Gordon Ramsay Is That You?
What is the last thing that I remember having to learn? A guy who has lived for sixteen years has plenty of memories. That’s an easy question. Wait, is it? Now that is something I had to deeply think about. My head raced through all the recent memories. I couldn’t remember one. My head was swimming and it was running and then, ding! I remembered. Warmth, flames, tongs, seasoning, I grasped that thought. That dear thought was cooking a steak, with my dad.
“Mateo! Mateo come downstairs to the kitchen!” my dad yelled from the top of the stairs. “It’s urgent!” I raced out of my room, sprinted down the stairs, and asked my dad, “What’s going on?”
“Son, I have some news for you. I have been thinking lately, and I think it’s time you learned.” my dad announced.
“What news? Am I in trouble?” my voice trembled. What is so urgent that my dad had to talk to me? I don’t understand. I am pretty sure we already have a good relationship. Last week we went to the movies together with the rest of the family. What could possibly be so important? Unless, it was something I did? Was I in trouble? My heart was racing and my forehead starting sweating. What was it dad? WHAT WAS IT?
“I think it’s time you learned how to cook a steak. But not just any steak, the best steak in the world; just like the pro chefs,” said my dad with a smile that resembled that one cool guy you see in movies. My mind exploded. WHAT? All that just to cook a steak? “Yeah sure! Let’s do it.”
And with that, my dad began. He started off by explaining where to cook the steak. “Always use a grill or a cast iron skillet. Nothing else! Only a steak or a grill. Because the grill adds a charred flavor which is so tasty. The cast iron pan gives off good heat to cook the steak perfectly and it lets all the juices stay inside. So remember a grill or a-”
“Cast iron skillet. I got it,” I said.
He smiled with satisfaction. “See your learning quick! Now after you selected how you want to cook your steak, you pick what steak you want to eat. There are so many choices. It also depends how you cook the steak. The steaks with marbling, (which is a fancy word for fat inside the beef), are best cooked inside the skillet. The skillet is able to crisp up the marbling in the steaks nicely, and it will also catch the juices that fall come from the steak much more easily than the grill. Steaks like New York Strip, T-bone, or tri-tip have lots of marbling, thus, for the best results, cook those in the skillet. Cuts like fillet or rump, since they do not have that much marbling, would be grilled. You may ask why that is so, well it is because it has no marbling or barely any at all. Make sense?” He showed me the different cuts of beef.
“Yeah,” I paused. How could anyone know so much about steaks? Marbling is what? What is the difference between the cuts? Why do you cook certain steaks on a pan and not with a grill? Too many questions were swimming in my head. How is this beneficial to me?
“Now that you have mastered the art of the cuts, it is time to learn how to give the most out of your steak.”
Wait what art?
“Four ingredients for the seasoning is all you need. Just four simple ingredients. The ingredients are salt, pepper, butter, and oil. The most delicious steaks do not come from masking the flavors of the beef with all this and a bit of that. The seasoning is there to lift the flavor of the beef. Sure you can add garlic and thyme and what not, but that just takes away the entire beef flavor,” my dad explained. There was so much information about beef. It was like I was in college getting a degree in steak cooking. The lecture went on. Do chefs really go through all of this to cook a steak? My dad continued, “You always add the oil first, then the salt, next is pepper, then when the steak is cooking, you add butter. The butter gives the steak a crispy crust and a nutty taste. Never ever forget the butter. It gives the steak a completely new flavor. Okay son, now we are ready to cook!” He led me outside to the grill. So that must mean we are cooking a steak that doesn’t have marbling. Whoa, how did I remember that?
“You want a hot grill, a very hot grill. This allows the steak to sear on the outside and slowly cook on the inside. Sear is just a fancy name for burning up or crisping up something in culinary terms. See how the thermometer reads 600° Fahrenheit? That’s the temperature we want. Grab a steak like this from the tip and lay it down on the grill away from you. Always away from you, so that you don’t burn your hand,” said my dad. Great! I can injure myself while cooking a steak. “And if you don’t hear the snakes hissing, you are doing it wrong,” my dad whispered.
Did he say snakes? Why would I want to hear snakes hissing? I am pretty sure you do not hear snakes when cooking a steak. “Did you say snakes?”
My dad roared with laughter. I laughed a little too, but I was more petrified than feeling humorous. He placed his hand on my shoulder, “What do you think?” Then I heard the noise. TSSSSSSS. I eagerly watched my dad place another steak on the grill. Flames rose from underneath the steak. Oh! Those sounds come from the heat of the grill. Those are the snakes!
“You always want flames when you flip. The flames mean flavor. The hotter and larger the flames, the juicer your steak. For a medium rare steak, which is my favorite, you want to cook each side for about three minutes,” explained my father. Then he flipped the steak and the snakes began to hiss again. The crackling of the flames caramelized the butter and seasoning roared in the grill. “Now after all I had just taught you, I want you to try everything for yourself.”
And I did. I took a piece of rump fillet, I seasoned it. I placed it on the grill. I watched it cook for 3 minutes, and then I flipped. Flames rose. Flames fell. I took the steak off and let it rest on a platter. I had done what had seemed to be a difficult task. Who knew that something so simple could be so complex? The steaks were. After it rested, the steak was a diamond. It was glossy and shiny. The aroma of grilled salt, charred pepper, and hot butter burst through the clean air. Everything about it was amazing. I was in awe. I snatched a knife and sliced it down the middle. As I did, red juice fell from the steak and dripped all over the cutting board. As I separated my halves, I saw that the steak was a hot pink from top to bottom in the inside of the steak. I had done it.
“There you go. You learned how to cook a steak just like me. Welcome the culinary part of the family,” said my dad with a beaming smile, “I am proud of you.”
And with those words, a warm rush of blood washed all over my body. My dad taught me something I possibly could not figure how to do it on my own. I call that experience a father and son bonding moment. My dad was proud. I was proud. Who would’ve known that a steak could bring two people together?