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While headlining the Cayman Cookout last weekend, culinary power duo Eric Ripert and Anthony Bourdain commanded a beachfront stage at the Ritz-Carlton to teach an audience of epicureans some fundamental cooking techniques—from roasting a whole chicken and making pasta, to mastering a classic French omelet and grilling a perfect steak.
According to Bourdain, most people murder their steaks on a daily basis. His impassioned plea was that the crowd, at the very least, would walk away knowing how to properly treat their meat.
And while most of us Northerners won’t be firing up the grill anytime soon, those in warmer climates (or brave souls willing to bear single digits!) should get the barbecue basics down before their next steak craving hits.
Steak grilling tips à la Eric & Tony:
Bring to temperature. “Take your steak out of the fridge for at least 15-20 minutes before cooking it. This way, you will be able to sear the steak nicely, get a nice crust, and have the insides cook to your liking. If you don’t do that, you can burn the outside and the inside can still be raw. Bringing the meat to temperature is very important.”
Get your grill hot. “You want to be sure your grill is nice and hot before throwing your meat on there, but you don’t want the flames to be roaring and destroy your steak. Don’t go crazy. It’s more about how it tastes on the inside, and not about how it looks on the outside.”
Don’t mess with it. “After you throw it on a reasonable fire, leave it alone. Don’t poke it, don’t stab it, don’t start peeking into it by jabbing holes in it! If you must move it, move it once—45 degrees, thereby giving those perfect checkerboard grill marks that make steaks look so sexy. Beyond that, you don’t want to flip it over, and flip it back over…no good will come of it.”
Let it rest. “The single most important thing that everybody gets wrong, generation after generation…they take a perfectly good rare or medium-rare steak off the grill, and cut right into it prematurely. They figure that steak served hot is better. It isn’t! A steak should rest for about 5-7 minutes after you take it off the grill. It won’t become cold, but the muscle will start to relax and become tender. And all the blood and juices start moving around and settling in really interesting ways. That’s the way to go.”
What do you think of Eric & Tony’s techniques? Any other steak tricks you’ve learned?
Check out my gallery here for more images of Eric, Tony and the Cayman Cookout crew.
In Provincial France, a Mas is known as a country farmhouse that grows all the products to nourish the estate onsite. Though located in the heart of the West Village, Mas (la grillade) seeks out seasonal ingredients from small, organic and sustainable farms in communities surrounding New York City—thus forming its “estate.”
Since 2004, chef Galen Zamarra has been a leader in farm-to-table dining at Mas (farmhouse), his first WV establishment. Utilizing his years of experience, farmer connections and sustainable approach to fine dining, Galen opened Mas (la grillade) in late 2011. He showcases a seasonal menu of locally grown, sustainably raised foods cooked solely over fires of oak, apple and other hardwoods. When you open the Seventh Avenue South doors, you’ll be greeted by the sweet fragrance of smoky, burning wood. A small bar and glass-walled wine room open into an elegant split-level dining room filled with wood tables, white tablecloths and a bright skylight ceiling.
The prix fixe and à la carte menu debuts fresh starters, like a salad of sliced roasted beets, pickled onions, marinated cucumbers and velvety smoked ricotta. Precise fire-grilled preparations let the flavors and beautiful qualities of the ingredients shine in each dish. An entrée of grilled duck presented succulent smoky medallions, rimmed with a thin layer of fat beneath the skin, plated over tender Swiss chard. Perfectly seared scallops laid atop a bed of grilled fennel and spring greens, drizzled with vibrant saffron-dill aioli. A subtle smokiness permeated every element on the plate; it was lovely.
Grilled vegetables, like wild ramps and hen of the wood mushrooms, along with fruit-based desserts, artisanal cheeses and house-made ice creams complete the menu. Creamy ricotta and local honey ice creams were already melting when placed on our table; nonetheless, they provided a tangy, refreshing finish to an overall wonderful meal.
My review as published in the Clean Plates Manhattan 2013 Restaurant Guide Book (purchase it here) and on CleanPlates.com. Photo courtesy of Mas (la grillade).