Nathan Myrhvold’s Modernist Cuisine is the most groundbreaking cookbook collection to come out in the past century. It takes the mostly passe
molecular gastronomy craze a step further by applying scientific methods to cooking that will give the diner what is the best way to prepare traditional dishes. More than merely focusing on spherical oils, gels, mousses, airs, agar and liquid nitrogen, the cookbook focuses more on using the latest techniques to come up with the ideal preparation for different dishes. The main problem is that most of the recipes require expensive equipment, such as a sous vide machine, to prepare the dishes. However, the New York Times
challenged Mr. Myrhvold to come up with easy-to-prepare meals that the average home cook could produce, based on his revolutionary cookbook.
The article calls for the application of an industrial blowtorch, and not your fancy pansy creme brulee torch. Having neither, I went for the alternative – searing in a smoking hot pan with a bit of oil. I seasoned the still-frozen prime rib-eyes with sea salt and hand-ground pepper, seared them for a minute on each side and for a few seconds for the strips of fat on the edges.
Then, not having an oven either, I just put them on a rack in my turbo broiler, set on thaw (the article calls for 200 degrees Farenheit), for 40 minutes. I was surprised that there was hardly any moisture loss (i.e. three or four mere drops). I wasn’t too happy with the crust, so I went back to the pan afterwards and seared the edges a bit longer. The end result speaks for itself – beautifully cooked, just barely medium rare beef, consistently pink throughout without the “bulls-eye” of coloring from gray to pink to red that one can easily get from pan-grilling a steak. This was actually much easier than any other cooking method I tried: no hassle of defrosting, and minimal room for error as opposed to when one works with high cooking temperatures. The best part of cooking low and slow is that if you leave your steak in for a few minutes, there won’t be much of a difference in the end product. Case in point: if The Goose Station cooks its steaks sous vide for twenty-four hours, then what difference will another ten minutes make, right?
The steaks were carved, topped with more sea salt, and served. For sides, just the addictive home fries, cooked in the oil used to sear the steaks, with a bit of duck fat added; plus a rustic salad of chopped tomatoes, onions and toasted leftover bread tossed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Beer pairing was more of an afterthought, as I was almost done with my steak when I remembered that I had a bottle of Victory Storm King Stout in the fridge. I’ve written about the versatile, Storm King before, paired with cheeses, as well as in a mid-afternoon breakfast. Now, I’ve tried it in the classic stout and steak pairing, and it still works. A big, robust beer goes well with a hefty slab of meat. I remembered as well that it was the day after St. Patrick’s Day, and not having celebrated the night before, I thought I’d fix myself a little something for dessert.
After downing around half of the beer, I just popped in a scoop of vanilla ice cream from Arce Dairy. Unfortunately, that was sugarfree ice cream, and the result didn’t taste quite as rich as I wanted it to. Next time, I might as well go for it and use a thick, decadent ice cream. It was interesting though: a bit of sweetness and creaminess at first, making the viscous stout even thicker, and then followed by some hop bitterness. I’d probably go for a more mild stout next time. I’ve noted how hoppy the Storm King can be, and it was a bit overpowering with the ice cream. Maybe I’ll go for an oatmeal stout next, or better yet, Southern Tier’s Jah-va as I still have a bottle left over.
I’m also looking forward to using stout itself as an ice cream base, and making stout-ice cream milkshakes instead of just floats. Luckily, summer is here, barbecue parties are in the works, and I have one paper and couple exams left until I say goodbye to law school forever.