Southern Saturdays with Virginia: Simple, Satisfying, Steak
No, that’s not a steak, silly goose. That’s a cheddar biscuit.
WHOA! I was thrilled with last week’s response to Southern Saturdays with Virginia with Five Weekend Breakfast Recipes!
This week? I am ready for a steak.
Maybe it’s because I have been eating rabbit food. I’ve always been more on the full-figured side of life, but right now, there’s just a little too much of me to love. So, I’ve been really trying hard to cut back and exercise more.
I am also teaching at the Lake Austin Spa and Resort and The Golden Door for Culinary Week, as well as Rancho la Puerta in June. It’s my goal to show that Southern Food doesn’t have to be fatty, fat, fat.
The last thing I need to do is show up and not walk what I talk. I’m teaching Southern Comfort Spa Style — and you know what? I have to choose wisely, and it’s obviously not the fried fatback, but I am able to teach these classes without making any adjustments to the recipes. Serious.
But, a steak you ask? Well, part of it is choosing the right steak. I try whenever possible to choose grass-fed beef.
Will Harris III is a 5th generation cattleman. Will’s ancestor founded White Oak Pastures in the late 1800s after returning home from the Civil War. Will is straight out of central casting. Cue the cowboy. He’s tall and rugged with a rich, deep voice – and a legendary drawl that makes the ladies swoon. He is a Deep South cattleman from the top of his Stetson hat to the tip of his well-worn leather boots.
Until the years following WWII, the Harris family raised cattle as they always had, as free-range beef. The pastures and cattle were allowed to follow the natural cycle of the environment. After the war, “improvements” were made in production, pastures were fertilized for year-round green grass, herd size was increased, and antibiotics and hormones were developed to keep the animals healthy. It was science; it was progress.
Dispensing antibiotics to healthy animals has become routine on the large, concentrated farms that now dominate American agriculture. One side says one thing and the other side says another, but medical experts increasingly condemn the practice. They say it contributes to a growing problem in modern medicine, the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The grain-fed beef raised in this manner is the most widely produced type of beef in the United States. Grain-fed cattle spend most of their lives eating grass in pastures, and then move on to a feedlot where they eat an inexpensive, high-calorie grain diet for three to six months.
Will raised his cattle in pastures his family had been farming for decades, but then had to send them to the Midwest for corn-finishing in the lots where they could be fattened quickly. He grew to despise sending his cattle off in double-decker trucks on a journey that would take them across the country, without food and water for several days, the cattle on the upper level soiling the animals below.
Will says it just wasn’t right. He made a massive choice, a choice to buck the system and return to the methods his forebears used – traditional, sustainable, and humane. His beef now meets the Humane Farm Animal Care standards, which include “ a nutritious diet without antibiotics, or hormones, animals raised with shelter, resting areas, sufficient space and the ability to engage in natural behaviors.”
It’s good for the earth, good for the animal, and good for you. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Bon Appétit, Y’all!
Grilled Boneless Ribeye with Porcini Rosemary Rub
- 4 boneless ribeye steaks 1 1/2 inches thick
- 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 sprig rosemary finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Remove the steaks from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the porcini mushrooms and rosemary in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Puree until very finely ground. Transfer to a shallow plate.
Pat the steaks dry with paper towels. Season on both sides with salt and pepper. Place one side in the porcini mixture and press to coat.
Heat the oil a large cast iron skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add the steaks porcini-side down and sear on all sides until a rich brown crust forms, about 4 minutes per side, plus the edges. (You can use a raw potato to lean the steaks up against so they won’t topple in the skillet.) Remove to a warm plate to rest and let the juices redistribute. Serve.
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