Special thanks to Certified Angus Beef and Acme Fresh Market for getting me these gorgeous steaks.
“Because it’s there.” George Mallory, English mountaineer, when asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest.I saw the tomahawk ribeye chops at Allen Brothers Steaks in Chicago. One look, and I was done for. I had to grill it.
Luckily for me, one of the other people on the tour was Chef Michael Ollier, the corporate chef for Certified Angus Beef, located just down the road from me in Wooster, Ohio. (We had an easy connection, both being Ohio boys.) When summer came, I got in touch with Certified Angus Beef, asking them where I could find tomahawk steaks in the Akron area.
Certified Angus Beef sent an entire long bone rib roast to my local Acme grocery store, where James the butcher sliced me gorgeous 2 inch thick steaks.
Why two inches thick? Because that’s how thick the rib bones are.
Now, it may be called a tomahawk steak, but what they look like is a fireman’s axe. These were huge steaks, about 18 inches long. The length of the bone made them hard to work with - the two steaks took up half of my kettle grill, and every time I turned or flipped them I had to adjust, so the bone wasn’t hanging over the edge of the grill. If I was cooking for a crowd, and needed to fit more than two on the grill, I’d ask for the bone to be cut back, say to 12 inches long instead of the full 18 inches, to make them easier to fit on the grill. Or, I’d cheat and get a rib roast, and then ask for the bones to be Frenched so they stick out a bit. But, really, if you’re after the full tomahawk experience, you need the extra long bone.
I grilled the steaks using the reverse sear method - on the grill, but as far away from indirect high heat as the bones would allow until they reached an internal temperature of 115°F. Then they went directly over the coals for a quick sear to brown the surface of the meat. Then I got to gnaw on the bone...oh, my.
If you have to ask “why”, then you don’t want this steak. Go get some ribeyes. But, if you want to knock the socks off of a carnivore, this is the steak for you.
Recipe: Grilled Tomahawk Steak (Long Bone Ribeye, Reverse Seared)
I know how to make hot pepper infused tequila - why should I get all modernist and cook it sous vide?
Because, when I want spicy tequila, I want it as soon as possible. Regular infused tequila needs to steep overnight; by adding gentle heat, I can have spicy tequila ready in under an hour.
And, it’s easier to vary the amount of heat. I found 45 minutes at 135°F to be the perfect amount of time - it transfers the jalapeno taste and the right amount of spicy heat. If you want the jalapeno flavor with just a bit of heat, infuse the tequila for 30 minutes; if you want to blast your taste buds, infuse it for an hour, extracting all the heat from the peppers.
Most sous vide infusion recipes recommend pouring the alcohol into a gallon zip-top bag, but I found that unwieldy. And by “unwieldy”, I mean “I spilled tequila everywhere when the bag slipped.” A quart jar is much easier to deal with; it is the right size for a standard 750ml bottle of liquor.
Oh, and one other thing - what type of tequila? You want 100% agave, sliver or blanco tequila. If the label doesn’t say 100% agave, it can be up to 49% cheaper liquor - not good. Pay a few dollars extra for the 100% agave tequila. Don’t get “gold” tequila - it’s silver tequila with food coloring added to give it an amber color.
On the other end of the spectrum are reposado (rested) and anjeo (aged) tequila. They are aged in the barrel to add more complex flavors, and you pay more for the quality. Normally, aging is a good thing, but I find that the jalapeno infusion overwhelms the delicate aged flavors. I prefer the clean flavor of a silver tequila with the heat of the jalapeno.
Recipe: Sous Vide Jalapeno Infused Tequila
Cooking duck is a trade off. Duck breast is a tender red meat, and I want it cooked to a rosy pink medium. Duck legs are full of tough connective tissue, and should be cooked past well done, until they are tender and shreddable.
This is impossible on a whole duck. When I roast a duck, I aim to cook the legs and crisp up the skin, and live with overcooked breast. This results in a good duck - the duck fat keeps he duck breast moist, even if it is overcooked. But when I want duck perfection, I break the duck down and cook the legs separately from the breast. That lets me cook each properly - long, low and slow for the legs; a quick saute for the breast.
Can I use Sous Vide cooking to improve on perfection? Of course, or we wouldn’t be talking right now.
I start with the legs, cooking them confit style, with an overnight salting and ten hours in the water bath to tenderize. Then I drop the heat to a perfect medium, add the duck breasts, and cook them for two hours. (The legs stay in the water bath, keeping them warm while the breasts finish.) A quick sear in a hot pan gives me crackling duck skin.
And there you have it - perfect Sous Vide duck, two ways.
Though I have to confess, as much as I love duck breast, it pales in comparison to tender shreds of duck leg confit. If you skip the duck breast portion of the recipe and cook extra duck legs, I won’t blame you.
*Special thanks to Maple Leaf Farms for the wonderful duck!*