With her new job, Amy spends the majority of her life hundreds of miles away from home during the workweek sustaining herself with hospital cafeteria mac-n-cheese or Grubhub deliveries. So by the time she’s finally back home on the weekends, she has pretty fierce cravings for home cooked meals. Spoiling people with delicious food is what us Southern gals do best and so I do my best to accommodate any of her special requests. This past week she was in Little Rock Arkansas again and her hotel was right next to an Outback Steak house. She’d leave the hospital after a grueling 14 hour work day, park her rental car, and make her away across the lonely parking lot with charred steak wafting in the night air around her. Too exhausted to tolerate crowds and too many emails still pending in her inbox, she’d trudge up to her empty hotel room, grudgingly passing by the medium rare morsels and red wine next door, and snack on cheese and crackers instead. She’d fall asleep dreaming about butter and rosemary and filet mignon.
Needless to say, she came home late Friday night, hugged me, and immediately asked if I’d grill steak and potatoes for her. After hearing about the torture of staying next door to a steak house all week, I’d already had a menu in mind before she asked. Plus firing up the grill is one of my favorite things to do, so I was all too willing to satisfy her caveman cravings. Besides, cooking her a special dinner she’s dreamed about all week helps us both reconnect with each other when she gets back home. The following morning, after putting Pecan wood chips in a water bath, I made a supply run to the local butcher near me, Herman’s Quality Meats and picked up two 7 oz filets then popped into the food co-op around the corner for vegetables. After unloading the groceries, I grabbed my garden shears and walked down my front steps to the little one year old rosemary bush I’m so proud of and cut off several fresh sprigs. Breathing the aroma in, I knew I wanted to really present this fabulous herb in a new way. Chimichurri, with it’s bright bold flavors, came to mind and I thought why the heck not? So I did my prep work, popped a top on my favorite grill buddy beer, and set about the comforting task of creating fire and smoke.
After a couple hours of grilling, we sat down at the kitchen island with char laden plates and I patiently waited for Amy to cut into her steak, the moment of truth for any cook. To my relief and delight her steak was perfectly medium rare and as she took that first bite, she closed her eyes suspending and savoring the moment as long as possible, and slowly said with an unapologetic mouth full of food, “T… that’s the best damn steak I’ve ever had in my entire life! And these sauces! They should be on a five star menu!” Of course, I realize she’s awfully biased but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it feels really amazing to successfully delight the person you love the most with a beautiful plate of delicious food, especially when they spent the entire day looking forward to it. Growing up I heard Southern woman after Southern woman repeat to me, “The fastest way to a [woman’s] heart is through [her] stomach.” Well, I may have had to edit their words of wisdom just a little bit but the saying is absolutely true. The couple that cooks together, stays together.
Grilled Filet with Pan Roasted Garlic Au Jus and Rosemary Chimichurri
2 7oz Filets
1 teaspoon Grapeseed Oil
about a 1/4 teaspoon Celtic Gray Sea Salt, or salt of choice
fresh cracked Black Pepper to taste
Garnish: Pan Roasted Garlic Au Jus & Rosemary Chimichurri, recipes follow
Prepare a charcoal grill. While coals are heating up, set the filets on a cutting board and evenly coat with the Grapeseed oil and a generous amount of coarse sea salt and black pepper. Set the steaks aside and allow them to reach room temperature. Once coals are hot, move the coals about so that the majority of coals are on one side of the grill. Next sear the steaks about 3 minutes per side on the hottest part of the grill. Once seared, move to indirect heat, cover and cook the steaks an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Adjust cooking time according to how hot your grill is, how thick the steaks are, and to what doneness you prefer your steaks. Medium rare has an internal temperature of 125 to 130 degrees, depending on how thick the filets are. Steaks require a little bit of practice so just keep at it until you get the hang of how done you like them. Allow the steaks to rest at least 10 minutes but preferably 15 to 20 minutes. Garnish the steaks with the warm Pan Roasted Garlic Au Jus and the bright and earthy Rosemary Chimichurri.
Pan Roasted Garlic Au Jus
4 cloves Garlic, left whole, skins removed and slightly crushed
1 small Shallot, diced
1/2 cup dry Red Wine
1/2 cup Water
1 teaspoon Vegetable Better than Bouillon
2 generous tabs of Butter, divided
Salt to taste
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt one tab of butter then saute the shallot until tender and translucent about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute another 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the red wine, water, and vegetable bouillon and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally about 15 minutes. Once the sauce has reduce (you want it thickened but not as thick as a gravy) finish it with a tab of butter. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve warm over grilled steaks.
5 or 6 sprigs fresh Rosemary, stem removed
1/2 cup Parsley
3 tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar, or to taste
about 1/4 cup extra virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a small food processor, pules all ingredients until mostly smooth. Add additional olive oil or a small bit of water if needed to reach your desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve over Char Grilled Filets.
Note: I opted for pretty acidic and extra bright Chimichurri to balance the sweet, rich garlic au jus and decadent filets. The two sauces here are best when served together.
Charred Lemon Broccoli and Asparagus
1 to 2 heads of Broccoli, trimmed slightly
1 bunch Asparagus, trimmed
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
about 1 to 2 tablespoons Grapeseed oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Prepare a charcoal grill. While coals are heating up, toss the broccoli and asparagus with the juice from half a lemon, Grapeseed oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Once coals are hot, preferably in a grill basket, char the broccoli and asparagus until tender about 5 to 10 minutes or until your desired tenderness. Serve immediately.
Pecan Smoked Russet Potatoes
2 organic Russet potatoes, washed and allowed to dry
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Grapeseed oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 to 3 large Pecan wood chunks, soaked at least an hour
2 sheets aluminum to wrap potatoes, optional
Prepare a charcoal grill. While coals are heating up, coat the potatoes in the oil, salt and pepper. Wrap in aluminum foil, if desired. Wrapping them in foil allows you to put them on the grill and basically forget about them for 60 to 90 minutes. However, I opted to not wrap them for this recipe, as I wanted as much char and smoke on the skins as possible, but this meant I had to watch the potatoes more closely.
Once the coals are hot, place the soaked Pecan wood chunks on the indirect side of your coals. Next sear the potatoes on the hottest part of your grill and watch out for flare ups from the oil. Once you’ve seared the potato skins move to indirect heat, cover, and cook the potatoes from 60 to 90 minutes depending on the heat of your grill and size of the potatoes. If cooking without the foil, occasional check the potatoes and turn and/or move them about the grill for even cooking. Serve immediately with your favorite garnishes. I like mine with butter, sour cream, a good sprinkle of Jane’s Crazy Mixed Up Salt and lots of black pepper. Amy likes her’s with a generous tab or two of butter only.