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Robin Garr

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RCP FoodLetter: Slow-roasted steak

by Robin Garr » Thu Apr 13, 2006 1:15 am

Slow-roasted steak

Perhaps it's just the hunter-gatherer instinct buried somewhere very deeply in my male psyche, but whenever I cook meat, I feel a compelling need to submit it to the primal fire. Sear a steak with a blast of heat from a red-hot iron skillet or charcoal grill, or slam it into an 800F oven (well, OK, 450 anyway). Listen to it sizzle, hear me roar, see me ripping great bloody chunks from the dripping carcass ... but I digress.

In fact, here's a gentle, mellow way: Forget everything I just said about searing beef with a blast of fire: I'm newly smitten with an offbeat low-and-slow alternative that yields remarkable results.

I encountered the procedure in Chef Michael Schlow's "It's About Time, Great Recipes for Everyday Life," a cookbook that Amazon.com, perceiving my recent fascination with Mario Batali's cookbooks, advised me that I would probably like, too. I fooled them by checking the recommended item out of the public library rather than buying it, but they were right: It's a pretty good book, featuring a series of menus based on Schlow's rather diffuse theory about cooking and time, some of them designed to prepare when you're in a hurry, others intended for those days when you want to relax and spend hours in the kitchen.

Schlow's "slow-roasted steak" doesn't take hours, but the gentle process requires a lot longer than slapping a steak into a searing skillet just long enough to tan its hide. "Most chefs and cookbooks instruct that meat should be seared at very slow temperatures, then cooked at high heat and allowed to rest before serving," writes Schlow, who is chef of Boston's highly regarded Radius restaurant and several others. "I could not disagree more. I think true success comes from cooking meats slowly, at very low temperatures."

I had my doubts, but it happens that I had picked up a beautiful natural rib eye the same day I got the book from the library, a coincidence too fateful to ignore. So I gave it a try, and to my pleased surprise, it was one of the best steaks I ever ate. Although the slow process doesn't build that deliciously crunchy and caramelized seared exterior, the fresh herbs and rich butter (just a dab of it, really) more than made up for that. And the interior was incredible, tender as cream cheese and a beautiful hot pink all the way through.

I somewhat modified the recipe ... I just can't help doing that. But the procedure is faithful to Schlow's technique. More or less.

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

1 rib eye steak, 12 to 16 ounces (350-500g)
Sprig fresh thyme
Sprig fresh rosemary
Salt
Black pepper
1 tablespoon (15ml) olive oil
1 tablespoon (15g) butter

PROCEDURE:

1. Preheat the oven to a slow 300F (150C).

2. Chop the thyme and rosemary - you should end up with about 1 tablespoon of chopped herbs. Salt and pepper the steak.

3. Put the olive oil in an iron skillet and put it over medium heat for just a minute or so ... counter-intuitively, you do not want to sear the meat. In fact, writes Schlow, "it shouldn't even sizzle." Put in the seasoned steak, and cook it gently for just one minute on each side. Sprinkle on about half the herbs, melt the butter in the pan, and turn the steak once or twice, adding the rest of the herbs, until it's nicely coated on both sides with butter and herbs.

4. Put the steak on a wire rack in a shallow roasting pan. If there's any butter and herbs remaining in the skillet, pour them on top of the steak. Roast at 300F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the temperature at the center of the steak reads 120F (50C); it should feel very soft to a finger touch. Remove it from the oven and allow to stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving; the temperature will rise with carry-over heating to a perfect rare.

WINE MATCH: Bring out your best red wine for this beauty. It was a delight with a spectacularly good California item, Delectus 2001 Napa Valley Stanton Vineyard Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon from California Wine Club's Connoisseurs' Series.

BUY THE BOOK ONLINE:
If your public library doesn't have Chef Michael Schlow's "It's About Time, Great Recipes for Everyday Life," you can buy it from Amazon.com in hardcover for $22.05, a 37 percent discount. Purchases made using this exact link will return a small commission to us at WineLoversPage.com.
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Charles Weiss

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Re: RC/FoodLetter: Slow-roasted steak

by Charles Weiss » Thu Apr 13, 2006 6:55 am

Robin,
I was interested to read this, having recently tried his slow-roasted salmon recipe and found it delicious---moist but cooked, the same all the way through the thick fillet. That experience and your endorsement will get me to try this. I'm not as cheap as you though, I bought my copy... for 75 cents at a thrift shop.
My new favorite way of cooking steak is from Marcella Hazan. It involves a hard sear in a dry cast iron pan and then cutting into half-inch slices which are quickly cooked in olive oil in which garlic and fresh rosemary have been sauteed. You get crunch on the seared edges and good permeation of the garlic and rosemary flavors into the meat because of the large amount of surface area caused by slicing into pieces, and it's still rare inside.
Charles
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Re: RC/FoodLetter: Slow-roasted steak

by Jenise » Fri Apr 14, 2006 4:10 pm

Robin,

Since I've long razzed you about your penchant for getting high quality meals in sthe shortest time possible, you know I have to observe that this seems like the antithesis of your style. But that said, welcome to the world of slow cooking! I'm also a fan of this style, which I acquired from Daniel Boulud who I watched make a 2" thick (about 2 lbs), single bone rib eye for two by much the same method. The only difference is that he placed more emphasis on the butter basting than your chef does, both turning the meat and tilting the pan so that the butter could be spooned over frequently for longer than your chef recommends. His steak spent about half it's time on the stovetop before moving to the oven. Anyway, though, same idea.

And if you're ever short on herbs, try it sometime with about 20 cloves of garlic--fabulous!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Niki (Dayton OH)

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Re: RC/FoodLetter: Slow-roasted steak

by Niki (Dayton OH) » Fri Apr 14, 2006 4:15 pm

Thanks, Robin, I'll have to try this. I'm always interested in new preps!

