now THIS is good steak (long, rambling thoughts)
I don't know how many here watch "King of the Hill", which is an "adult animated situation commedy." Probably not a lot, so in brief, it's centered around the family and friends of a propane salesman in fictional Arlen, TX, and a recurring theme is his passion for propane.
Last night I caught a rerun where Hank Hill's wife Peggy and son Bobby had the best burgers they've ever had, and it turned out they were sacrilegiously cooked on a charcoal grill.
Kind of got me thinking about a current thread over on eGullet where a poster is seeking advice on how/when to add liquid smoke to sous vide burgers. If I were a member there I'd be tempted to post, "How about grill it over wood or coals?"
Earlier this summer my sister hosted a gathering of cousins at her summer house. I brought a couple of sirloins but didn't feel like taking responsibility so I lit the grill and tossed the steaks to my cousin's girlfriend and put her in charge. There was a lot of other food including clams, lobster, many sides, but what got the most comments was the perfectly cooked steak. Which made me a bit jealous, as I've been toying with various temp/time/searing techniques with sous vide, which is supposed to turn out foolproof steak. Yet it eludes me.
Don't get me wrong - There are several applications where I think sous vide works amazingly well. Thick pork chops. Lobster. Short ribs. Etc. But to cook a "good" steak like, say, NY Strip? One thing I found, decisively for my taste, is that you can't let the thing sit in a water bath for long. An hour, maybe two, but after that you've killed it. After that revelation I've had much better success. But not perfect.
With none of the above in mind, this evening I picked up a couple of boneless strip steaks, and not having time to fuss with sous vide I decided to take my chances and just throw the things on the grill. Three or four minutes each side. The flood lights on the deck were out, so it was entirely in the dark. Brought them to an equally dark table, cut up slices and served the family.
Tired of getting bit up by mosquitos, we transfered the meal inside. As we restarted eating my wife said, "I don't know what you did different tonight, but THIS is a good steak." I took my first real glance at the steak.
It occurred to me that it was the first time in a long time I've cooked a steak outside of a plastic bag in a hot water bath.
Pardon the picture. It's the last bit of the last piece of steak, just before my son scarfed it down. It's a thinner end piece, but the "offensive band of overcooked meat" was the same throughout the steaks, as was the medium rare doneness of the bulk.
If this wasn't good, then I guess I don't appreciate good steak, and will blissfully live in ignorance.