Monday, November 2, 2015

Shallot Steak Seasoning

I'm a big believer that when it comes to steak, the best thing you can do is stay out of it's way and let it be a steak.

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This weekend I bought some 60 day dry aged ribeye steaks from Willy's Butcher Shop here in Knoxville.  I have only had steaks in the 40-45 day range so I was intrigued to try these beauties.  Dry aging does some magical (actually scientific, per McGee's On Food and Cooking) things to beef:
  • moisture loss results in concentrating the meat and flavor,
  • enzymes break bland complex molecules (proteins, glycogen, ATP, fat) into smaller, more tasty structures (amino acids, glucose, IMP, fatty acids), and
  • enzymes fragment support structures in the beef making it more tender. 
So dry aging beef concentrates flavor, builds taste, and makes it tender. With a steak this great, I just needed to let it be itself and like I said - stay out of it's way.  Simple rub, Grill Dome at 500°f, and a hair over four minutes a side.  

Kosher salt, cracked black pepper, and crushed dried garlic make a great basic steak rub. Sure, you could just use regular black pepper and garlic powder but I like the coarse texture of the larger pieces of seasoning.  I had a jar of dried shallots that Alexis had ordered and that mild marsala wine-like sweetness was the perfect aromatic addition to my simple steak seasoning. I put the black peppercorns, dried garlic, and dried shallot through a pepper mill set for coarse or give them a whirl in a spice grinder.
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Shallot Steak Seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground dried garlic
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground dried shallot
  1. Stir all together in a small bowl.  Liberally season steaks with it just before putting them onto the grill. 
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Salt draws out moisture, so either A) put the seasoning on right before the steak goes onto the grill or B) season it and let the steak rest on a rack for an hour so it will reabsorb the moisture.

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I was sure to let my Grill Dome preheat for a while to make sure that my Craycort cast iron grates were nice and hot before the beef hit the sizzle.

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It was just about 4 minutes, 15 seconds per side at 500°f.  Don't worry about that little flare, as soon as I shut the Grill Dome lid, flames like this are brought down almost immediately - one of the many benefits of owning a kamado grill.

Borrowing from Adam Perry Lang, I did a board dressing of reduced balsamic, parsley, and some of the shallot steak seasoning on the cutting board.

We ate this straight off of the cutting board, without any sides.  I'm not ashamed, I'm a carnivore.
The flavor was nutty with a funky beefiness (in a totally good way), characteristic of dry aged beef.    I love the amplified beef flavor. The texture seemed denser than regular steaks but still tender at the same time.  To be perfectly honest, I don't know that I could tell a difference between 60 day and 45 day dry aged beef.  But I can definitely tell a difference between the dry aged and regular steaks.
I want to play around with dry aging beef myself but I'd like to get a dedicated small fridge first. You need to keep the relative humidity around 70-80% and the temps between 34 and 38°f. As much as we are in and out of our fridge, it would be difficult to maintain those conditions.   

In case you're wondering why I didn't do the reverse sear technique, two reasons.  First, I like my steaks to be 1 1/2" or thicker for reverse sear and these were normal sized.  Second, as much as I like the reverse sear for strip steaks and filet, I like my ribeyes grilled straight direct.
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