Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Flight of Marinades

In my ongoing quest to be better, I hit on an idea I have been wanting to try. OK, here's the story. For Christmas each year, I send my sainted Mother a box of Omaha Steaks as a gift. She married my father's best friend a few years ago (it's a lovely story, not a vulgar one...Mom was a widow, Dad's best friend was a widower, and she is as happy as I can ever remember her). He moved her to Arizona. During one of my visits, she commented that she had trouble finding good meat... bing bang boom, each year they get a care package of meat. Anyone who has ever order's anything from Omaha Steaks knows, once you are on their list, you get a lot of sale fliers in the mail. Some of the sales are very good, since we have a brick and mortar storefront close; we usually have several boxes of goodies in the freezer. They come sealed, defrost very quickly in warm water and are just the thing in a pinch. Well, a couple nights ago, my wife phoned early in the day that we might be having guests over. I took 4 of the fillets out of the freezer to thaw. Unfortunately, a couple hours later, she called and our company was not going to materialise. With 4 thawed steaks, I had a couple choices... Invite someone else or run a food experiment. I chose to experiment.

I always seem to have several partially opened jars of sauces, mixers, flavorings, etc in the fridge. Ordinarily, I use one extra flavoring per night. I decided I was going to flavor each steak differently. A "FLIGHT" of marinades if you will. SO, here's where I started. I wrapped each of the fillets in bacon, put them in individual ziplock bags and started adding sauces. First up came from a large jar of BOSCOLI FAMILY ITALIAN OLIVE SALAD. I discovered this gem on a trip to New Orleans. Click their website link for a great recipe for a New Orleans style Muffuletta sandwich. Well worth the effort. This jar of leftovers was large and has been in my way for months. There was not enough left in the jar for two sandwiches, and I just did not have it in my heart to make a single sandwich and cheat my wife of this treat. So, I figured, Olive oil, spiced olives ... Maybe this would make a tasty marinade. I poured the remaining @1/2 cup into one of the bag'o'meat, rubbed it into the meat a little, and sealed the bag and put into the refrigerator.

Next I used one of my favorite new finds. This little bottle of flavor came from a sale rack at my grocery store. The bottle was still sealed, but the label and foil covering was slightly damaged. Bought my first bottle for a buck. I love a deal. ALLEGRO VINTAGE RASPBERRY CHIPOTLE MARINADE is now a staple in my pantry. I have used this several times. Best thing I made so far was a grilled meatloaf using this sauce. One day soon, I will post that recipe. Another very simple recipe to use this sauce is to brush a little on a pineapple slice as you grill it ... Incredible. But, back to the task at hand; repeat the process of pour @ 1/2 cup into another bag'o'meat, rub a little, seal and refrigerate.

Marinade #3 was a gift from a friend. She has enjoyed several evening of grilling or smoking. For Christmas last year, she passed on a jar of her childhood memories. She lovingly told me of her days in Texas and her sainted father rubbing his meat with Woody's Cook-in Sauce. Texas is the home of fabulous BBQ, and some of the best pitmasters on the planet. I am sure it is also the home of some terrific local sauces. Woody's however is based in Nevada. Nothing wrong with that. I wonder if I will ever crush her memories of this local Texas gem she mailed during her visit to the childhood home. But again, I am digressing. This is a concentrate sauce, and at some point, I will use the remaining sauce to create something unique. But for this experiment, I used another 1/2 cup into the bag, rub, seal and refrigerate.

Last up is another of my favorites. I discovered this gem when I took a cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking. If you ever get to New Orleans (an amazing bargain for foodies, some of the best cooking you will ever get at half the prices of NYC, Vegas, Paris and even Kansas City fancy restaurants), this cooking class is a must do activity. The staff teaches local history, makes you laugh, serves you lunch ... and along the way, you will learn how to cook several New Orleans dishes. I took 3 different cooking classes during my several trips to the Big easy. these guys were the best (although next trip, I am going to take the three day class held in one of the antebellum mansions in the bayou). But again, I am digressing. This sauce, Cajun Power Garlic Sauce was on the table ready to be poured on whatever you like. As advertised, heavy Cajun Garlic taste. It is perfect to spice up the Artichoke Soup and Jambalaya you learn to cook at the class. I also love this on a burger. I long ago used up the bottle I bought in 'Nawleans, and have taken advantage of the shipping services of their home page. I have never seen this on a shelf in Kansas city, so it takes a little effort to make sure a bottle is always in my pantry. But again, for the purpose of this blog, I repeated the process, and was ready for the flight of marinades tasting.

I refrigerated over night. I grilled each to about medium. I prefer medium rare, and my wife likes more well done, so I compromise. I am working on my finger push technique of telling how well done meat is, and I came very close with these. Basic steak cooking technique is to sear each side on a high heat or flame, then indirect cook for three minutes each side. Perfect steak each time.

Here's the results...

The Olive spread was a bust. Very little extra flavor was added. Some of the olives stayed on the meat, and crusted nicely. But most of the olives fell through the grates, as expected. The extra oil certainly made the meat tender, but as far as extra flavor ... almost none.

The Raspberry Chipotle sauce was a huge hit for me. It was my favorite of the 4. Lots of extra flavor, certainly unique. It does overpower the taste of the meat, but for something different, I loved it. There is equal sweet taste of the raspberry flavoring, but also the spicy flavor of the Chipotle peppers. It left a little spicy after taste that I enjoyed, but was just a bit too much for the Mrs.

Woody's added flavor, while letting the meat taste come through. Both of us liked this very much, with it being my wife's favorite. I would not hesitate to use this again for true meat lovers. Added flavor while letting the meat speak for itself.

Finally, the Cajun Garlic sauce was a very close second for my wife, and an even closer third for me. Woody's left a more traditional BBQ meat taste accent, while the Garlic sauce left a more specialized single accent. very garlicky. Very flavorful.

A fun experiment, I may try this sometime with a small dinner party. My neighbors and friends are getting used to my experiments.

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