Before we begin, I’d like to acquaint you with the Ship of Theseus. It’s not a drink, but it damn well should be. Actually, that’s officially the new name for my hunch punch. It’s not the same as it was, but it has history. The reason I bring this up, is that my wife is not thrilled with my regaling people with tales of my college stupidity. My only counter argument is that I am my previous experiences, both good and bad. I’m not proud of everything I did in college, but they are part of who I am. Replace them with kinder, gentler memories, and maybe I’m not the same person. Who knows? Who cares? I’m going to add some cooking in because drinking and cooking are probably my top two skillsets (my resume claims logistics, but drinking and cooking are hard to add into an adult resume).
One of my buddies had a freezer full of deer meat in college. It was there the entire year, uncooked. We kept talking about it with no action… one night, I was drunk and hungry. I proceeded to break into every kitchen I had access to and completely ruin quality deer meat and probably all of the cooking utensils I could get my hands on. Not to mention the smell, smoke and general debauchery. Cooking simple things is hard. Hopefully this makes it easier.
Grilling a Steak: Step one is to acquire a decent steak. This is shockingly difficult the first time, but extremely easy once you have a "guy". In DC, my guy was a large lesbian woman named Pam. She called me Tiny (note: I’m not tiny) and would literally hand me meat and tell me to be on my way. Here in Kentucky, my guy is named Stan. He might not have all his teeth, but he does have a ranch in the middle of a Corps of Engineers property. His steaks are legendary. Two very different people, two amazing cuts of meat. Find a guy. Stick with that guy. Don’t fuck with the meat they give you.
My go to steak is a Rib eye. It has a nice amount of fat, but still remains tender. Filet is expensive and has great texture, I just don’t think it has enough flavor. Save money, buy a rib eye. With a good steak, the only thing I add are salt, pepper and some sort of fat. Butter, olive oil, bear fat (I’ve never actually tried this, but have heard good things.). If you are in a rush, let it sit for 5 minutes for the salt to break down enough… if you have time, let it sit salted for an hour. The goal is to put enough salt on the top to salt the whole steak.
Build a big fire on one side of the grill. Get it as hot as possible. Don’t use briquettes. Use natural charcoal. If you want to use propane, that’s fine… lazy, but fine. Once the coals are glowing red, toss the oiled steak down directly over the coals. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes, and then flip it. 2-3 minutes on the other side (lid on for both is fine, lid off is OK too). It should have wonderful char marks and be a delightful medium rare. Wrap it in aluminum foil and let the juices redistribute. You can do the exact same thing with a cast iron skillet. My only modification is to add butter for some browning. As hot as possible is the key to good steaks.
Technically perfect Steak: If you want to make a perfect steak, start by salting and peppering an hour ahead. This does lots of fun science-y stuff that sounds made up but tastes delicious. If you happened to be educated in a "intelligent design" setting, this hour is god’s love. Now that Jesus has blessed our steaks, we insert a thermometer (After marriage, obviously) and put the whole thing in a 250 degree oven… and then wait. Once it hits 130 degrees, pull out. If you have a cast iron skillet (and you should) it should be screaming hot right now. Highest setting. Cover the steak in butter and sear the ever living hell out of both sides of the steak. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, set the oven to broil, let the steak rest in aluminum foil and sear both sides with butter on top once the oven come to temperature.
Personally, I think the best drink to go with a steak is bourbon on the rocks. Especially while you are busy cooking it.
Stay tuned for the companion piece on bourbon. Coming soon.