Like Charles, I'm also a fan of slow roasted salmon....I find it becomes very silky, while still flaking easily when cooked like that. I was trying to recreate Jenise's smokey paprika onion salmon (which I believe she slow cooked on a grill) in the oven this winter and slow roasted the salmon at 325 for about 30 minutes...it was so good, I've been doing it that way ever since!
Cheers,

Niki
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Re: RC/FoodLetter: Slow-roasted steak

by Jenise » Fri Apr 14, 2006 4:39 pm

Niki (Dayton OH) wrote:Thanks, Robin, I'll have to try this. I'm always interested in new preps!

Like Charles, I'm also a fan of slow roasted salmon....I find it becomes very silky, while still flaking easily when cooked like that. I was trying to recreate Jenise's smokey paprika onion salmon (which I believe she slow cooked on a grill) in the oven this winter and slow roasted the salmon at 325 for about 30 minutes...it was so good, I've been doing it that way ever since!


Niki, hey, it's almost salmon season--thanks for reminding me to dig that recipe out. I think I'll repost it here. But speaking of slow roasting, an Alice Waters recipe (California's Chez Panisse) recommends baking salmon at about 225 degrees for 45-60 minutes. I never would have dreamed of going that low myself, but it works wonderfully, and it makes frozen winter salmon feel almost as flakey as fresh.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Robin Garr

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Re: RC/FoodLetter: Slow-roasted steak

by Robin Garr » Fri Apr 14, 2006 6:40 pm

Jenise wrote:your penchant for getting high quality meals in sthe shortest time possible, you know I have to observe that this seems like the antithesis of your style.


Heh! Actually, I try my best to be at least a little unpredictable. But I can't say that this is objectionably slow cooking. It's a slow technique for a fast-cooking dish, a single steak, but we're looking at a half-hour total cooking time, maybe, 2 or 3 minutes in the skillet, 20 in the oven and a few to relax at the end. That's easily incorporated into the "60 Minute Gourmet" prep time that I learned from Pierre Franey (his books, that is) so many years ago.

The only difference is that he placed more emphasis on the butter basting than your chef does, both turning the meat and tilting the pan so that the butter could be spooned over frequently for longer than your chef recommends.


Well, in fairness, remember that I didn't copy Schlow's recipe, in practice or in print, and rewrote it completely for this article based on my prep. In the book, he actually does mention tilting the pan, but he mentioned it in such a glancing way that it wasn't really clear (to me, anyway), what his point was.

And if you're ever short on herbs, try it sometime with about 20 cloves of garlic--fabulous!


Oh, yeah!!! Now I must do it again! :-D
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Re: RC/FoodLetter: Slow-roasted steak

by Robin Garr » Fri Apr 14, 2006 6:44 pm

Niki wrote:I'm also a fan of slow roasted salmon....


Saaay! Copper River season is almost here! Oh, just noticed that Jenise made a similar point. I'm thinking that the slow-roasting process - at least as I observed it in a prime rib - seems to cook the meat evenly throughout. I don't think I'd want to do it with a fresh tuna steak, for instance, where you really want a surface sear around a sushi interior. But salmon? That sounds great. Must try it!
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Re: RC/FoodLetter: Slow-roasted steak

by Jenise » Fri Apr 14, 2006 8:11 pm

"60 Minute Gourmet"


That's the name! I was trying to think of it to reference it in my comments to you, but all I could come up with was "30 Minute Meals". Which, in your mind, is a quickie of a whole different kind, isn't it. :)

But yeah, Boulud stressed lots of basting to prevent the outer surface from toughening. Think: poaching without total submersion. It's a great method, and one I only cottoned onto when I moved up here and couldn't grill, per se, all year long like I used to. And boy does it make the house smell wonderful.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: RC/FoodLetter: Slow-roasted steak

by Robin Garr » Fri Apr 14, 2006 11:24 pm

a quickie of a whole different kind, isn't it. :)


Tsk! ;-)

Boulud stressed lots of basting to prevent the outer surface from toughening. Think: poaching without total submersion.


Makes sense, and I think Schlow gets to the same destination by a different road with his emphasis on keeping the skillet just hot enough to cook the meat without searing; in fact he makes the point that the meat should not even sizzle when you put it in.
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Re: RC/FoodLetter: Slow-roasted steak

by ChefCarey » Sat Apr 15, 2006 8:49 am

Robin Garr wrote:Slow-roasted steak

Perhaps it's just the hunter-gatherer instinct buried somewhere very deeply in my male psyche, but whenever I cook meat, I feel a compelling need to submit it to the primal fire. Sear a steak with a blast of heat from a red-hot iron skillet or charcoal grill, or slam it into an 800F oven (well, OK, 450 anyway). Listen to it sizzle, hear me roar, see me ripping great bloody chunks from the dripping carcass ... but I digress.


I guess by now you have checked out page 8 in Chef on Fire :)
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Robin Garr

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Re: RC/FoodLetter: Slow-roasted steak

by Robin Garr » Sat Apr 15, 2006 11:55 am

ChefCarey wrote:I guess by now you have checked out page 8 in Chef on Fire :)


Actually not ... I started right in with the recipes. Did I unconsciously plaigarize you?
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David Lole

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Re: RC/FoodLetter: Slow-roasted steak

by David Lole » Sat Apr 15, 2006 3:03 pm

One of my all-time favourites is slow baked ocean trout (with fresh dill, butter and cracked black pepper). I'm with you, Robin, the flesh needs to be slightly "under-done" for the full beauty of this dish to be appreciated.

I'll give your rib eye recipe a burl soon. Thanks!
Cheers,

David

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