We were beginning to enjoy the cool fall weather. And then it hit. In Southern California, we call it the Santa Anas. You might know it as Indian Summer. Put simply, it got @#$%ing hot!!! 110 in the shade.
Life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. The perfect opportunity for a last barbecue or two. So the other night, we called some friends over and did Texas-style. Stood out on the deck with my tongs like a cowboy. Hollered at the chickens and the kids, spit into a tin. Perhaps it’s still warm where you are, and you’ll want to try it too. Put on some Patsy Cline and call the cowboys in…
More knowledgeable people than I could speak more articulately on the regional differences in barbecue. In Texas, I know they love their beef, and they like chilies. I know you’ll love this steak with salty-sweet chili rub. To go with it, I made cheese grits and an iceberg wedge salad with bleu cheese dressing and pancetta — neither strictly Texan, but pretty good foils to the flavorful steak. We drank one of our big jammy family zinfandels — there’s no better varietal with barbecue. Of course, beer, a nice mint julep or even a zesty margarita would’ve paired well. This Texas dinner will serve 4, amply.
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Cowboy-Style Grilled Steak
2 lbs good steak on the bone (rib-eye, preferably; but porterhouse is good too)
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp pimenton (Spanish smoked sweet paprika) or regular paprika
1 tsp ground chipotle pepper
1 tsp ground pasilla or other mild red chili
Take steaks out of the fridge about one hour before you grill. In the meantime, combine other ingredients to make a rub. About 10 minutes before grilling, sprinkle steaks evenly with rub. Gently massage the rub into the meat.
Heat your BBQ as high as it will go — mine gets up around 600 degrees. Cook your steaks 3 or 4 minutes on each side, depending on thickness, until cook medium or medium rare to your preference. Remove, cover with foil, and let sit for 10 minutes. Then use a very sharp knife to cut across the grain into 1/2 inch thick slices. Spread a few slices on each person’s plate, and serve with cheese grits.
(Note: I highly recommend buying some Anson Mills grits from the link on this blog. They’re about the best grits on earth. While you’re there, pick up some dried polenta, including the fabulous rustic polenta integrale. Make your shipping costs worthwhile!)
1 cup dried grits
1/2 cup grated cheddar
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano or asagio
1 tbsp butter
salt & pepper to taste
Heat about 2 cups of water in a pot to a simmering boil, and add dried grits. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring and adding more water frequently, for up to an hour. Grits should be tender and not at all crunchy. Add salt and pepper to taste, then stir in cheeses. Stir in butter last, and then cover and let sit for five minutes. Scoop some onto each of four plates, and surround with a fan of the steak slices.
Iceberg Wedge Salad
1 head iceberg lettuce
1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese (roquefort, gorgonzola, etc.)
1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp mayonnaise
4 strips pancetta (or bacon), cooked to crisp
salt & pepper
Remove the core from the lettuce, and cut into quarter wedges. Mix the bleu cheese, milk and mayo vigorously together until it forms a thick dressing (some chunks of bleu cheese should remain). Drizzle some dressing over each of the wedges, then drizzle with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and lay a cooked strip of pancetta on top of each. Serve.