When we were younger, we ate more steak. My son, home from college this summer, reminds me that he is still "younger" and needs steak regularly. Especially during grilling season.
The steak of his dreams is inspired by Goodwood Barbecue Co., one of our favorite restaurants in Utah. After a day outdoors exercising while on vacation, indulging in steak proved a good idea. Their mopped Delmonico etched itself in our minds forever. The thick prime rib steak, cooked over wood, gets mopped with a zesty barbecue sauce just before it comes off the grill. We savored every bite.
This Fourth of July, we're grilling our own version to celebrate this great country and the plethora of steaks on sale for the holiday.
Delmonico steak, made famous by the original Delmonico's restaurant in New York City, always makes me swoon when it's offered on menus. I know I'll get a generous portion of a rich piece of beef. There's some debate about which cut of steak makes a Delmonico, but we're opting for a bone-in rib steak for its shape, ease of cooking and decadent texture from lots of marbling.
To cook steaks properly, don't go too thick or too thin. In our experience, 1- to 1 1/4-inch-thick steaks cook beautifully everywhere from the grill to the broiler to a hot skillet. This thickness also takes well to aggressive seasoning on the exterior yet leaves you with a definite steak sensation in the center. Don't trim the fat too closely — you'll want to leave a little to keep the cooking moist and so it chars nicely, which adds flavor.
Whenever possible, buy choice or prime steaks for the best flavor and most marbling, which means more foolproof cooking. Steaks graded "select" are very lean and supereasy to render dry and tough. Grass-fed steaks sold at natural grocery stores and online prove worth the added cost for the lessened environmental impact and rich flavor.
I take a two-step approach to seasoning these thick steaks: First, a simple rub applied a couple of hours in advance. Second, the mop with a smoky barbecue-inspired steak sauce. Our sauce recipe cooks in just 10 minutes and will keep a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.
Good steaks deserve high-heat cooking and the flavor of hardwood charcoal. After all, that's what we get when we go to our favorite steak joints. Select natural charcoal so the meat doesn't taste like chemicals. Alternatively, for gas-grilling, soak natural wood chips in water, then make a foil packet of them (pierced with holes) and place it over the heat source to add smoke.
The steak recipe doubles easily for a larger crowd. I plan on one generous steak per person — after all, it's a holiday. Alternatively, select smaller steaks, such as a boneless strip steak.
This steak came out so well my son told me that the restaurant had nothing on me. He just hoped he can order it again soon. First, we're going hiking.
Smoky barbecue steak sauce
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Makes: about 1 1/2 cups
1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup each: apple cider vinegar, dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon bacon fat, optional
1 ½ teaspoons pureed chipotle in adobo or 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan. Simmer over low heat, about 10 minutes. Cool; store in a jar in the refrigerator up to a couple of weeks.
Per tablespoon: 26 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 6 g carbohydrates, 0 g protein, 169 mg sodium, 0 g fiber.
Simple steak rub
Look for sweet smoked paprika in the spice section or order it from penzeys.com.
Mix 2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper in a small bowl. Store in a jar up to a couple of weeks.
Smoky grilled Delmonico mopped steaks
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 11 minutes
Makes: 4 generous servings
Note: Other steak choices good here include top loin strip steak, T-bone and porterhouse. Top sirloin and flat-iron steaks also work; just be sure to cook them no more than medium-rare so they stay moist.
4 beef rib steaks on the bone, each about 1 inch thick and weighing about 14 ounces
1 recipe simple steak rub
½ cup smoky barbecue steak sauce
1. Place steaks on a platter. Sprinkle each with about 1 teaspoon of the steak rub. Flip the steaks and sprinkle the other side with the rub. Refrigerate uncovered while you prepare the grill (or better yet, for 3 to 4 hours).
2. Prepare a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium high. Put the steaks directly over the heat source. Cover; cook, 6 minutes. Flip the steaks; baste with some of the sauce. Cover the grill; cook 3 minutes. Flip the steaks again; baste the other side with sauce. Grill, covered, until medium-rare, 1-2 minutes.
3. Transfer the steaks to a board; let rest a couple of minutes before serving.
Per serving: 783 calories, 43 g fat, 17 g saturated fat, 257 mg cholesterol, 15 g carbohydrates, 80 g protein, 1,019 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.
Grilled smashed sweet potatoes with smoky almonds
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Makes: 4 generous servings
4 medium-large sweet potatoes, about 3 1/2 pounds total
3 to 4 tablespoons butter
¾ cup smoked almonds, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or oregano (or a combination)
3 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or green onion tops
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1. Scrub potatoes clean. Pierce skin in several places with a fork. Microwave on high until a fork is easy to insert, usually 12-14 minutes. (Turn potatoes over midway through the cooking.) Put cooked potatoes on a cutting board. (Potatoes can be cooked to this point up to 1 hour in advance; cover and let rest.)
2. Prepare a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium-high.
3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small nonstick skillet. Add almonds. Cook, stirring, until butter is foamy and almonds are starting to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in rosemary and chives.
4. Use a large spatula to press the warm cooked potatoes (skin and all) to an even 1-inch thickness. (The skin will break; that's OK.) Drizzle on both sides with olive oil; sprinkle with salt.
5. Place the potatoes on the grill directly over the heat source. Cover the grill; cook until richly browned and crisped, 4-5 minutes. Carefully flip the potatoes. Brown the other side. Transfer to a large platter. Spoon the almond mixture over the potatoes. Serve.
Per serving: 429 calories, 22 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 23 mg cholesterol, 54 g carbohydrates, 9 g protein, 308 mg sodium, 10 g fiber.