Saturday, October 17, 2009
Here's the Beef
Well, I must say: THAT was fun. My first time ever judging Chef Troll's latest Culinary Throw Down, and wouldn't you know it, it was right up my alley.
As someone who spent her early years on a cattle ranch, whose father worked for many years after that as a butcher, and whose entire family is comprised of skilled and knowledgeable cooks, there was no way, Jose, I was going to grow up anything but an unabashed carnivore. And a knowledgeable one. You want to argue cuts of meat with an Italian grandmother, a butcher father, and a European farm-raised mother? Good luck with that.
That's not to say I don't understand and respect the many, many folks out there who have chosen not to partake in the eating of animal flesh (some of whom are even my nearest and dearest of friends), but me giving up meat would be like giving up high heels. Not. Gonna. Happen. Although, I do make very deliberate choices about where my beef comes from, which is thankfully easy enough to do in these parts, where you can't kick a cowpie without running across a boutique free range cattle ranching operation.
So naturally, I was thrilled that this Culinary Throw Down round challenged entrants with a Steak and Potatoes theme. The upside is that everyone who participated put out a really great dish. The downside is that I have to choose only one winner. Not. Easy.
Aunty's culinarily expedient entry was a mighty clever, if ultimately stomach-churning (por Moi), bit of fun.
Chef Troll crafted an ambitious, three part entry covering the rare, medium, and well done aspects of cooking beef and also stole a little piece of my heart with steak tartar and a homemade rosemary bread for his steak sandwich. So creative!
Miz Kym accompanied her oh-so-tasty-looking entry with one of my favorite tater sides: crash hot potatoes. Does a more yummy potato concoction exist in the universe? I think not.
Buzz thought outside the box by cooking a HAM steak instead of a beef steak. His simple but satisfying meal earned him extra points for also being family friendly. How many of us are responsible for putting dinner on the table each and every night for our families, regardless of how hectic the day, raise your hands.
La Diva, bless her, has been busy nursing a terrible virus and working her mojo to become the next great television pitch person, so she turned over the reins to her sidekick and personal deejay, DJ Nevah L8 (4 dinnah!), who tempted me with a delicious looking New York strip steak encrusted with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Another point-earner was the inclusion of sauteed shitake mushrooms. Perfection.
Wow. So tough!
However, as wonderful as ALL these dishes are, as mightily as they tempt my taste buds for the Golden Chef Award, the winning entry goes to:
KARL, who won the rest of my heart with his pan-fried (my favorite method for cooking beef) Peppercorn Steak with Garlic and Chive Mashed Potatoes. Not only did he include a medly of festive veggies to go along with the dish, he also included full recipes. But it was the sauce that won me over, a perfect accompaniment to the beef without overwhelming the flavor. So, Karl, come on over and grab your Golden Chef icon and post it with pride.
Thanks to all who participated and happy cooking!