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~ Culinary Q&A & Kitchen Therapy Too (5/6/11) ~

Culinary Q & A #2 Kitchen Encounters kicked off the grilling season this week and I want to thank you for all of your great feedback both here and over on my Facebook page!

Earlier in the week I posted my recipes for two great condiments that will add pizazz to whatever you are grilling:

My ~ Buttermilk, Blue Cheese 'n Chive Salad Dressing ~, found in Categories 8 & 10, will turn an ordinary garden salad into a show stopper that will compliment any steak  you grill all summer long.  My ~ Apricot-Mustard Sauce: For Dipping & Drizzling ~, also found in Categories 8 & 10, will take any chicken breast, pork or veal chop, as well as baked acorn or butternut squash and sweet potatoes over the top!

To view a short video/slideshow of how to make these two easy recipes:

Download Buttermilk, Blue Cheese 'n Chive Salad Dressing-Medium

Download Apricot-Mustard Sauce_ For Dipping or Drizzling-Medium

After I posted my picture of our first T-bone steak of the season over on Facebook, my friend Patty asked an important question:

PICT2124 Q.  Patty asks:  How do you cook a steak so it comes out medium with a little pink in the middle?  I can never get mine timed right.

A.  Kitchen Encounters:  Patty, this is a question that is harder to answer than one might think, because there is no magic formula for me to hand out.  Grilling is a very arbitrary sport, and all sorts of things, including the weather, affect the final outcome.  To quote my son Jess, who is an expert at the grill, "it's done when it's done"!   Steaks, in particular, seem to cause people the most angst, so don't feel alone.  I can, however, offer my top 5 tips that are sure to help:

Tip #1:  All grills are not created equal:  make friends with your heat source.  Joe and I have three different grills and each one of them cooks differently.  Joe has his favorite grill and I have mine.  The next time you cook a steak on your favorite grill, make a note of the type of steak you cooked, how thick it was and how long it took you to get it to medium, cooking it on both sides, turning it over once halfway through the grilling time.  Before you know it, you'll have a log that will have you cooking perfect steaks for yourself, your friends and family each and every time!

Tip #2:  All steaks are not created equal:  they all contain a different fat content which causes different cuts to cook differently.  That being said, the thickness affects cooking time a lot.  For instance:  My favorite thickness for a T-Bone is 1 1/2", and I like my steak rare.  On my favorite grill, I cook that steak 5-6 minutes per side.  I have also found that allowing all steaks to come to room temperature prior to grilling them contributes a lot to the end result.  Call me crazy, but I think if the fat and meat are at room temp when they go onto the hot grill, the steak comes off tenderer and juicier!

Tip #3:  Always start your steaks over high heat and finish over medium heat.  This is less complicated than it sounds.  You want to sear your steaks, relatively quickly, over high heat, to lock in the juices.  For my favorite 1 1/2"-thick T-Bone cooked on my favorite grill, I sear that steak for about 1 1/2-2 minutes per side (thinner steaks require less sear time), then I move it to a medium-heat part of the grill to finish grilling.  When I told you I cook that steak for 5-6 minutes per side, that includes searing time.  On a side note:  Always use tongs for turning and moving steaks... poking a steak with a fork allows the flavorful juices to flow out of the steak, defeating the purpose of searing! 

Tip #4:  Always allow for rest time:  residual/carryover heat will continue to cook a steak for 8-10 minutes after it has been removed from the grill.  I remove my steak when it is slightly undercooked to my liking, cover it with some foil, and let it rest for 8-10 minutes.  At that point, if it is still slightly undercooked put it back on the grill for another minute or so.  You can always cook a steak more, but once you've overcooked it there is no going back in time!

Tip #5:  Buy, beg, borrow or steal an instant-read meat thermometer and make it your best friend.  These gadgets are relatively inexpensive and in my opinion no kitchen should be without at least one.  Check the steak's temperature 2-3 times during the last 1-2 minutes of the estimated cooking time!

Happy grilling season, have a nice weekend everyone, and once again:  To leave a comment or ask a question, simply click on the blue title of any post, scroll to the end of it and type away!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipes, Commentary, Photos and Videos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2011)


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