Curses, Tony Bourdain!!!
I ran across a video on Facebook one night while my wife was at the beach and realized that I must cook this. Anthony Bourdain did a video with Balvenie where he made steak au poivre over an open flame and was both immediately hungry and inspired. I didn’t have 7 hours in front of me to make the demi-glace in his recipe, so I made some modifications to the recipe, taking some liberties with his project. Steak au poivre is a French dish that consists of a steak, traditionally a filet mignon, coated with loosely cracked black peppercorns and then seared. The peppercorns form a crust on the steak when cooked and provide a pungent but complementary counterpoint to the rich flavor of the high-quality beef. It won’t be quite as tender of a loin cut, but NY Strip would also be a suitable cut for you to use at home.
As I typically already reverse sear steaks on a routine basis, this cook is a low degree of difficulty. It does, however, give me the opportunity to sear these steaks in the normal order and is dressed up a notch by the pan sauce. Tonight was also a team sport with Mrs. MagicCityBurn and she made her famous potatoes au gratin and farmers’ market lima beans to accompany the steak. If you wanted to stick with the French theme, lentils or haricot vert might also make excellent options for sides.
- USDA Choice or better Filet Mignon (substitute NY Strip if you prefer)
- Kosher Salt
- Cracked Black Peppercorns
- Unsalted Butter
For the pan sauce
- 1/3 cup cognac, brandy or whisky (Scotch or bourbon would both suffice if your home bar is like mine and lacking in the brandy department)
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- More unsalted butter
Prep brine the steaks
- 30 minutes beforehand, remove the steaks from the fridge and dry brine with kosher salt.
- Using a mortar and pestle, grind black peppercorns.
- Spread the black peppercorns on a plate and press the steak into the peppercorns, leaving a peppercorn crust on each side of each filet.
Cook the steaks
- Preheat a cast iron skillet the oven to 350F. Preheat the grill to 600F-700F.
- Melt butter in a second cast iron over the grill
- Sear the steaks for two minutes on each side.
- Remove the steaks from heat and transfer into the cast iron pan in the oven and cook to desired doneness.
- With steaks, you should be cooking to temperature and not for time. But, as a general rule, a 1" filet should take about 8-10 minutes to reach Medium Rare (135F). The same steak should take 12-15 minutes to reach Medium (145F).
- Remove the steaks from heat and transfer to a plate to rest.
While the steaks are finishing in the oven, prepare the pan sauce
- Over medium heat, in a pan, add 1/4 cup of cognac or liquor and ignite. Shake the pan until the fumes are extinguished.
- Add the heavy cream, whisk for 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
- Salt to taste.
- Add 1 tbsp of unsalted butter and whisk in.
- Plate the sides.
- Slice steak across the grain.
- Top sliced steak with pan sauce.
Holy Smokes! Do you have a moment to talk about our lord and savior Christian Eiroa?
In 1995, Christian entered the cigar business working for his father, Julio, at Caribe. Later that year, the family purchased Camacho cigars where Christian was able to make a name for himself in the premium cigar world. Business was good enough that, in 2008, Davidoff acquired Camacho. And in 2012, Christian started CLE Cigars, his current venture where his lines include Eiroa, Asylum and Edgar Hoill OSOK. In November last year, Eiroa started shipping a new premium cigar called First 20 Years to commemorate his first twenty years in the cigar industry. One of CLE’s reps is a friend of the show and we joke that he might as well be a co-host. Jason said early on as this cigar was just shipping that this was going to be a tremendous cigar and that he’d personally purchased a box and intended to purchase another one. I’m unaware that he’s given out any free samples of this cigar to anyone, meaning I’ve also personally paid for every one I’ve smoked.
I think I grabbed one from the first box to pass through Cigars and More 280 before they’d even been put into inventory and I’ve had a couple more since. What a stick! Anyone who has listened to the show knows that I’m a big fan of the Nat Sherman Timless Nicaraguan and the Liga Privada T52 by Drew Estate. Those two cigars and an occasional Padron 1926 are the mainstays of my “I’m going to the beach for the weekend” cigar lineup.
So this past weekend, Mrs MagicCity Burn and I headed down to the beach. I shook things up and didn’t take a Timeless or a T52 with me. I smoked four cigars while I was there, including the 2015 Cigar of the Year, My Father Le Bijou boxpressed, and the unquestionable star of the show was this Eiroa First 20 Years. It’s a full bodied masterpiece. The exact blend hasn’t really been discussed or released, but we’ve been told it’s a boxpressed Honduran puro and that’s good enough for me. It has a deep, rich Maduro wrapper and its construction and burn have been flawless every time. The flavor profile sits well with my Nicaraguan leanings lately. It’s heavy on cocoa and espresso, with just a hint of cinnamon. And this stick has a really pleasant aroma from start to finish. It’s on another level from most other handmade premium cigars.
It absolutely holds its own with an Opus X or a Padron 50th at a fraction of the price. From a budget perspective, I want to say these run about $13 locally, plus sales tax, as opposed to $20 or more for an Opus and $17 to $100 depending on exactly which Padron you’re lighting up.
So, I’ve largely used the same charcoal for years now. It’s an 80/20 Oak/Hickory blend and not some secret recipe like the Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe Natural Lump Charcoal. Lately, ownership of my favorite local store changed hands and they’ve stopped carrying the good stuff in favor of the branded stuff from Kamado Joe. They assure me that it’s the same, but, especially, for low and slow cooks, any shift in charcoal can really impart changes to the flavor of your meat. And I’ve been reluctant to make a large scale change, preferring to buy small bags of whatever natural lump coals I could find at the grocery store. Anyway, I ran out of charcoal before my last NY Strip cook and had to sear steaks over apple wood chunks with hickory chips. It was a sad day in the Magic City (the steaks were fine, but it took a couple days for the smell to wear off).
