by John Ore
A series on things to make, eat and imbibe this summer.
You know what? Forget about groups and gatherings. Enough with the ever-faithful host to the hordes, the slaving over the hot grill for others just to watch them bogart all of your ribs. Deep into the dog days of summer, it’s time to slow down and relax with a somewhat indulgent meal. Save it for one of those summer Saturday nights when you have nothing planned and nowhere particular to go. Sometimes a delightful summer evening requires nothing more than you and your sweetheart. And a huge hunk of beef.
Main: T-Bone Fiorentina
Sides: Grilled ramps and new potatoes
Booze: Northern Minnesota beer or Southern French wine
1 t-bone steak, about 3 inches thick (3 to 3 1/2 pounds)
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage leaves
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp olive oil
Let’s be sure to start off with a quality piece of meat. It won’t be cheap, but it’s worth it, and you should end up with enough leftovers to get a few meals out of it. Best bet is to have a pro carve you off a nice three-inch-thick t-bone steak from the sub-primal loin. Depending on where from the loin your steak is cut, it will have a varying amount of the tenderloin (filet mignon) on one side of the bone, with the strip steak on the other. This is the primary difference between the t-bone and the porterhouse: the porterhouse has more tenderloin, which a leaner, more tender, but less flavorful cut. Just tell your butcher which you prefer; they’ll usually ask.
Once you get the beast home, pat the steak dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, mix together the rosemary, sage, thyme, black pepper, and kosher salt. Rub the entire steak with the herb and seasoning mix, coating thoroughly, and brush with olive oil to help it stick. As with most steaks, you’ll be using a direct grilling method for this one, so place the meat on the grill directly over hot coals. Cook, covered with the vents wide open, for 20 minutes: around 12 minutes on the first side and 8 on the second. With the fiorentina, we’re looking for a nice crust and meat on the rarer side, so adjust the cooking time to suit your tastes.
Let stand 5–10 minutes before carving. Slice the meat away from the center bone and then cut into hearty ½ inch slices for serving. I won’t tell if a slice or two goes missing during the process.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, ramps are all trendy and Brooklyn, like kale. They are also super easy to grill, and a delicious complement to grilled beef. They are so flavorful that you just need to toss them with a little kosher salt, ground black pepper and olive oil, then fuss ’em on a grill pan until they start to brown a bit. Ramps are also delicate and can burn easily, so you probably only need about a minute or two a side.
Grilled New Potatoes
Upholding the other half of the traditional meat-and-potatoes pairing, potatoes always have a place on the grill. Scrub and quarter some new potatoes — be sure to leave the skins on, that’s where the vitamins are! — and toss with olive oil, kosher salt, ground black pepper, whole rosemary leaves and maybe some chopped garlic. Throw them in a grill pan or cast iron skillet over direct heat, tossing frequently to prevent them from getting too charred. You can boil the potatoes beforehand to cut down on the cooking time, finishing them on the grill.
While I’m always going to reach for red wine first when I even think about a steak like this (never before noon, though), I can think of a few beers that would also stand up nicely next to grilled beef. I had a Dubrue India Black Ale on a hot night in Duluth, MN, recently and it was pretty awesome. Toasty, malty, maybe a little chocolatey, with some nice hoppiness that would go well with the charred herb crust on the t-bone. I can even see a Guinness or Fuller’s working well with steak on a summer night, toasting the Olympics.
But this dish is just for the two of you, and staring deep into each other’s eyes over a plate of beef and a bottle of Southern Rhone wine just sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? Something like a Châteauneuf-du-Pape may sound cliche and maybe a little pretentious, but it’s dynamite paired with, you know, a freakin’ three-inch-thick t-bone steak. It just works. Plus, you’re only sharing it with the one you love. If you blew everything on the beef — which, if you are prioritizing, is the right decision — you can find plenty of reasonably-priced, tasty wines from Languedoc, with the meat-friendly Cabernet and Merlot grapes mingling with the more interesting Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Carignan varietals.
Or skip the booze. You’ll be meat-drunk anyway.
John Ore’s motto has always been “You and me and t-bone makes three.”