Monday, September 29, 2008

Flat Iron do I love thee?

Regular readers (or even the occasional reader who just looks at the pictures) will realize that I have a love affair with grilled red meat.  I am unsure as to the lusty origin of this relationship, but it goes back far.  It probably has something to do with the fact that my Mom grew up on a farm and my Grandfather was in the meat business.  Whatever the reason, I have found my new weekday fix: Flat Iron Steak.
I first tried a flat iron last summer, when I was looking for meat for fajitas.  I grilled it hot and fast, sans marinade.  It turned out incredible.  I have since grilled it a number of times. I have never been disappointed with the results.  Although I have always cut the steak on the perpendicular, I began to wonder if the flat iron would stand up on it own, and it did.  So for the record, I have a great tasting tender steak. What could make it even better?  Try cheap.  It comes vacuumed sealed, so I can pick one up at Kroger, threw it in the back of the fridge, and have a few weeks to let it sit until I pull it out on a whim.
I went looking for some information about the cut, and was surprised to learn that a flat iron steak was the product of the beef industry looking for untapped beef cuts.  A November 2007 article from the University of Florida News describes the flat iron evolution.
(Dwain) Johnson, who developed the steak in cooperation with the University of Nebraska and the cattlemen’s association, said their research was aimed at identifying undervalued portions of the beef carcass. In the largest study of its kind, the researchers evaluated more than 5,600 muscles for flavor and tenderness.
5,600 different muscles?  That must have been one hell of a tasting!  A 2002 article from the University of Nebraska talks about the butchering process.
The flat iron comes from the top shoulder of the chuck. This muscle's looks can deceive even a trained meat-cutter's eye. A seam of connective tissue runs down the middle of it, making it appear tough.
"It's easy to look at this and perceive that this meat isn't tender, but you'd be wrong," he said. "If you remove the connective tissue, the rest of the muscle is exceptionally tender one of the three most tender cuts."
Removing the connective tissue involves literally going against the grain cutting the muscle lengthwise, contrary to meat cutters' training.
"It's like filleting a catfish," Calkins explained. After removing the connective tissue, the muscle looks like two fish fillets.
Some have equated the taste of flat iron to strip steaks, and I can see the comparison.  Although, my favorite will always be a bone-in ribeye.  The creation of flat iron steak is basically the result of a business decision.  Maximizing the value of the cow.
I hope I have encouraged you to pick one up.  If so...
1. Preheat your grill to high.
2. Allow your steak to sit at room temperature for approximately 20 minutes before grilling.
3. Season both sides well with freshly cracked pepper and salt
4. Oil your grill's grates.Flat Iron Steak
5. Place the steak on the grill.  After 3 minutes rotate the steak 90 degrees.  After another 3 minutes flip the steak over.
6. After 3 minutes, rotate the steak 90 degrees.  The steak should be about medium rare after an additional 3 to 5 minutes.
6. Allow to rest for approximately 5 minutes, cut and serve.
7. The times I used are based on my grill (hot is 650-700 degrees), your times may be a little different.  The key is not to overcook.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

What's on the Grill #92

A nice glowWow, what a crazy couple of weeks.  We were without power for 8 days and for 13 days without an Internet connection...until last night.  Life is finally back to normal.  The irony of all of this is that my brother, Matt, is in Houston and felt the brunt of Hurricane Ike.  We experienced just the remnants and our power came back on only a day before his! 

As I eluded to in my earlier post, this whole ordeal came at the absolute wrong time because Zoë's college friend Jenny is over visiting from the Isle of Wight.  It is also Jenny's first trip to the States.  So, in our never ending quest to make life here in Ohio just like Wisteria Lane (her basis and understanding of American culture) we have barely been home.   Fortunately, since we have had no power that is a good thing. 

Now with the power back on and the girls enjoying another American experience: The Drive-In, I am back at the grill.  Tonight, I grilled up what I call The One Bone Hickory Smoked Roast.  It is quite a bit for one person, but I am fully expected leftovers through tomorrow night.  I like to plan ahead....or at least my meals.

The One Bone Hickory Smoked Roast

The roast was covered with salt and pepper and pierced with freshly cut pieces of garlic.  It was then smoked with hickory chunks and grilled for about an hour until the internal temp hit 125 degrees.  I then let it rest for about ten minutes.  It came out spot on medium rare.  Just how I like it.  If I was feeding the girls, it would have been well past that sweet spot...we can't let English taste spoil my meal can we?!

The makings...

The roast was served along side a horseradish sauce made up of sour cream, prepared horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, and Dijon mustard.  A bone-in roast (even a one bone roast!) demands mashed potatoes.  For something different, I made garlic mashed potatoes by grilling not only the garlic, but the potatoes too.  The potatoes managed to absorb a little bit of the hickory and turned out great.

It feels good to have everything status quo again. 

Sunday, September 21, 2008

When storms take your power... make generator margaritas! Sorry for the lack of posts, but we
are on Day 7 of Camp Blackout. To make matters worse, Zoe's friend,
Jenny, arrived from England last night. It's her first trip to the US
too! Upon arrival at the house last night, I welcomed Jen to the most
advanced country in the world. I then handed Jen her toilet bucket
and a flashlight.

iPhone email

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What's on the Grill?...Nothing!

