Saturday, May 25, 2013

Day 13 - Grilling a Steak

I have never grilled a steak. Of all the things on my "I have never..." list, this was the one that drew the most statements of disbelief and looks of disappointment from my group of friends. In fact, the majority of them found my inexperience with throwing a slab of choice cut beef onto a searing hot metal grate to be a form of sacrilege against manliness. As a result, I knew I needed to make room for grilling a steak early in "I have never..." experience, and the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend seemed the perfect time to give it a go.

Bring it.

To prepare for this evening's event, I went to our local grocery store late this afternoon to pick up the necessary items for the task. Upon entering the store I was greeted by rows upon rows of fruits and vegetables stacked in racks sprouting from the concrete floor. This seemed a good place to start considering I had not planned any aspect of the meal prior to that moment, and I knew I had to cook something to accompany the main course.

I began floating around the produce section trying to pinpoint the perfect side for the meal. I perused the items before me thinking, "Steak... Steak... What goes with steak?" as my eyes darted from one display to the next. My inexperience with cooking such a meal was apparent then, and I knew I had to keep things simple. "Steak and... potatoes.  That works." I thought as I stood motionless in the center of the produce section. I quickly text Rachael to confirm we had potatoes at home as I continued thinking. "What goes with potatoes?" I thought as I approached the back of the produce section.  Just then I received a response from Rachael confirming we had potatoes at home. As my eyes pulled away from the phone I immediately focused on packages of mixed bell peppers. "...Peppers!  Yes!" I thought as I grabbed a package from the open cooler that divided the produce section from the rest of the store. I thought a second longer as I took a few slow steps toward the edge of the barrier before me. "Asparagus! I always see asparagus with steak in advertisements and stuff!" popped into my head at that moment forcing me to double back and find a bundle of the vegetable. I was on a roll, and the only thing left to do was find my main course.

I walked to the back of the store and stared at the rows and rows of meat lining the glass coolers. Knowing red meat is not my forte, I looked over the various choices for several minutes. Eventually, one of the employees asked if I needed help. I politely advised him I needed a few minutes, realizing I likely looked as confused as a child trying to learn algebra for the first time. I rifled through the names of various steaks I knew were popular, and landed on a row of 12 ounce angus rib eye steaks that were advertised heavily for the holiday weekend. The employee, who had been following me as I wandered up and down the aisle, approached the counter again and asked me if I had made a decision. "I'll take two of those..." I said pointing with a hint of uncertainty. "Any in particular?" he shot back on queue. Unprepared for his question, I lifted my brow and lightly shook my head. "Um, you know this stuff better than I do. Just give me the two you would take home for your family, I guess." The employee smiled and nodded,  "No problem." A few minutes later I was on my way out of the store feeling like I was wading deep into something I was underprepared to tackle, but that wasn't about to stop me from trying to cook a steak for my very first time.

I arrived home and promptly began preparations for the meal. I lit the grill, and, with Rachael's help, I had the potatoes and peppers in a grill-ready foil pack in minutes. The asparagus soon followed suit. I placed the foil packs on the grill, went back inside, unwrapped my steaks and set them on a plate. Rachael came outside with a bottle of Merlot and poured two glasses. Everything was in order. I just needed to wait from the opportune moment to throw the steaks on the grill.

Grillin' it, and grillin' it, and grillin' it well

After some time, the charcoal briquettes were white and the grill was ready. Both foil packs had begun to steam telling me the vegetables were done cooking. It was time to commit. So, without hesitation I threw the steaks on the grill and crossed my fingers. I remembered getting the advice "four minutes per side" as a guiding rule for cooking steak when I previously discussed this entry on my "I have never..." list with a friend.  As a result, that's the time frame I used for my effort, and after eight minutes I was ready to see how successful my attempt had been. With a little salt and pepper as the final touch, I removed the steaks from the grill and piled them onto a large plate with the steamed vegetables. I was surprised at how good everything looked, and I was hopeful my cooking experiment would turn out well.

The first cut into the steak confirmed that hope. I had successfully cooked both steaks to a nice medium.  The first bite was tender and juicy, and the vegetables, although a little overcooked, complemented the steak well. For a first attempt, I nailed it and it felt damn good. For some time Rachael and I ate and drank, recapping the events of the day and talking about our plans for the next few. Delighted at my effort, I ate the whole of my steak and vegetables. Rachael wasn't about to take on that quantity of food, but she was pleased with the meal and offered me compliments on my effort. I cooked a steak for the first time, and somehow, I had made it look like I knew what I was doing.

It is not likely cooking steak will become a routine part of my thin cooking repertoire, but it is nice to know I can now say I conquered one of the "badges of manliness" that is sewn into the very fabric of our society. The next time I'm presented the opportunity to cook a steak I will be able to come at it with confidence and will likely be able to pull it off...  I cooked a steak. That's another one off of the list. I have nothing left to do but keep this thing rolling.

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