Thursday, March 21, 2013

Butter Poached Steak. No, This is Not a Dream.....

Moderation. The wet blanket of the gustatory world. However, if used responsibly, moderation can add to your happiness, or at least not detract from it all that much. Instead of taking out a massive loan for that Ferrari that will inevitably be forfeited to the bank, you can buy a 1991 Geo Prizm and look at pictures of Ferraris online. Instead of finding your way to the bottom of that bottle of Rumplemintz and ending up married to a hooker named Steve, get the bartender to put one of those little umbrellas and a cherry in your Diet Pepsi and use your turn signals all the way home. And if you want to wait six months to get a rezzie at The French Laundry, only to finally get one at 3:30pm on a Monday, where you will spend $300 on 8 courses of pretty food you can't pronounce, and won't remember the names of when your friends ask you what you had, use moderation instead. Make yourself a butter poached piece of beef at home. It's not settling. It's Transcending. 

Now if you know me, you might gather that moderation is hard for me. I deal more in extremes, just by my nature. However, in my advancing age, I realize the value of compromise. Restraint is an admirable quality, and not a sign of weakness, but of strength. Before you get all proud of me, know that I made my own doughnuts last night. I confess that so that you will know the boundlessness of my hypocrisy. 
Back on point, the point of moderation is that if you deny yourself the luxuries most of the, some of the time?.......then you are allowed to really enjoy a little splurge here and there. Deny Yourself. Now that's a novel idea for Americans these days......

So, if you have been counting calories, pinching pennies, avoiding alcoholism, etc., and it's time for your reward, and you choose it in the form of a great meal, I've got one for you. Get a steak and poach that thing in butter. Trust me, you won't regret it. 

I heard of butter poached beef on our anniversary trip to Washington D.C. last year. We ate at Bourbon Steak, and the specialty of Chef Michael Mina is to poach the meat in clarified butter. The cost was offensive, and the steak was underseasoned, and the building was surrounded by homeless people, and my ensuing epiphany led to The Dinner to Fight Hunger. However, a seed was planted about the technique.....

I detest failure, so I have NOT been on a diet lately. However, I have been exploring the intricacies of moderation. Because Mrs. Jacked Up Grill and I had been so good,  I decided we had earned a steak. But the point of weeks of moderation is to relish in the glory of anti-moderation, so I thought, "I think I'll Butter Poach those bad boys the Jacked Up Grill Way!"

What the butter does is slowly bring the beef up to temperature, while infusing it with buttery goodness as well as whatever herbs and seasonings you have in the butter. The final product doesn't retain much actual butter, but the flavor accentuates the fat of the meat, and there is an unctuousness about it that reminds you that this dinner is truly a reward. So sit back. Pour yourself a glass of whatever you've been denying yourself. If you've been saving up for that SpotBot for your carpet, go to the bank and ask for three hundred dollars in pennies, then fill up your tub with them, then dive in like McScrooge*. Live a little, you've earned it. And try this steak. It's the best you'll ever have. 

Mrs. J.U.G referred to her steak as "amaze-balls." Ya, amaze-balls. 

*Do NOT dive into the tub of pennies. I tried it, and the Duck Tales intro is apparently just movie magic. 

Butter Poached Filet of Beef, Red Wine Reduction
(Technique and recipe modified from Michael Mina's article in Esquire)

2 Steaks of your choosing**
1 pound unsalted, real butter
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 sprigs rosemary
1 shallot, thinly sliced

**Because you are adding fat from the butter, a leaner cut works great, even if you normally go ribeye. Try tenderloin if you're going all out, but NY strip or even sirloin will be elevated in flavor and suppleness by the butter poach. 

For Sauce
1 cup dry red wine 
1 shallot, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig time
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tbsp butter (you can use the clarified butter from the poach)

First, clarify one pound (4 sticks) of butter. Melt it all gently, then spoon off the foam on top (milk proteins). The golden liquid in the middle is the clarified butter, but there are still milk solids on the bottom, so gently pour off the liquid and discard the white stuff on the bottom. 

To set up the poacher, we need a double boiler. Find a skillet or pot large enough to hold the butter and the steaks, and place it on top of another pot of water that is just barely smaller. Heat the water slowly until the butter reaches a temp of 140-160 degrees. It was a little hard for me to control, so my butter stayed at the higher end. Just adjust your cook time and keep checking the internal temp of your meat. Place the garlic, rosemary and shallot into the butter.

 Season the steaks with salt and pepper, and add to the butter.  Because this is a one and done thing for home cooks, you don't have to waste tons of butter by adding enough to submerge your steaks. I followed Mina's advice, and flipped the meat halfway through the cooking time, since there was only enough butter to get just past the halfway point on my steak. Cook for approximately 30 minutes per inch thickness of the meat. When the steak is about 10-15 degrees short of your desired temp (Medium Rare= 145, so 130-135), remove and shake free of excess butter. Season again with salt and pepper, and place in a scorching hot skillet for about 30 seconds to 1 minute per side just to get a little crust. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. Prepare your tastebuds for nirvana. 

For the sauce, add 1 tbsp butter to a saucepan and add shallots and bell peppers. Season with salt and sweat until softened. Add wine and rosemary and thyme, and allow to reduce until about half the volume is evaporated. Stir in last tbsp of butter and simmer until syrupy. Remove rosemary and thyme before serving. Sauce can be strained, or served with the peppers and shallots. 

I added the steak on top of smashed purple potatoes, and the final product certainly felt like a victory over mediocrity, and it one-upped my over priced, under seasoned steak from DC. Boo-Ya , Moderation. Boo-friggin-Ya.