No..., originally uploaded by Another Pint Please....

Early Sunday afternoon, the remnants of Ike came crashing through Ohio, and like a really bad house guest took one of our most prized possessions on his way out: our electricity. Today is marking the 72 hour mark, so we are hoping that the power is back on today. There are over one hundred thousand households in the Dayton area and over a million across the State in the same boat as we are.

The irony in all of this is that my brother, Matt, was in Houston where Ike made landfall. We never guessed we would have been hit by the same storm. Our storm had sustained winds over 60 mph for upwards of three hours and no rain. We have several 100 foot tall maple trees in the front yard that during the height of the wind, looked as if though they were John Travolta auditioning for a role in Grease. Thankfully, those remained vertical. We did lose a smaller tree and tons of limbs.

In the grand scheme of things, this is a minor inconvenience. Others have it off far worse. Thankfully I have power (and a shower) at work.

Amazingly, the grills came out unscathed. I wish I could say the same for the contents of the refrigerator. All should return to normal soon.

Monday, September 08, 2008

What's on the Grill #91

Grilled Asian Shortribs

Asian Style Short Ribs!  Several years ago, I grilled my first short ribs based on a recipe from the red Weber cookbook.  At the time, I had picked the ribs up at the store because they were cheap and different looking.  I was up for experimenting apparently.  The ribs are cut into approximately 2 inch long sections of individual bone with a large amount of meat still on top.  This Wikipedia entry can probably give you a better explanation that I can. 

The ribs are prepped by slicing the top section of meat horizontal to the bone so that you can essentially unfold it and lay it flat.  You make two cuts in order to stretch it out.  The Weber book gives a great illustration on how this is accomplished.  In the future, I will try and post some pictures. 

My first round of short ribs was fantastic.  I remember thinking at the time, "I need to make these again!"  Well, I didn't...until now.

We were at the store over the weekend, and I again spied some short ribs.  It was one of those times when Zoë walks on through the store and I just hang out in the meat department...looking.  Anyway, upon spying the short ribs, I immediately remembered my previous experiment and decided to go at it again.  Fortunately, my memory did not let me down. 

The recipe calls for a marinade of soy sauce, ginger, brown sugar, rice vinegar and garlic.  The ribs are supposed to sit for at least twelve hours.  I only gave them three, I was pressed for time.  Unlike most ribs, short ribs are grilled hot and fast.  No more than 10 minutes total.  Keep in mind, these ribs demand the use of your fingers...and your tongue.  The beautiful sweet and garlicky marinade made me want to lick the bones for every last bit of meat.  I'm not that sick, they were just that good.

For a small batch of short ribs, you are looking are more of an appetizer than a full meal.  All I know is that I am not going to go two years without having these again.  Next time you are perusing the meat counter, give them a try.  You won't be sorry. 

Sunday, September 07, 2008

What's on the Grill #90

Salsa Verde

Salsa!  Salsa Verde and Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salsa more precisely.  Last month, Ruth (The Wildlife Gardner at Matt's Naturenet Blog on the Isle of Wight in England) had a post about growing tomatillos.  This in turned posed a question from Ruth about Salsa Verde.  For as much I have love grilling tomatillos and dropping them into either salsas or fajitas, I have never made salsa verde.  Well, no more.

After having a difficult time finding good tomatillos at the store (another reason to grow them myself), I settled on a recipe from the Weber "Red Book". 

Adapted from Weber's Big Book of Grilling by Jamie Purviance, p. 117

1 Small Yellow Onion, cut into 1/2 slices
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3/4 Pound Tomatillos
1 Jalapeno Pepper
2 Medium Gloves Garlic
1/2 Cup Loosely Packed Fresh Cilantro
2 Teaspoons Fresh Lime Juice (Cut a lime in half, each half should yield at least a teaspoon)
1 Tablespoon Light Brown Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper (Fresh!)

Brush both sides of the onion with olive oil.  Prep the tomatillos by removing their husks and washing them under cold water.  Grill the onion slices, tomatillos, and jalapeno over direct medium heat until well marked and tender, turning halfway through grilling time.  The jalapeno will be done first, then the tomatillos, and then the onions.  Place the vegetables and remaining ingredients in the food processor, pulse, and enjoy.

Grilled Black Bean & Corn SalsaI was happy with the results, it was a really nice "ying yang" of hot and sweet.  I love that.  Unfortunately, it was a little to hot for Zoë.  No problem, that leaves more for me!

The second salsa was our annual (and sometimes perennial) grilled corn and black bean.  We made this like gangbusters at the beginning of summer, but it died off a couple months ago.  With the fall knocking on our door, and fresh corn so readily available, we broke it out again.  Always a treat.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

What's on the Grill #89

Pulled Pork Pizza, originally uploaded by Another Pint Please....

Pulled Pork Pizza! This is actually the second night of this! What else are we to do with all of the pork leftovers? Besides, it gave me a chance to try out the pizza screen I picked up at the restaurant supply company last week. It worked great, so I am quite pleased.