I love chef’s cookbooks. They are published to be displayed in their restaurants and to catch your eye on end caps and display tables in bookstores. The big orange clogs or impish face peeking out of a helmet on a Vespa have become iconic. One of my favorite’s is Gennaro Contaldo’s and was signed to me while we were eating in his London restaurant. I have all of the River Cafe books and several other chef’s colorful and expensive cooking guides.
I can sit for hours and browse through these tomes of culinary masterpieces. Inspiration abounds. What I almost never do is cook from them. There are a few exceptions. Jamie Oliver actually cooks at home and his Family Dinners is really useful. For the most part, the celebrity/professional chef have no idea what it is like to cook at home. I would think that Keller hasn’t been in a supermarket since the 80’s. The freshest and most amazing food just shows up at the kitchen door of his restaurants every day without fail, by purveyors selling meat and produce that sometimes aren’t even available to the likes of you and me. Even if a pro is a calling for common ingredients, he or she is used to developing recipes to feed 40 or 400, not 4. Although you will hear me go on about ratios, the process is completely different with restaurant cooking.
When I was developing my first cookbook, I swore off all cookbooks for a year. Unless I was stumped about an ingredient, they remained poised on the shelf, overlooking my madness. Even before my sabbatical from cookbooks, the only one that I used with any regularity was from my friend Kirk. He is an amazing home chef. He is Italian and lives in a beautiful place near Seattle. He penned a cookbook several years ago that was never published. I have cooked nearly every recipe in it and have found that not only do they all work, the results are always good and often astounding. I am paraphrasing one here.
Tomorrow, I hear that there is a football game on the television that many will be witnessing. These events always require beer and other forms of alcoholic beverages. I’m all for that, but there is one caveat to the afternoon ritual. Unlike most food and drink, which is broken down in our stomach and passed along for further processing, alcohol is absorbed directly through the lining of the stomach. This is why you can get tipsy on an empty stomach. When there is food in there keeping the stomach busy, the alcohol is slowed. Also, when you have a feeling of fullness you tend not to drink as much. Protein is especially slow to digest so is a perfect foil for that six pack of beer.
This recipe can be prepared in advance and can be cooked in 5 minutes. You can serve these in small pieces, or as sandwiches or whole. Your guests will love them.
Serves 4 (but doubling or tripling is really easy)
- 4 Boneless Ribeye or New York Strip (or whatever the Manager’s Special is)
- 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
- 4 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 2 Teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes
- Salt and Pepper
- Large Bowl
- Large Pan or Grill Pan
- Heavy, Unbreakable Object for Pounding
- Chef’s Knife
- 16 oz. Plastic Bag, or Plastic Wrap
- Place a steak in the bag and pound until thin. You want to flatten it to about 1/4 of the original thickness. I actually have a tool for this, but any heavy, blunt object will do. I have used a measuring cup and a rolling pin. Make sure you beat the steak on an unbreakable, solid surface. I use a plastic cutting board on my counter.
- Repeat for all steaks.
- Mix the olive oil with the garlic, red pepper and a good amount of salt and pepper in the bowl.
- Dredge each steak in the mixture, making sure that each are thoroughly coated with the mixture.
- If you want to do this ahead of time, place steaks on a plate and cover or store in a plastic bag and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before cooking.
- Depending on the thickness, these will cook over high heat for as little as two minutes a side. Forget about medium-rare, they cook all the way through quite quickly.