Thursday, June 25, 2009


I think steak and mushrooms is about as basic as it gets. I grew up eating this perfect combination of beef and fungi and have always loved the simple goodness of the one with the other. I honestly can't think of a better match between two foods.

That being said, there are, of course, certain things to consider when attempting to bring the simple into the arena of the gods. It isn't a difficult thing to take a simple dish to a higher level than the ordinary; it just takes a little planning and a little know how.

My mom was a good cook. Actually, she was a really good cook and I have a lot of respect for her ability considering that she was a novice. She was a mom, and she cooked for her family out of necessity and with love. But she learned to cook recipe by recipe and perfected her repertoire over many years of repetition. I sometimes think she could have been a great culinarian had she had a bit of formal training because she had a feel for food.

I bring up my mother for two reasons. First, she passed away a couple of years ago and I really miss her sometimes. Second, she made steak and fried mushrooms often when I was growing up and I think my liking for the combination stems from that fact somewhat.

When I say that a simple dish such as this can be taken to a higher level than ordinary, I simpley mean that if the proper technique is employed for every phase of preparation, the dish can be perfect.

So, how do we make this simple dish perfect? Let's have a closer look!

Here I have two Wing Steaks marinating in a little extra virgin olive oil, freshly chopped rosemary, minced garlic and some freshly milled black pepper. It's a simple and perfect combination for adding a slow, aromatic boost to meats before they hit the grill, the pan or the oven.

These Wing Steaks caught my eye in the grocery store for two reasons. First, I had never seen a Wing Steak before and therefore had never cooked one. Yes...this is true. I had never used this cut before in any restaurant I had cheffed in. It isn't that common here in Canada on restaurant menus so I had never ordered it in. And I have never seen it in the grocery store before either. The second reason this steak caught my eye is because it is a close cousin to the Rib Steak which is my favorite steak of all. So, I simply had to give this cut a try to see if it was good.

I have to say that the Wing Steaks were quite reasonable. They were $7.00 each. Now...I'm still getting accustomed to the difference in meat prices in Ontario as compared to British Columbia, but this was a deal in my experience so I was quite happy at the price.

These steaks are tender cuts. Usually we think of the tender cuts being Beef Tenderloin (fillet), New York Striploin and Rib Steaks. The Ribeye - my ultimate favorite steak - is the Rib Steak with the bone removed.

Another tender steak is the Sirloin, however it isn't truly a "tender cut" and is classed as a semi-tender cut because it can be somewhat chewy. But it is still a nice, flavorful steak.

But let's get back to the Wing Steak!

I prepare a nice bed of coals for the steak in the usual manner as set out in earlier posts. I allow it to burn down a bit and even out for good fast heat for grilling. Yes! I will be grilling these steaks rather than barbecuing them so I want a fast and furious heat.

Remember that barbecuing consists of slow cooking with indirect heat and smoke and grilling consists of fast cooking over direct high heat. The two are very different.

The coals are white hot and the iron is smokin'! . It's time for the steaks!

Psssss! Down they go to be instantly seared. The flame licks up and threatens to burn the steaks on the surface before they are cooked to medium rare in the center. Yikes! What to do?!?! Well...I close the air flow to the fire which in turn cools the flame. I also close the lid to further restrict the air supply and to trap the smoke inside the barbecue. And remember, smoke equals flavor!

Here's an unusual perspective - I took this shot of the action beneath the steaks. It sure looks hot and smokey, huh?

Here the steaks are cooked medium and are brushed with whole butter and are seasoned with sea salt.

Pretty nice, huh? And believe me...they were tasty too!!

The steaks are loaded up with browned mushrooms, onions and rosemary. My next post will deal with the mushrooms for this dish and how to use a cast iron skillet to get them really browned properly. I will also share how to clean a cast iron skillet to keep it seasoned properly. You'll never need another non-stick pan again!

Bon Appetit!


Anonymous said...

I dare you.....

Beef Sashimi

Inspired by a dish in Nobu Now (2005, $65) by chef Nobu Matsuhisa, who runs a Japanese fusion restaurant empire worldwide. Ask the butcher in advance for thinly sliced beef, carpaccio-style. Ponzu is a citrusy soy sauce, sold in many supermarkets. Fleur de sel is flaky coarse sea salt, sold in gourmet food shops.

1/4 lb (120 g) beef tenderloin, sliced paper-thin

1 tsp sesame seeds

1 tsp + 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 large cloves garlic (1 thinly sliced, 1 finely grated)

1 tsp Asian sesame oil

2 tbsp ponzu sauce

1 tsp ginger cut in very thin strips

1 tbsp chopped chives

Fleur de sel to taste

Arrange beef on 2 plates.

Toast sesame seeds in small dry skillet until crackling and fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape into small bowl.

Wipe same small skillet. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil. Heat on medium-high until shimmery. Add sliced garlic. Stir-fry until golden and crisp, about 1 minute. Pour through fine strainer to drain, reserving oil in small bowl. Set aside sliced garlic. To reserved oil, stir in remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, sesame oil and grated garlic.

Drizzle oil mixture over beef. Drizzle ponzu over top. Sprinkle ginger over top. Let sit 15 minutes. Just before serving, sprinkle with fleur de sel, sesame seeds, reserved sliced garlic and chives.

Makes 2 servings.

Livingston Cooks said...

Hello Anonymous!

So...what is the dare exactly? Are you daring me to have a run at this recipe? Well...if you are, I can certainly do that. In fact, I could even photograpf the entire process and post it here on LIVINGSTON COOKS.

When I worked at Auberge Du Pommier (top restaurant in Toronto at the time) I started in the Garde Manger as the Chef du Garde Manger. That is the cold pantry in the kitchen, and the cold pantry is where all cold foods are prepared and finished for service.

Anyway, I prepared carpaccio for the menu on a daily basis. There are two ways to prepare this: The first is to use the center portion of a beef tenderloin (commonly know as the Chateau Briande)and it is wrapped in cling film and then partially frozen. This slices are then cross cut against the grain to produce very thin medallion-shaped slices. The second way is to slice thin medallions and then beat the hell out of them with the flat of a cleaver or a mallet.

I prefer the former method.

Anyway, the rest of this dish is the preparation of a sause which is then heated and napped over the beef. It's an easy one indeed.

The magic isn't in the preparation but in the simple combination of flavors.

So, it this a challenge of some sort?

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