Friday, April 17, 2009

How To Avoid Mixing Things Up On The Grill

Do you ever find yourself having to cook for people who have different preferences? You like your steak rare but Uncle Bob won’t eat it if it’s a shade pinker than medium. Little Johnny likes his chicken spicy but Susie can’t take the heat?

Well this clever lady, Leslie Haywood, was tired of mixing things up on the grill, decided to do something about it, and voila, she created Grill Charms (TM). I think of them as like wine charms but for steaks!

Each charm has a different design (my favorite is the martini glass whereas my husband prefers to be king for the day). As you can see here, you simply push them into whatever you’re planning to cook and then cook as you normally would.

Now, Beef Geek that I am, I had to come up with a new, clever way to use these. In this case, I took a large Sirloin steak from the freezer, thawed it in a cold water bath, and then cut it into two sections. I wanted to see if the two pieces would taste different from each other.

You’re asking, why would one section of the exact same steak taste different than the other?

One thing that contributes to flavor and texture is the amount of exercise any one muscle gets. If you look at this picture, you can clearly see a fat seam running along the top right quadrant of this steak. I wondered whether the piece above, which had a noticeably different grain, got more or less exercise than the section below. My hypothesis was that it was a section called the Sirloin "Cap."

Well isn’t that interesting, there was a subtle but noticeable difference. The flavor was the same but the piece from above the seam had a bit more flavor overall.

I asked one of my favorite artisan butchers, Tracy Smaciarz of Heritage Meats in Rochester, Washington, to explain why. He confirmed that this was the "cap" and that most restaurants and stores cut it off to make the steaks look tidier.

Well I for one won't be cutting that section off of the Sirloin steaks I eat.

ps Grill Charms come in sets of 6 and there are four versions including the Steak Collection, Pink Collection, Spicy Collection, and Charmed Life Collection. You can order them online or find them at select retail stores.

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