So… when I was a kid, our choices for steak night out were limited to:
1). A place called Harvey’s that had their menus printed on happy steer-shaped paper place-mats
2). A place called Buddy’s, a noisy place complete with red shiynl banquettes, wood paneling, and air permeated with the thick aromas of steak fat, french dressing and cigarettes (it was the 60’s.)
… we ate at Buddy’s more times than not.
And although all that up there now sounds really terrible, it was something really special back then. Even now I can close my eyes and be in the restaurant. All those smells, aromas, and memories of the six of us packed into a corner booth – eating our iceberg salad with the crackers, tomato wedges and onion rings awash in dressing – waiting on our steaks to arrive in those sizzle plates, the juices pooling into those odd tree-shaped valleys in the center of the platter come flooding back. Besides, I have to give it to them, they really did make a good steak.
I just don’t do steak much anymore. At my age, it just sits like a brick after dinner… and really – we try to eat healthier most of the time.
But sometimes you just want a steak.
I will almost always peruse the meat counter at the market. That doesn’t mean I always buy… but looking doesn’t hurt. This past week, the Manager’s special was T Bone. They were on sale ($3.50 a pound), and they looked particularly well marbled with a decent fat cap…. because let’s be honest – if you’re going to eat a steak, you’re going to eat that crispy grilled strip of delicious, slightly charred fat as well.
But… looking at the steaks laid out on show I noticed that they were all from the lower end of the loin… meaning porterhouse! The king of Steak! I couldn’t resist and picked up an 22 ounce, 1-1/2″ T Bone (porterhouse)… and giggled all the way home.
I’m not going to tell you how to cook a steak. From my experience – either you can… or you can’t. And no amount of instruction from anyone is going to fix that for you. Instead, I’m going to concentrate on Steakhouse Staples – Namely: Blue Cheese Dressing, Steak Mushrooms, and Salt Baked Potatoes
Salt Baked Potatoes
2 Large Russet Potatoes
1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
Preheat the oven to 485
Rinse the potatoes under water and tip the ends
While the potatoes are wet, liberally coat the skins and ends of the potatoes with the salt and place on a baking sheet
Bake in a 485 oven for 45 minutes
Pinch the center of the potatoes with an oven mitt ,when the meat gives with little resistance, it is done
Quickly rinse off most of the salt, leaving it coating the cut ends
Pop the potato open and fill with fresh butter
Although my own childhood steakhouse salad memory is French dressing, I figured I’d just go FULL FAT BOY adult tonight and make blue cheese.
Blue Cheese Dressing
Makes enough for 4 adult salads…
or 2 if your kids are pouring.
1/2 Cup Good Blue Cheese (Maytag), Plus 1 Tablespoon
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
1 Teaspoon Coarse Ground Black Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
Small Mixing Bowl
In the bowl, smash the tablespoon of cheese into a paste
Add the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and the buttermilk, stir until creamy
Fold in the crumbled blue cheese and seasonings, then give it a couple of good hard stirs
Cover and chill for a minimum of 30 minutes
Serve ladled over a crisp iceberg salad – complete with cucumber and radish slices, red onion rings and Captain Wafers
To be honest, Buddy’s didn’t serve mushrooms. You got salad, steak and foil wrapped tater. I didn’t have mushrooms out until they opened a Victoria’s Station near our house. (You remember them… that fancy, if not a tad glitchy, steakhouse in converted boxcars?)
Anyway, these days I can’t do steak without them.
And to get them right… there’s a trick.
Serves 2 to 4
1 Pound Button Baby Portabella, Crimini, or to be honest… any button mushroom will work
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon coarse Black Pepper
1 Ounce Amber Liquor (Here’s the thing, use the spirit you like. Bourbon will give it a little oaky- smokiness, Scotch will give it a little brightness. I personally love the woodsy, earthy flavors in a good, dark tequila)
1 Tablespoon Butter
Large Sauce Pan
When they start to squeak (trust me, they will) add the salt and continue to turn them over in the pan
The mushrooms will begin to release liquids rapidly – keep stirring until the juices begin to boil