Saturday, August 25, 2012

Steak a la Roseholme

Also known as Boeuf Tudor or Boeuf Coupé.* Several readers -- okay, two -- have asked for the "recipe."

This is meat cooked over fire. The only real trick is to not use any tricks.

I grill meat on a cheap covered grill, $20 at the five and dime. It has front vents in the lower part and top vents in the hinged lid, each with sliding shutters. Open them up wide while cooking.

The charcoal is the expensive stuff -- hardwood "lump" charcoal, literally random hunks of hardwood. Yes, it costs more. Look, you just saved like $400 on the grill; you can afford it.

The cheap grill has a two-year (light use) layer of ash and partially-burned charcoal in it. Its almost time to remove most of the fine stuff, saving a bigger pieces. You want this; it's a cheap grill. That Far-Eastern steel ain't gonna add anything to the flavor. Cover the grill when not in use, to keep rain out. I use a plastic "lawn & leaf" trash bag.

Steak: I buy good stuff. Filets are preferred here; Fresh Market actually stocks three grades, all a cut above. (The best are aged. I've never tried them.) With filets, you can butterfly one for the medium/medium well diner and do it up in not much more time than an unsplit one for those who prefer rare.

Start the fire without using an accelerant. I like the scent of naphtha, but not on my dinner. (YMMV.) All you need is a wadded-up half sheet of newsprint or a strip torn from a brown paper bag; build a little tipi of twigs and pile charcoal around it, leaving gaps for air and your match. Or you can use one of those coffee-can gizmos. It will take 10 to 15 minutes for the coals to catch; longer is better but mind you have enough to last out the cooking process.

Do not use soap on the grill proper, other than maybe the very first time. Fire and vinegar, plus vigorous scrubbing, will keep it clean. On a grill, like a teapot, a beer glass or a cast-iron skillet, soap risks affecting the taste very adversely.

Okay: start with the meat. Salt and pepper all sides; ordinary iodized salt and sea salt don't taste different to me but fresh-ground pepper is nicer than the pre-ground kind. Others have pointed out that it should not be too chilled when you start (but mind leaving it out too long!). I usually buy, carry home, and cook as soon as the fire is hot, no fridge involved. Put the steak(s) on the grill. Turn when the first side is done and add a small pat of European-style butter on top, taking care that is has no easy path off the meat. (Butter fires, you don't want.) Iterate until it is sufficiently done, adding a little butter if it looks necessary -- cooking times will vary, but it starts smelling really, really good at "rare" and you work from there.

That's all there is to it. When done, close up the grill vents and lid and let it self-extinguish. Put the rain cover back on once it has cooled.

If you want baked potatoes, microwave them first -- 3 to 4 minutes twice (turning over after the first go), first sticking them with a fork (to prevent explosion!) and maybe salting. Then wrap them up in foil with the "magic three" -- salt, pepper, butter -- and set them on the grill with the steaks. (Seal the foil up with a rolled seam along the top, to keep the tatties moist.)

I've also grilled giant mushrooms and most recently skewered vegetables. These take more time; I'd start them with the steaks. Corn on the cob -- desilked and with the husks well-dampened and a single layer of foil to hold it together -- is nice, too.

That's all there is to it. Humans have been cooking and eating meat-over-fire for as long as we've had fire; don't go high-tech and you'll do fine. Your nose, eyes and taste buds know when it's right!
* The reasons for which will be left as an exercise for the reader, staring at the white-on-red flower emblem of Roseholme Cottage.


Carteach said...


Jerry said...

What he said.

Anonymous said...

Yum. Thank you.

And I agree: the most important thing is getting a good piece of meat. The thin, lower-grade steaks from the grocery store are OK, but for a REALLY good steak, it's worth it to shell out a few extra bucks at Fresh Market, Whole Foods, or a similar high-end store.

BGMiller said...

Been getting paid to feed folks for more than a couple of years and all I can say is....


You might try something other than the filets though. Marbling is flavor and all that.

Also, those little disposable foil pans are great for using on the grill. If you were to julienne and an onion and slice a few mushrooms and toss them both into one of those pans with a generous dollop of butter, seal the lid on, and let it hang out on cooler edge of the grill good things may result. Give 'em a little longer than the steaks.

And those little pans are also nice for some chunked up taters, butter, S&P, and a sprig of rosemary. Same process.


jed said...

Aha! Well, last time I idly pondered the significance of Roseholme, I came up with, and dismissed, the Lutheran religion. Not at all up on symbology of English royal houses.

You don't mention this specifically, but the implication of coupé is that the grill is covered while cooking. Otherwise, you might have linked to cabriolet. Yet I have my doubts about that.

I don't buy steak often. Last time, I brought it home, salted and peppered, garnished with rosemary from the garden, wrapped and left it in the fridge overnight. Grilled over hot coals, it was marvelous. I used chardonnay-smoked sea salt, which is wonderful stuff.

Anyways, thanks for the Tudorial.

Charles Pergiel said...

Back in Arizona I used to use one of those coffee can charcoal starters. Two sheets of newspaper worked a charm. Then I moved to Oregon and it didn't work so good. I don't know whether it was the colder weather, higher humidity or recycled content in the paper, but the paper would go out long before the charcoal even thought about starting. Now I use lighter fluid. I do give it plenty of time to burn off. Nobody complains. Well, I don't hear anybody complaining anyway.

Brian said...

I'm kinda astonished that you can't taste the difference between iodized and non. I haven't used Iodized in something like ten years but, still and all, damn!

To me iodized tastes like it had battery acid added to the mix just for fun.

Brian said...

I'm kinda astonished that you can't taste the difference between iodized and non. I haven't used Iodized in something like ten years but, still and all, damn!

To me iodized tastes like it had battery acid added to the mix just for fun.

Roberta X said...

Iodized salt? I grew up with the stuff -- Mom's generation had grandparents, even parents with goiters still. Y'don't skip the iodized salt if you've seen that.

But perhaps I should give sea salt another chance on steak.