Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Raising the Steaks This Summer

Clifford Lichaytoo of Bacchus Epicerie shares with Travelife his secrets for the perfect barbecue.

When the sky turns a clear shade of blue, and the ambient heat is suddenly cooled by the shade of a tree, I know summer is definitely here. The midday heat can be unbearable, but as the afternoon light turns into a benign, golden shade that makes everything look good, the thought of hosting the perfect outdoor barbecue is tempting: good friends and engaging conversation, libations that slake the parching thirst, and - easily the piece de resistance – excellent cuts of steak sizzling and smoking on a grill, that lend the air an appetite-whetting waft.

For me summer barbecues can be as elegant, or as rough-and-ready, as you want. But this is a moot point really. If your wines and steaks are of the best quality, the rest are superfluous. And risking a shameless plug, Bacchus Epicerie’s beef is prime grade, and we’re ready to take your summer cookout to a higher level. We have levels of quality from our Wisconsin suppliers that are very close to Wagyu, at one-third the price. This is the best value for quality, premium grade food.

Hey don’t take my word for it. Slap a ribeye or porterhouse on the grill, and watch the light red steak -- the white marbling fat combined with the juicy redness of corn-fed beef -- turn a delicious red brown. With beef this good and just a dash Sicilian (Rock) Sea Salt, I can guarantee an almost perfect barbecue. The little details are up to you.

Bacchus Recommends: Wines for the summer barbecue

The French will always serve reds at ‘room temperature.’ But in emulating this, we commit a common mistake since rooms in France are probably 10 degrees cooler than those in the Philippines. Besides, a warm wine on a sweltering summer afternoon may be quite overwhelming. But cooling it in the fridge for two hours will turn it into a downright refreshing beverage. To me, the heat accentuates each wine’s bouquet of each wine, and sniffing a red through a narrow mouthed Reidel Sommelier Bordeaux or a White Vinum Chardonnay glass in my mind will bring you that much closer to the hints and notes hidden within the liquor.

Warm
Michele Chiarlo – Nivole
Moscato 2008

Asti, Italy
P550
A charming, straightforward, sweet sparkling white that hints of fresh, remarkably lively peaches and apricots. Served chilled, it comprises the perfect summer cooler.

Sizzling
Parallele 45 Rose 2008

Cotes du Rhone, France
Paul Jaboulet
A brilliant, salmon pink perfectly matches the slow march of the summer’s day, but an intense bouquet and a tart palate of berries belies its benign coloration.
Php 840

Red Hot
Louis Jadot (White Burgundy)
Macon Blanc Village 2007

Chardonnay
Dry and fruity, this wine with a floral bouquet and a hint of lemon is best served chilled. Goes well with grilled meats and fish.
Php 990

Downright Cool
New Zealand
Clos Henri Sauvignon Blanc 2007

Php 1,740
Offering a complex nose that resounds of pineapple and guava, tempered by strong minerality as evidenced by hints of chalk and flint. Served chilled, it’s acidity is quite refreshing in the afternoon heat.

Clos Henri Pinot Noir 2006
P2,100
A delightful counterpoint to dry and acidic wines, distinct notes of ripe plum and cherry, with hints of cinnamon and clove are reminiscent of a cool breeze under a tree’s shade, or the cooling heat at sunset.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Official Grading of Beef


Would you choose Angus over Wagyu? Guess what. It doesn’t really matter what kind of cow or breed your steak comes from. There are 20 distinct cattle breeds, but ultimately, it’s the grading that determines quality, and that has to be clearly marked on the package. Keep in mind that a single cow can produce steak cuts of differing grades.

The Grades:

Prime
Usually the steaks served at Peter Luger and Morton’s, or sold by high-end markets.

Choice
What is usually available in Gourmet Markets and Steak Houses.

Select
What common supermarkets have offered up.

While super prime is not an official grade, we will use it to describe the quality of beef available at Bacchus Epicerie.

Cooking the Perfect Steak the Bacchus Way
A Short Guide


Maximizing the flavor and tenderness of steak requires patience and understanding in the cooking of the dish. What follows are time tested methods that you can adopt. I guarantee, you’ll never cook steak the old, haphazard way again.

Defrosting
Do this gradually, ideally inside the refrigerator for 1-2 days. (Thawing a frozen steak in running water or in a microwave will spoil it!) But bring it to room temperature 30 minutes before cooking so that it cooks evenly inside and out.

Broiling
High, even heat of about 260 o Celsius will ensure a perfectly seared, crusted steak that is done on the outside, but red, juicy and tender (rare or medium rare) inside.


Grilling
Is a quick method using high heat usually from below, requiring a flip to ensure even cooking. An advantage of this is the smoky flavor imparted to the meat by using fragrant woods for embers.

Pan Frying
A default method, use a little fat and high heat to create perfect searing that seals the juices inside. A cast iron pan spreads and retains heat evenly, aiding consistent cooking. The Le Creuset Cast Iron Grill pans perform admirably in this respect.

Resting
Finally, give your meat a break of two to three minutes after cooking. This will allow for the absorption of the cooking juices.


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