speed along the process.
Drummond then melts the butter in a heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. When it's melted and golden brown, she sears ribeyes for about 45 seconds per side, then moves the skillet to the oven to finish, about 3 minutes.
For the crowning touch, she places a thick slice of cowboy butter on top of each steak to melt.
If your cardiologist approves, it’s a steak to sample, especially as the weather heats up and outdoor grilling becomes a bit more challenging.
Here are a true tried-and-true indoor steak grilling tips:
Use an ovenproof pan, preferably cast iron, with a heavy bottom that holds heat well and low curved sides that won't trap moisture.
To prevent sticking, heat the pan thoroughly, then lightly coat the bottom with oil of your choice to prevent sticking.
When it comes to selecting the steak, look for USDA Prime steaks. Cuts labeled Choice are also a good choice.
My favorite marinade, a recipe given to me by a former Jitney Jungle deli manager, is an overnight soak in the refrigerator in a bowl of low-sodium soy sauce. A topping of a little butter, salt and pepper is all that’s needed before grilling to perfection. However, soy sauce, even the low-sodium version, contains a hefty amount of salt. If this interferes with your dietary needs, try Allegro, a recommendation from a health-conscious friend. He combines the marinade with Italian dressing and a dash or two of Mrs. Dash.
Once steaks are over a flame, leave them alone. Don’t continually flip them, but instead, let them sear undisturbed for 3-5 minutes, depending on their size and how well done you want them to be, before cooking the other side.
If you’re still tentative about cooking large slabs of meat, try an easier version with little preparation time and no flipping or checking. The result is a hearty steak dinner without the heat, but with all of the flavor.
Foolproof Pepper Steak and Rice in Foil
1 cup instant rice
4 (18x12 inch) sheets of heavy-duty foil, lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray
1 pound beef sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce (or sauce of your choice)
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon ketchup
1 clove garlic, minced, or ½ teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup canned beef broth (can use low-sodium version)
8 ice cubes
1 cup onion, cut into short strips
1 large green or red bell pepper, cut into short strips
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Place 1/4 cup rice in center of a sheet of foil. Place beef strips in medium bowl. Combine teriyaki sauce, ketchup, and garlic in small bowl; mix well. Pour over beef and mix until beef is coated with sauce.
Divide beef into four portions. Arrange four beef strips on foil to enclose rice. Pour two tablespoons of broth over rice. Top with two ice cubes.
Arrange remainder of one portion of beef on ice cubes and rice. Top with a quarter of onion and bell pepper.
Double fold sides and ends of foil to seal packet, leaving head space for heart circulation. Repeat with remaining rice, beef, broth, ice cubes and vegetables to make three more packets. Place packets on baking sheet.
Place packets on baking sheet and bake for 14-16 minutes, until rice and meat are thoroughly cooked. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.