Once again, I’m playing with the ingredients in the original recipe, but sharing my old version, one I’ve been making for e-vah. Rubbing garlic, rosemary and salt has been my easy way of adding extra flavor to steak without a lot of work. Or time. As with the floating island, where my generation’s old recipe was the same as Dorie’s, so I just went and baked it the same way I had for decades, in a tube pan with a pool of caramel and dulce de leche, the veal chops we’re supposed to be making today for our FFWD group, translated into these rosemary garlic steaks, cooked in butter with a splash of white wine at the end. A little reduction, and voilà, lunch is served.
About that steak.
Now, most of you probably know I live in Argentina, where meat is our national food. Barbecue has become the number one choice here, a blue ribbon flaunted by pizza and milanesas (extra thin slices of meat, breaded and fried) in the past. But our grilling would be considered plain for most of you, no marinades, rubs or additions of any kind, except for salt and pepper. The fatin the meat does the flavor trick, and making a great piece of barbecued meat is no beginner’s luck, no matter how much chimichurri or salsa you pile afterwards.
The meat here is very fresh, no fourteen or twenty one days waiting for it to age, something that to this day, I don’t understand really. Why wait? Slap that piece of red on the grill or skillet and eat it! Make mine medium rare please.
Today I used rump steak, my favorite cut. Lean but flavorful.
It just needs a few tips and there’s no way you can have a bad steak. Here are mine:
1. Always have the meat at room temperature. That way it’ll be more tender. If it’s frozen, defrost it overnight in the fridge. The less change in temperature while defrosting, the better.
2. Add salt right before it goes into the skillet. If you want to infuse some garlic and rosemary, rub them on the steaks, leave them at room tº for twenty minutes, and salt them at the last moment.
3. A steak should be two or three fingers (1.5 to 2 inches) thick if you want it medium rare with a good crust.5. Make sure the skillet or steak iron griddle is preheated.
4. Sear the steak on both sides over high heat, but finish it over medium/low, unless you like it very rare inside, almost raw. It will become flushed, as we say here, which means the outside is too dark before the inside gets a chance to cook properly. That is, unless you like overcooked, thin steaks.
5. Always let it rest for 5 minutes after you remove it from the heat source. The juices go to the outer part of the meat piece while cooking, and resting redistributes them.
6. Never pierce or cut a steak to check for doneness. To test them, lightly press them down with a fork or kitchen tongs. The more it gives, or the flabbier it feels, the more rare it’s still is. When it’s very cooked, the meat will hardly yield when you press it.
Did you know that the area below your thumb (yes, in your hand!) is quite accurate when testing steaks?
Now, lightly join the tips of your thumb and index finger (you will form a circle) and press that area below the thumb; that is rare steak. If you join the middle finger and thumb it get’s a little tighter; that’s medium rare. The ring finger is cooked and the pinky is very cooked.
ROSEMARY GARLIC BUTTER STEAKS
adapted from Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan
4 rump steaks (1 to 1.5-inches thick), room tº
2 or 3 garlic cloves
2 Tbs fresh rosemary leaves
3 Tbs butter
1 Tbs olive oil
Salt and pepperA splash of white or red wine
Mince garlic and rosemary. Add 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste) and mince it a little longer. You can also do this with a mortar and pestle. Rub the paste over both sides of each steak.
Heat a skillet over medium/high heat and melt butter. Add oil to prevent it from burning too much. Add steaks, season them with pepper and cook 1 or 2 minutes on each side. Turn it over, cook it 2 or 3 more minutes and add the wine (you can add extra garlic and rosemary now too to the skillet). It will steam furiously. Cook the steak 2 or 3 additional minutes for medium rare, remove steaks and let rest for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the wine until reduced and a kind of sauce if formed. Slice the steaks and serve them with the sauce.