Planning The Last Waltz

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The steaks from 2016. The two in front were about to go back onto the grill for their final sear.

It’s only late February but it’s time to get serious about planning our 10th and last Salute to Meat, our annual summer party, which this year we’ll hold in early June. By the time we’re done we will have served considerably more than a half-ton of beef, lamb and especially pork at these parties, to an increasing number of guests each year.

Last year we had 84 RSVPs and 71 people showed. This year my wife, Janet, and I expect more, since we’re combining it with the retirement party for my colleague, Sally Hale.

The save-the-date email is going out tonight, and I’m going to start dry-aging a Prime sirloin strip roast. It’s going to go 45 days or so, then I’ll trim it and cut it into steaks about 2 1/2 pounds each and freeze them. It’s about 14 pounds now; after aging and trimming I expect to get about 10 usable pounds.

We are big fans of the reverse-sear method of cooking large steaks and roasts, and we’ll do that with the steaks and lamb. Reverse sear is when you cook the meat in a low oven, smoker or closed grill at a low temperature and then sear it when it’s almost done.

This makes a more tender steak, I believe, and it also eliminates almost all of that nasty grey band that you get at the margins when you sear first.

So I like to cook the steaks at about 225 degrees until they get close to the internal temperature you want — I usually look for 128 or so, aiming for medium-rare. Then you take them out to rest while you run the grill to about 450 degrees, or heat the broiler. Then the steaks go back for just a couple of minutes to get the char you want, then you pull them off and let them rest again, maybe for 15 minutes or so, depending on how long they were off the heat the first time.

You can also use a butane torch to crust them inside, handy in bad weather.

Janet, who actually does more for this party than I do, will cook a pile of onions very slowly and when they’re very brown and almost a single mass she’ll hit it with some Bourbon to deglaze the pan and run up the heat to burn off most of the alcohol. Then she’ll add blue cheese to the mix and we’ll put slices of the steak on crostini made from baguettes and the blue cheese-onion jam on that, and out they’ll go.

It’s always the last course, but the one I can start first, now.

I’m getting excited.

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