Saturday, March 30, 2019

Skillet Porterhouse Steak Basted with Compound Butter and Tallow

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] This is not a sponsored post, as I have taken a break from sponsorships this year.  However, in the spirit of transparency, we still have a close working relationship with the folks at Certified Angus Beef® Brand.

Many of my friends scoff at the notion of "grilling season" because most of us grill and barbecue throughout the year.  But I still think that there is a "grilling season" that starts for me with Daylight Savings Time.  "Grilling season" to me means that it is the optimum conditions for grilling:
  • Lighting - The sun starts setting later in the evening, and for our deck, that means beautiful rays of golden sunlight boldly shine through the trees in our backyard.
  • Warmth - It feels good to be outside, with warm breezes and pleasant temperatures.  
  • Wildlife - Birds, frogs, rabbits, squirrels, and other critters are out and about, and their chorus of animal Tinder ads fill the air.
  • Greenery - Winter's fifty shades of grey is over.  The grass is vibrantly green, flowers are bursting open like fireworks, and trees have leaves, once again.
To celebrate the first day of Daylight Savings Time this year, I went to Food City and picked up the prettiest Certified Angus Beef® Brand porterhouse steak they had.  I cooked it in a skillet over hardwood coals and basted it with a mix of compound butter and beef tallow.

When I was posting about this while cooking, one of my followers asked a good question:

@nibblemethis , this may be a dumb question, but what’s the advantage of searing a steak in a cast iron skillet over coals vs. a hot gas or electric stove? Does the meat acquire extra smoke flavor? Gas seems so easy compared to coals. Thanks
The answer is that I did it solely to enjoy the experience.  With an open grill like this, you aren't going to get any smoke flavor.  If I used the skillet as the sear part of the reverse sear technique, then yes, I would get that smoky taste. 

Gear and Set Up

I decided to use a skillet for this cook.  I love uniform cross-hatch marks, but it is hard to beat a cast iron skillet seared steak.  But more importantly, I wanted to butter-baste our steak.  My weapon of choice was a PK Grill, a simple clam-shell type grill and I used Tennessee hardwood lump charcoal.  Notice two things.  
  • First, the skillet is empty.  Don't add food, oil, or anything until it is preheated - when you start to see slight wisps of smoke come off the surface.  
  • Second, notice the gap with no charcoals, that is my escape area if the skillet gets too hot.  

Compound Butter and Beef Tallow

I didn't use JUST compound butter for my fats/oil.  I used a combination of beef tallow and compound butter.
  • Beef Tallow - I started off with beef tallow as fat because it has a significantly higher burn point than butter.  Mixing a higher temp cooking oil (canola or peanut) with a lower temperature cooking oil (olive oil or butter) doesn't raise the smoke point of the lower temp oil, that's a myth.  But I started with the tallow and then added the butter, later in the cook, so it didn't have as long to burn.
  • Compound butter - I added the compound butter for lusciousness and flavor.

My compound butter was a quarter cup of butter, some parsley and rosemary from the front yard, a clove of finely minced garlic, and a pinch or two of salt.

The cook

I patted the Certified Angus Beef ® Brand porterhouse steak dry and lightly coated it with about one tablespoon of avocado oil (peanut, canola, or other high temp oils would do).  I seasoned it on top and bottom with an Easy Steak Rub recipe.

Once the skillet was preheated, I added the beef tallow, let it melt, and then added the steak.  I added the compound butter about 2 minutes later.
Once I flipped the steak over, I added more butter and then started basting the steak.

It took a total of about 6 minutes to cook the steak.  Normally I would expect about 8 minutes, but the fire was running pretty darn hot.

What a delicious way to kick off the long evenings of Spring and Summer!