Good day, my name is Master Obsidian and I am an unapologetic carnivore. I love Meat in all its wonderful, delicious, awe-inspiring mouthwatering meaty goodness.
There are infinite ways and means associated with how meat is prepared and served. Certainly we can wax rhapsodic about the merits of crispy, succulent marbled sliced fragrant planks of piggy goodness – the gods have decreed that we call this ecstasy bacon. Bacon has its merits – but I believe that the discerning RM will find that there is plenty of bacon porn already available online. And besides, whether you’re a stove top RM or a cookie sheet RM – both paths through that particular forest end in basically the same clearing. You want it crisp, but not overly so, salty – again without overdoing it and its basically delicious, with little to no help from the RM or any of his or her minions other than the application of heat and an attentive eye. (Stovetop folks undoubtedly consider themselves the more daring bunch, braving the random mini eruptions of hot bacon grease, tongs in hand…) In any event, the discussion is rarely about quality in bacon. When we talk bacon, we talk quantity. ‘Nuff said about that.
However, today I want to talk about the relationship between the Renaissance Master and Steak – unlike bacon, which is slightly more forgiving…exactly what is done to the steak and how well it is executed will make all the difference in the enjoyment of the final product. We will first talk steak in general, and then narrow the discussion down to a specific cut of meat and its preparation. Finally, I will share with you the House Obsidian recipe for the Best Steak in the World.
Yes, seriously. The Best Steak in the World.
I kid you not.
Let us begin.
Picture the side of the steer. Starting at the neck and working down the backbone, you have the chuck, then the rib, followed by the short loin and sirloin and ending with the rump. The side section is the flank. Those areas produce the following steaks:
Chateaubriand: A piece of the tenderloin (the pointed end of the short loin), sized to feed two or more people and traditionally roasted.
Delmonico: A boneless cut from the rib section, named after the 19th century New York restaurant that popularized this dish.
Filet mignon: Think French! The name of this cut translates as tenderloin and it is the tapered, fork-tender end of the short loin.
Flank steak: A lean cut of meat taken from the underbelly that grills quickly. This cut often is used for fajitas.
Flatiron steak: Cut from the top blade, so named because it resembles a flatiron.
Hanger steak: Also called the hanging tenderloin, this cut is part of the diaphragm that hangs between the ribs and the loin.
London Broil: A large cut from the flank, often marinated to tenderize it, then broiled and served thinly sliced.
New York strip: A steak by many other names…(such as shell steak, Kansas City strip or sirloin club steak): The marbled, larger end of the short loin.
Porterhouse: Essentially the T-bone’s big brother, combining two steaks in one, the New York and the filet.
Prime rib: The bone-in rib steak, cut from ribs six through twelve, that often contains a bit of gristle but is full of flavor.
Rib-eye: A rib steak without the bone; prized among steak lovers for its marbling and flavor – this steak is by far the tastiest steak in my opinion.
Sirloin steak: Sitting between the short loin and the rump steak is the sirloin, less tender than the short loin but still full-flavored. Can sometimes be rather tough and chewy, even when prepared well.
T-bone: Similar cut as the Porterhouse, only the filet side is usually a bit smaller. Named for the t-shaped bone running down the center of the steak.
Tri-tip: Also known as a culotte steak or triangle steak, the tri-tip is a triangular-shaped portion of top sirloin.
The reason all this is important to you, RM will be obvious in short order – the real estate axiom of ‘location, location, location’ is applicable here. Your enjoyment of the steak is directly related to what ‘neighborhood’ that steak is from on the side of beef that it is cut from.
The United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA, separates beef into eight different grades: Prime, Choice, Select, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter and Canner. Most restaurants serve Prime or Choice beef and only about two percent of all beef graded by the USDA qualifies for Prime distinction. Another grading program is Certified Angus Beef®, a designation awarded by Wooster, Ohio-based Certified Angus Beef LLC. The mark applies to approximately eight percent of all USDA-graded beef that derives from Angus stock and meets certain quality criteria.
Is Angus better? More flavorful? Apparently it depends on who you ask – In my opinion it’s a descriptor of lineage that has morphed into a marketing strategy over time. In order to be certified Angus, the beef must be 51% Angus by heritage, period. The concern is that the other 49% can be just about anything and often is. A better barometer of what kind of beef you’re getting is the USDA grade. You generally wont go wrong with Prime or Choice beef. The grades refer primarily to the degree of fat marbling within the muscle tissue, with Prime beef containing no less than 8 percent intramuscular fat.
It is ill advised to: try and make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, rummage around in the bottom of top hats, figurative or otherwise in search of rabbits, or expect that garden variety cut of meat shrink wrapped and sitting slightly chilled under pink spotlights in the meat department of the local mega chain to become a Mind Blowing experience at your table regardless of the tender ministrations of your slave.
So lets start at the beginning. A frugal, but patient RM will wait for the right opportunity to arise, instead of opting to settle for an inferior cut of meat. What you are seeking is a sale on bone-in or even better, boneless ribeye steaks at one of the higher end grocers in your neighborhood. If you are the discerning and particular RM that happens to have a good relationship with an actual butcher, pop on down to the butcher shop and order up the following; Four ribeye steaks with excellent marbling, approximately 1” to 1.5 inches thick. You are going to buy at least four of these steaks – because you’ll want to have a couple to eat now and some additionals for a Future Meal to be Named Later. Trust me – when I divulge to you the wonders of the Best Steak Recipe in the World, you will want to do this again. And again. Soon.
