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Duke's Food Obsession

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Big steaks and big reds

A few years ago, a merry band of us got together bi-monthly to enjoy our fleeting summers with grilled steaks and red wine. As the leader of the band, I coined the nights “Big Steaks and Big Reds” to accurately pinpoint the level of decadent abandon that should be the order of the evening. You know, steaks as big as a small SUV, and wines that would blow your lips off with flavor. Now those mean spirited individuals who like to call themselves doctors say not to eat too much red meat. Ignore this type of propaganda and bring on the bovine. Or, do as I do and increase your Lipitor dosage. Figuring that there might be some more sturdy individuals out there, I offer my handy guide to a proper Big and Big evening.

Rule #1: Do not skimp on the steaks. At the minimum, you must buy choice or better. The cut is important, but not as vital as the quality. With considerable sweat on my part, to save you the trouble, I have sampled many steaks, and find that for the Big and Big night, you can’t go wrong with a rib eye. Or, perhaps a monster t-bone or porterhouse. My current favorite is the flat iron- big on beefy flavor, quite tender, and easy on your pocketbook. Do not consider the filet mignon as it is too mild for this event, and, well, a bit snooty. How you prepare your steaks is up to you, since this is my column, I will offer my favorite methods in order: charcoal grill, pan frying, gas grilling. Since this is all about the meat, side dishes come and go, but being summer can you go wrong with corn on the cob? You can grill this too, but since the corn we get up here is sometimes suspect, I prefer to boil it with honey added to the water to bump the sweet factor. Perhaps some root vegetables- turnips, potatoes, carrots and onions cut into big chunks, tossed in olive oil and kosher salt, roasted to release their natural sweetness, and finished with balsamic vinegar. A salad is nice too, but it competes with stomach space, so plan accordingly.

Rule #2: Do not skimp on the wine. If you are really considering becoming a member of the Big and Big club, you must toe the line. Since a discussion about red wine would fill many columns, I will only offer a personal opinion specific to this event. Many of you reading this are probably in the Cabernet Sauvignon camp. I am not. Sure, I like it, and it can be great, and the fat from the meat can tame the tannins, but to find a great one you most likely have to spend a lot or wait a long time and I am not that patient. No, for Big and Big nights, I have two favorite varietals: Big Zins, or Big Aussie Shiraz’s. You can find many great zinfandels, from the reasonable and reliable Ravenswood Zinfandel, or if you want to splurge, try the Ridge Lytton Springs. For the Shiraz, there are too many to list, but the Glaetzer Wallace is just dandy for the price, or the D’Arenberg Dead Arm is great in the upper price range. But, hands down, the best red I’ve had in recent memory is the Yalumba “Hand-Picked” Shiraz –Viognier blend. It will make you smile and kiss your loved one and giggle. This one I have seen at Yokes.

Rule# 3: Repeat as many times as your wallet or liver will allow


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Duke Diercks Duke Diercks is the owner of Duke’s Cowboy Grill in Ponderay. Visit his blog at www.bbq-recipes-for-foodies.com

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