Monday, June 22, 2009

If You're Not Going Away This Summer, Have a Steak-cation

By Chuck R Stewart

Summers here, and summer is vacation time. So if you're not traveling this summer, take a vacation anyway"a food vacation. You've been meticulous this year about eating less meat and more legumes. Now is the time to get out the grill and enjoy your steaks. The news people are advising us to take a stay-cation. Well, turn your stay-cation into a steak-cation! And who is the king of the steaks? King! Porterhouse.

This cut of steak has plenty of marbled fat so that it is juicy and flavorful and, most important, tender. Porterhouse is one of the most tender cuts of beef. Picture the porterhouse steak in your head. Its that perfect, thick triangular steak divided by a bone. The bone divides the steak into two neat portions. The larger one is what you expect from a porterhouse, a treat to eat. But the smaller one is the prize. It is even more juicy and flavorful. If your host divides the steak and lets you choose, follow your mothers etiquette instructions and take the smaller piece. And now were left with the bone. Meat processors these days always want to take out the bones. Supermarket meat departments dont give us nearly as many bones as our parents could buy. But you know where the flavor is. Next to the bone. You know better than to gnaw on the bone in a restaurant (Moms etiquette again), but if you are on your deck, anything goes! Chew! Gnaw! Lick! Slurp! Savor every atom of flavor on that porterhouse bone.

There are a couple of schools of thoughtconcerning cooking steaks. The first is gas grill versus charcoal grill. The second is marinated versus gloriously naked.

This is just my opinion, but, if you're going to use a gas grill, you might as well broil your steak in the kitchen. You wont have to wave off the flies, mosquitoes, and yellow jackets, and the steak will taste pretty much the same. Its true, you put the lava rocks in the bottom of the grill. Supposedly, the fat drips from the steak, hits the rocks, and gives the steak a grilled flavor. But, to me, it doesn't work. A charcoal fire is a lot more mess and work, but it is worth every bit of the extra labor. You absolutely have to be sure to take the time for the fire to die down to ash-covered embers, and you need to have a handy spray bottle of water to put out the licking flames, but the result is an aroma that will call hungry carnivores from long distances away and a flavor like no other.

The other question is to marinate or not to marinate. In my opinion, the natural flavor of the charcoal-grilled steak is so satisfying that adding other flavor via a marinade reduces the perfection of the pure steak flavor. So, sprinkle on a little salt (go on, salt it"its vacation, remember?) and maybe a little pepper, but the perfect porterhouse needs nothing more.

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