So, after some significant time reading reviews, I have begrudgingly accepted the newest member of the Magic City Burn family, Fogo All Natural Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal. It extols supposed virtues like a brown bag, mild, oaky flavor, no sparks (which may be worth the switch all on its own), and is apparently the #1 Best Seller for Lump Charcoal on Amazon. Of course, like all natural lump charcoal, it isn’t loaded down with chemicals, fillers and lighter fluid.
I’ve got 35 lbs of the stuff on the way. So I should be able to give it a good trial run. I may re-run through some old recipes or try some new ones to kick the tires and light the fires, so to speak. Stay tuned for rum and bourbon laced opinions.
If you knew me in real life, you would know that I have a special place in my heart for chicken wings at, probably, any flavor or heat level you could come up with. Lend me your Jerk Seasoning, your Buffalo, Ghost Chili, Dry Rubbed, naked, breaded, smoked, baked, fried, grilled. I am your guy.
So why has it taken me literally years to post a chicken wing recipe? I dunno, but here’s one for you. It’s written for the Big Green Egg, but you should be able to re-create this on any smoker or grill that you can setup for indirect heat. In a pinch, a convection oven will even do.
- 2 lbs Chicken Wings (20-25 wings)
- 1/4 cup Peanut Oil
- 3 Tbsp Chopped Cilantro
- 3 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 10 Garlic Cloves, Minced
- 2 Tbsp Ginger, Minced
- 1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
- 3/4 cup Sugar
- 1/2 cup Water
- 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
- 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
- Sriracha Sauce, to taste
- Green onions, Sliced
Marinate the wings
- Mix oil, cilantro, soy, ten garlic cloves, ginger and 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes in a large bowl
- Add wings to mixture. Stir to coat.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours
Cook the wings
- Setup the Egg for indirect heat.
- Preheat to 400F, with the cooking grid placed over the platesetter, feet up, and an aluminum pan underneath to catch any drippings.
- Wings will cook through in approximately 20 minutes. Turn once during cooking.
Make the glaze
- While the wings are over the fire, combine vinegar, sugar, water, Sriracha, two garlic cloves and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes in a medium sauce pan.
- Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer.
- Glaze should thicken in 15-20 minutes.
Toss the wings
- Place wings into a second, clean large mixing bowl.
- Pour the glaze over the wings.
- Toss wings in glaze to coat.
- Garnish with sliced green onions
The wife and I just returned from a trip to Jamaica and it was amazing. We stayed at an all-inclusive resort near Montego Bay and took a day excursion over to Negril. While we were in Negril, our driver took us to a Jerk Chicken shack and we were immediately hooked. It’s juicy, spicy and fragrant (think curry). That combination makes it basically unlike any BBQ chicken we eat stateside.
I found a source for Pimento wood (AKA Jamaican allspice) online and they’re apparently the only legal importer of Pimento wood in the US. So begins our experiment of trying to nail down authentic Jerk Chicken at home. Once we get any kinks ironed out, this will probably go into heavy rotation in our house.
- Chicken. You can use a whole chicken, quicken quarters or boneless, skinless breasts/thighs. Up to you.
- Pimento wood chips. You almost certainly won't find these locally, so be prepared to order them online. I got mine at eXotic Wood Chips, LLC, apparently the only legal importer in the US.
- 5 scallions
- 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 Scotch Bonnet peppers (If you can't find them, you can substitute habanero peppers)
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 onion
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
For the sauce:
- Prepare the scallions, garlic, onion and thyme by chopping them prior to placing them in the food processor.
- Do the same with the peppers. These are pretty hot, so you may want to wear gloves to keep from rubbing any of the oil in your eyes or nose. You can remove the seeds for a milder sauce, but for an authentic marinade/table sauce, you should use the whole peppers.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse a few times.
- Turn on to puree for 2-3 minutes until the sauce is uniformly consistent.
- Move to a container where it can be stored refrigerated for up to one month. Recipe yields about 3 cups of sauce.
- Use a fork to poke holes in the chicken to permit deeper penetration of the marinade.
- Drizzle and rub marinade all over the chicken. Reserve any remaining marinade to use as a table sauce.
- Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. I aim for more like 12-24 hours.
Wood chips prep:
- Soak a handful of Pimento wood chips in water for at least an hour prior to the cook. You want the wood to smoke and smolder, rather than burn.
- Prior to starting the cooker, wrap the soaked wood chips in aluminum foil.
- Setup the Egg for indirect heat. Aim for a cooking grid temperature of about 275F.
- Remove the marinated chicken from the fridge. Discard any of the remaining used marinade.
- Place the aluminum foil pack of Pimento wood on top of the lit coals. You should have an opening in the top of the aluminum foil pack to release the smoke.
- Overcook the chicken slightly to an internal temp of 175-180F. For chicken breasts, this will take about an hour. For a whole chicken or quarters, you may be looking at two and a half hours or more.
- It's irie! Top with table sauce and serve over saffron rice and black beans.
AKA #MagicCityBurn vs. Shula’s Steak House
Recently, the wife and I were lucky enough to receive a $100 gift card to Shula’s Steakhouse, somewhere that we would never normally eat. Dinner there was quite an experience. I had an amazing glass of XYZin 50 Year Old Vine Zinfandel and their 22 oz bone-in, dry aged, USDA Prime Cowboy Ribeye. Having eaten at Fleming’s and Ruth’s Chris in the past, I’ve grown pretty confident that I do well enough with USDA Choice steaks that I don’t need to spend the extra on USDA Prime. But I was flat out outgunned by Shula’s. Continue reading
This isn’t my first steak post. But it’s by far the best example I have of cooking steaks recently. And the photos are much better than my last steak cook.