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RBR Tailgating: Pieces of Cow

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Because there is more to beef than steaks and burgers.

There's no immediate occasion for a football tailgate, but we are fast approaching the days when there will be. I thought I'd take this space today to introduce myself and the column to anyone who is new to the site since the end of last year's uproariously successful campaign.

RBR Tailgating is just what it sounds like: a recipe post shoehorned into a sports blog. Maybe "shoehorned" isn't the best word. I do generally make sports related points, tie the meal to an opponent via some theme or another, or inflame rivalrous passions. I'm not going to do any of that today because there's no game quite yet but the point is to give readers ideas to make an already fun time even better.

It's not a hard and fast rule, but for home games I usually post recipes that can be cooked with nothing more than a grill, a cooler, and a spatula or maybe a pair of tongs. Sometimes there might be some night before prep work, but I want to put forth something than can be cooked by the quad or in the parking lot with as little fuss as possible.

For away games, since more people stay home, I assume that you have the power of a fully operational kitchen and can blend, bake, broil, and boil. The recipes will take advantage of these expanded capabilities so there may be more mess to clean up.

I tend to skew Mediterranean, but I'm aware of my proclivities and do my best to mix things up.

Thanks for reading. I hope you like it.

I'm of the opinion that autoerotic asphyxiation must be one of the most amazing experiences available to mankind. I've no experience with it myself. Too dangerous. No one should ever do it. Seriously.

According to a web site I had never seen until a few hours ago (it looked pretty official though), up to one thousand people die every year from this practice in the United States alone. It's not that these people who passed on didn't know the dangers. The goal of the whole enterprise is to come as close as possible to suffocating and then not. Aside from a few teenagers enthralled by the sense of immortality that comes with that age, most of us intuitively know that's not the best idea. And yet people do it anyway. Allegedly, both Kung Fu's David Carradine and INXS front man Michael Hutchence met their end in pursuit of this thrill.

With the risk side of the ledger that weighted, you have to wonder what is on the reward side to keep the practice going. I feel the same way about heroin. Base jumping and parachuting come to mind as well. I'll never do any of these things, but I have to wonder at the pull that causes others to roll the dice. It has to be pretty impressive.

But what if you took the "auto" out of autoerotic asphyxiation? What if there was someone there to keep an eye on you in case you actually passed out? What if your partner was a doctor? Or even a paramedic?

The answer for me is still no, but I recognize that the math has changed.

Same thing for the other behaviors I mentioned. Would you shoot heroin in a clinical setting? Would you tandem jump with a Green Beret? I say no thank you, but I see that the risks have been tempered. (There is no way I can think of to make base jumping even slightly safer. Only crazy people do that.)

I bring this subject up because in one of the recipes below, I'm going to suggest that you eat raw meat.

Not everyone is going to be excited by the prospect of eating a possibly e-coli transporting, tapeworm infested, abdominal-cramp inducing bit of protein that can easily be made harmless(ish) with the application of fire. I don't blame you. Ingesting raw beef can kill you. From what I've read that's not terribly likely unless you are very young or very old, but it's definitely a possibility. If you aren't careful, getting sick is just part of the experience.

But there are steps that can be taken to mitigate those risks. And the rewards? I can speak at length about the reward side of the raw beef ledger. Silky texture, sweeter than if cooked, and iron-rich (that's fancy waiter talk for bloody tasting).

I fully understand that many of you won't try the following recipe no matter how carefully prepared. As I said, I won't take heroin, etc., even in optimal circumstances. But if you're on the fence, trust me when I say that this recipe is worth taking a chance for. It's my autoerotic asphyxiation.

Beef Carpaccio with Horseradish Cream Sauce

1 8 oz. Beef Filet

Equal parts Water, Dry White Wine, and White Wine Vinegar

Juice of 2 Lemons

Freshly grated Horseradish

Sour Cream

Arugula

Parmesan Cheese

Salt

Cracked Black Pepper

Tabasco Sauce (Optional)

This article from Esquire about choosing meats to serve uncooked is not exactly a scientific treatise, but it is full of common sense advice. To me the most important bits to heed are the ones about choosing the right butcher. Make sure the place does decent business and don't choose an esoteric cut of meat. Basically do all you can to make sure that the cut you buy hasn't been sitting around all week waiting on a buyer. I use filet mignon, but I read that Frank Stitt uses eye of round at his award winning restaurants, so ask the butcher what he thinks is best for what you are doing.

I've known people to trim the exterior of whatever meat they are planning using right before serving. That makes sense. Most of the bacteria et al.is found on exposed flesh. Removing that layer seems a wise precaution. I didn't, but my claims to wisdom are tenuous and unlikely to impress the bulk of you.

Generously season the meat with salt and pepper. I was loose about quantities above because they are going to be dictated by the size of the dish you now place the seasoned beef in. You want one big enough that the meat can be completely submerged in liquid, but not so big that you waste a lot of vinegar and wine, which should be used with water in equal parts to cover. Finally, add the juice of one lemon, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate.

At this point you are watching the salt and pepper float away from the meat and wondering "Why the hell did I just generously season this filet with salt and pepper just to have it basically washed off by the marinade?" The short answer is "Just be quiet and follow directions." But the long answer involves the fact that the salt and pepper are still adding flavor by being in the marinade and some is probably still on the meat itself and drones on for a bit about how salt interacts with vinegar. It's probably best that you just be quiet and follow direction.

Marinating Carpaccio

A quick note about the vinegar and wine: some of you may be thinking that I'm soaking the meat in acids because like seafood in a ceviche acids denature, or chemically cook, the outside. Nope. From what I've read the chemical cooking process doesn't work half as well on beef as it does on fish (and it doesn't work half as well on seafood as you might have been told.) I'm adding wine and vinegar for flavor. Still dangerous.

Let it marinade in the fridge for at least twelve but no more than twenty four hours. Next, pat dry and put it in the freezer for thirty minutes just to firm up the meat and make it easier to slice. Cut it thinly, put under a piece of cling wrap and smash to within an inch of its life.

Smashing Carpaccio

In a bowl, mix the sour cream, horseradish, a little lemon juice, and Tabasco if you want and season with salt. Again, quantities are not absolute so I didn't set them. If you like a lot of horseradish, have at it. If not, don't.

Building Carpaccio

Spread the sauce on a plate and cover with one layer of meat. Top with Arugula tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Add a few shavings of Parmesan and a couple of grindings of black pepper and you have carpaccio done right.

Carpaccio Plated

The next recipe is cooked, but easier than the first.

Marrow Toast

2 Decent sized Soup Bones

Handful fresh Flat Leaf Parsley

Grated Parmesan Cheese

Baguette or French Bread

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt

Marrow Raw

Ask your butcher to slice the bones lengthwise as shown.

Bake for fifteen to twenty minutes at 400˚ and let cool for five minutes or so. Scoop the marrow into a bowl and mix with parsley and Parmesan, season with salt and smear onto sliced bread that's been toasted and brushed with olive oil.

Marrow Final

I like to serve it with a variety of bruschetta. It's ridiculously good.

So there's a pre-tailgate tailgate recipe. I hope you try it and even more, I hope you enjoy it. Football is almost here. Hang in there.