My name is Kurt.
Let’s talk about food.
In the house I grew up in, we ate together as a family every night. It didn’t matter if I had basketball and soccer practice and my kid sister had dance and dad was late at the office. We could be saying grace at 5:30 or 8:30, but we always sat down as a family. My mother was, and still is, a great cook. I just assumed every family had it like we did. However, as I grew older and stayed the night with friends, I realized that not every family put value on eating dinner as a unit. Also, some of those mothers and fathers couldn’t cook for shit. I’ve maintained a close relationship with my siblings and with my folks, and I’m sure that having conversation daily at the table laid the groundwork for that. And a big part of that was my mother always putting something on that table that we loved, and would bring us together.
In essence, that’s what food does. It brings us closer with family. Family might mean blood, but it can also mean neighbors. It can mean the group of guys you’ve been running with since grade school. Simply put, your family is the people you value having around you throughout your life. And I can’t think of many things more special than sitting down with those people you love and sharing a delicious meal. The one thing I can think of, however, is sitting around with those people you love and sharing a delicious meal that YOU COOKED. For me, cooking for loved ones is the most soul-satisfying experience. When I became serious about cooking, my life improved exponentially.
I believe that having the ability to cook at least a few simple dishes for oneself is essential in being a well-rounded individual. I’ll be checking in with you guys from time to time to show you how to prepare simple food in a delicious manner. The degree of difficulty may vary, but they will all be dishes that can be prepared at home without fancy gadgets.
Today is a good example. We’re going to cook a steak. An eighteen ounce beef ribeye, to be specific. And we’ll serve it with braised cabbage. What you’ll need:
-3 quarts water -2 slices Applewood bacon -2 T apple cider vinegar -12 oz. – 18 oz. beef ribeye -kosher salt -freshly cracked pepper -3 T canola oil -2 oz. unsalted butter, cold -two garlic cloves -7 sprigs fresh thyme -cast-iron skillet -half head green cabbage, rough large chop
When most people think about cooking steak, they think grilling. But firing up the grill, moving all your ingredients outside, cooking them, then transporting them all back inside can be a bit of a production, especially if you’re cooking with live charcoal. Not to mention the cleanup process. You have to set aside a good amount of time, which can be stressful. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great grilled steak. However, cooking one indoors in one pan eliminates the time issue and cleanup is a snap. And I’ll just say it: I prefer a steak cooked in this manner.
Before we go any further, I must stress the importance of a QUALITY cast-iron skillet. I once bought a cheap one from Target simply for the fact that it was cheap, and it was a seriously poor decision. After less than a year and minimal use, I tried to make a frittata at two in the morning while intoxicated and damn near broke my foot. I pulled the fucking thing out of the oven and the handle broke off in my hand. I still need to replace that kitchen tile…
Anyway, Lodge makes great cast iron ware and has been doing so since the late eighteen hundreds. They WILL NOT BREAK. If you don’t own one, go buy one. You’ll have to season it, and everyone has their preferred method, so just find instructions on the internet and do what you like. Personally, I like to rub every inch of it in canola oil and put it in the oven on 350 F for five hours.
First, we’re going to get the braising liquid together for the cabbage. Combine the water, bacon, apple cider vinegar, ¼ c kosher salt and two sprigs of thyme in a handled pot and bring to a boil. Once the liquid is boiled, reduce the heat to low and simmer for at least 30 minutes. The cabbage only takes three minutes to cook. That’ll be our last step.
As soon as the braising liquid starts to simmer, turn your oven to 350 F and pull the ribeye out of the refrigerator. Don’t season it yet, simply allow it to reach room temperature. The only way you’re going to get that great brown color you’re looking for on this beautiful cut of meat is by ensuring that the steak isn’t cold when it hits the pan. When the smoky, tangy liquid has simmered for 30 minutes, season both sides of the steak liberally with salt and fresh cracked pepper. It’s damn near impossible to overseason a steak. Don’t rub it down like a rack of ribs, but you get the idea. Red meat loves salt the same way fish loves lemon. Place the cast iron skillet on the front burner on high heat. Add the canola oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, lay the steak in the pan with it falling away from you, so as not to splash hot oil on yourself. Using a medium sized metal spoon, move the steak around to ensure that the oil spreads evenly over the pan. Continue to cook on high heat for two minutes, or until the bottom side of the steak is a deep brown. Using tongs or the spoon, flip the steak over and cook the other side in the same manner. Once the bottom side is browned, add the butter to the pan and lay the garlic cloves and 4 thyme sprigs on top of the steak. Reduce the heat to medium low and begin basting the steak with the butter by tilting the skillet toward you, then spooning the butter over the thyme and garlic on top of the ribeye. Continue to baste for two minutes, then place the pan in the oven.
I like my steak medium rare, which means I only want to leave it in the oven for five minutes. If medium is more your thing, leave it in for 8-10 minutes. If you like your steak more cooked than that, I feel sorry for you and have no further advice. In fact, just stop reading this and go to Arby’s, because otherwise you’re just wasting a gorgeous cut of beef by turning it into boot leather and I can’t be associated with that kind of behavior, quite frankly. Remove the steak from the oven, then, using the spoon or tongs, transfer the steak to a cutting board, preferably wooden. This is the most important step. Resting. How many times have you cut into a steaming hot steak and watched all the juices seep right outta the thing all over the plate? It’s a goddamn tragedy. You want those juices to stay inside the steak. That’s how you get a truly exceptional bite of meat.
While your ribeye is resting, add the cabbage to the pot and increase the heat to medium. The cabbage will takes 2-3 minutes. Since we/re dealing with cabbage and not collards or mustard greens, we’re not going to cook it very long. We still want it to have some crunch. Simply keep tasting it. After 2 minutes, try a bite and if it’s to your liking, it’s done. If it’s not, give it another minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove the cabbage and bacon from the pot and serve. It’s time to slice the steak. Using a chef’s knife, slice the steak across the grain, meaning if the steak is resting longways on the cutting board, you will slice straight across it. Cut in ¼ inch slices, then fan out on a platter. Lightly season the slices with kosher salt and serve.
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