BBQ 25 by Adam Perry Lang – as interpreted by BBQ, Esq. – Effort #2

12 Mar

Last week, I started a serial interpretation of the recipes and techniques in Adam Perry Lang’s book “BBQ 25.” Tonight, I continued the cook-through by tackling the second of the 25 recipes in the book: Chuck Steaks & Leaner-Cut Steaks.

This recipe describes a technique for tenderizing and flavorizing steaks cut from the chuck, sirloin and round primal cuts of beef. These cuts generally are leaner, with less internal marbling than the steaks cut from the rib and short loin. Still, they can be wonderfully flavorful and inexpensive to serve if prepared correctly.

Growing up, these were the cuts my mother would pound with a tenderizing mallet, dredge in flour and fry in a cast iron skillet, using the pan drippings to make a thick gravy. Still a wonderfully delicious way of serving these steaks, but I decided to use these steaks (and a cast iron skillet) in a different way.

Mr. Lang’s technique for leander cuts start with a marinade of Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, black pepper, sweet onion, chopped garlic, garlic salt, thyme and chile powder. I made the marinade last night and put a 1 pound chuck steak in a large zip-lock bag and poured the marinade over the steak, pressed out the air and tossed the steak in the refrigerator to hang out. I did make a couple of substitutions in the marinade. I used onion powder, granulated garlic and dried thyme instead of fresh onions, garlic and thyme. Yes, I know, the fresh ingredients would be better, but it was late and I was tired from a round of golf with the Professor and didn’t want to schlep out to Publix at that hour of the night, so I made the substitutions in the ingredients and quantities (about half the recommended measurement of the fresh ingredients).

I decided to cook on my Weber Char-Q charcoal grill tonight. The Char-Q is a discontinued member of the Weber Q series of grills (others being the Baby Q, Q 100, Q 200 series and Q 300 series of propane grills – I have a couple of these and they are great smaller sized gas grills – one of them is the official grill of the Bourbon n Que Tailgate Crew), having been discontinued, one would imagine, because of cheaper (and inferior) offerings by Weber’s competitors in the Char-Q’s price range. The Char-Q is typical Weber quality – a cast aluminum body, configured in a clam-shell style arrangement, with – and this is the killer – heavy cast iron grill grates. The cast iron grates on my Q series grills lay down grill marks like nothing else I own.

After removing the chuck steak from the marinade, I patted each side dry, then “glistened” the steak with Canola. The grill grates had heated up nicely and the steak went on with a satisfying sizzle. Here’s where the cast iron skillet comes in. Mr. Lang suggests pressing on the steak with a bacon press or foil-wrapped bricks to keep the meat in contact with the grill grate. If you have ever cooked a thin cut steak, they tend to want to curl up on the edge, especially if there is a band of fat along the edge of the steak. The heavy object – bacon press or foil lined brick, for example – keeps the meat in contact with the grill and keeps it from curling. I used a 10″ Lodge Cast Iron skillet that I use in and around my grills.

The Lodge skillet (made in the USA in South Pittsburgh, Tennessee) is heavy, flat-bottomed and did a nice job of keeping the steak flat. Mr. Lang calls for cooking the steak until it is “nicely caramelized and charred on both sides, approximately 12 minutes total….” His grill must have been cooler or his steaks thicker, because the Char Q was running at north of 475 degrees on a chimney full of Kingsford briquettes and in 8 minutes (4 on each side) the steak was hitting “medium.” I normally would have pulled the steak at medium-rare, but it was cooking fast, so it was medium before I got it off. When I flipped the steak, I did remember to baste it according to Mr. Lang’s recommendations using Canola oil infused with some Dizzy Pig Cow Lick Steak Rub. That may have helped the steak to remain moist even though I overshot the my desired temperature.

After I pulled the steak, I brushed it again with the Canola / Dizzy Pig mixture and brought it in. The steak had a dual purpose tonight: (1) to be used as filling for an enchilada casserole that Melissa was cooking for dinner and (2) for me to eat aside from the casserole since I didn’t want to eat as much cheese and flour tortilla as I would have had I put all of the beef into the enchilada casserole. So, how did it turn out?

Quite well actually! The meat was well-seasoned, with the flavors of the Worcestershire, onion powder and garlic noticeable but not overpowering. Their was a hit of spiciness from the chile powder (I use Chipotle) and the Dizzy Pig. As a steak, the tenderness was good, not great – after all this was a chuck steak (not chuck eye – one of my favorites) – but the steak was very tasty and quite satisfying. As filling for the enchiladas, the steak was outstanding! I chopped the steak for that went into the enchilada casserole and it was perfectly seasoned for the purpose. I would have really liked to have eaten more of the enchilada casserole – it was excellent – but I didn’t need all the cheese and tortillas.

The verdict on recipe number 2 from APL’s BBQ 25 is that it is a definite “do again.” Lean cuts of beef like chuck, sirloin (especially top sirloin) and eye of round frequently are on sale in my area for several dollars per pound less than my favorite cuts. I don’t think any of these leaner cuts will replace my rib-eyes and Porterhouses as my weekend “comfort” steaks but they can be tasty and economical week-day cuts.Next time, I think I will bring the temperature of the grill down to around 350-400 to make sure the I can catch the target temperature on the thinner steaks.

Two recipes down – only twenty-three more to go!


One Response to “BBQ 25 by Adam Perry Lang – as interpreted by BBQ, Esq. – Effort #2”

  1. Phellepa March 12, 2012 at 7:35 pm #

    Rock on!!

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