Now that your steak is firmly in hand – what to do with it? Hand it over to your slave of course. Along with the proper instructions that we will be getting to shortly. Note; although much of Renaissance Master is written from a first person perspective – Im writing this with the implicit understanding that you, gentle RM will be engaging and directing someone else to procure, prepare and serve this steak to you in precisely the manner you expect.
Your direction is crucial, sexy and necessary. RM’s do not wave a limp hand in the general direction of a cold kitchen and expect magic to happen. RM’s have definite opinions about the kind of meat that graces the table and how it is prepared. You are a person of high expectations and rare, refined tastes. Given the vicissitudes of life, most people only recognize their Last Meal in hindsight. This my friend is the chief reason why the discerning RM is committed body and soul to full immersion and complete enjoyment of the best this life has to offer. Which is also why you have a submissive or slave handy that will be ecstatically looking forward to preparing this steak for you, among other things.
And now, without further delay –
The Best Steak Recipe in the World.
Prep Time:: 10 min
Cook Time:: 5 min
Level: Mysteriously Easy, once you know how and have the proper equipment
Serves: 1 to 2 servings
- 1 boneless rib eye steak, 1 1/2-inch thick
- Canola oil or virgin olive oil to coat
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
You may have noted at this point that there are only three ingredients in the Best recipe. Before you scoff – have a care and note that this is not just any recipe. This is more appropriately known as food magick, and if you are any student of any sort of lore at all you know that following the proper sequence of events EXACTLY is often as important as the ingredients used. If your slave or submissive follows your instructions to the letter, you will have a steak that quite possibly will Change Your Life. Neglect these precise instructions and you may inadvertently summon Cthulhu to your kitchen. Or something. Im just sayin.
Place 10 to 12-inch cast iron skillet in oven and heat oven to 500 degrees. Bring steak(s) to room temperature.
The discerning RM needs to have at least one good quality cast iron skillet in the kitchen, well seasoned and ready for use for this recipe and for all sorts of other reasons which we will get to in our future travels. Remind me to talk to you later about the care and feeding of said cast iron skillet and how to ‘season’ it properly.
When oven reaches temperature, remove pan and place on range over high heat. Coat steak lightly with oil and season both sides with a generous pinch of salt. Grind on black pepper to taste. If you don’t happen to have a cast iron skillet handy, take unto you an oven safe frypan and instead of putting the frypan in the oven to heat up you are going to heat the pan and a couple teaspoons of oil on the stovetop. Be careful that you don’t set the oil on fire. When it starts smoking slightly, you are at the ideal temperature, but you’re also almost at flashpoint for cooking oil so be careful.
You’ve been warned.
Immediately place steak in the middle of the hot, dry cast iron pan. (everyone else without the cast iron pan handy, gently place put the steak into the pan containing the hot oil) Cook 30 seconds without moving. Turn with tongs and cook another 30 seconds, then put the entire pan straight into the oven for 2 minutes. Flip steak with tongs and cook for another 2 minutes. (This time is for medium rare steaks. If you prefer medium, add a minute to both of the oven turns.) If your tastes approach the extreme well done end of the spectrum, I am beginning to despair somewhat of your ever becoming a true RM….but I digress. After the appropriate interval of time, remove the steak from the oven. Timing is everything with this steak – the cook is never to poke the steak with something sharp to see how ‘done’ it is, neither is the cook to ‘press’ the steak with the spatula like a short order cook at a greasy spoon. The sear is as much alchemy as art. Studies have shown that the steak loses about the same amount of moisture during the cooking process seared or not so the myth of ‘sealing’ in the juices with high heat isnt quite what we thought.
A seared steak is a beautiful, delicious steak and a wondrous thing to behold as well as eat.
Wait and see.
After removing the steak from the pan, cover it with foil and let it rest for a few minutes. This lets the internal juicyness that is now right below the surface of the steak, redistribute itself within the body of the steak. By taking this step you insure that each bite of the steak is as juicy and flavorful as the one preceding it, all the way to the end of the meal. If you cut directly into a steak right out of the pan, you will get a few juicy bites but you can literally see the moisture flowing out of that initial cut and creating a shallow lake in the bottom of your serving plate. That’s great for television steaks. That SUCKS for the steak of the Renaissance Master. You’ll be halfway finished and will begin noticing that the steak is becoming drier and tougher to chew. Sound familiar? Don’t let this happen to you.
Let. It. Rest.
After you uncover the steak (it will still be quite hot after two minutes) you can garnish it with a pat of salted butter, or some blue cheese crumbles. Yes, you could go old school with a vegetable accompaniment of loaded baked potato or perhaps a wilted spinach salad, but save that for another day. For this first run through I believe that the RM should dispense with vegetable tradition for a moment and enjoy this steak with a simple, yet robust red wine that you really love. Perhaps a candle or two to grace the table, along with some Coltrane or a bit of Miles Davis on the sound system to improve the ambience.
Yah, Miles. Kind of Blue if you want to get specific. Spend some time with this steak, chewing slowly and savoring the fantastic flavor punctuated with sips of some really great wine, or your favorite libation. Some wine recommendations;
After dinner, take time to express your compliments to the chef afterward in the manner of your choosing, of course.