Friday, April 10, 2015

Steak and Thomas Keller Inspired Meals

I had an urge of inspiration lately and wanted to cook some ambitious meals. I recently had some good news about my career and wanted to celebrate so I thought a nice steak would be fitting.

The first meal I cooked was centered around a ribeye I got from a local butcher, Cooper Bros. This is a local butcher that was founded about a year ago in Lexington, KY. The ribeye I got was $23.99/lb which is pricey but it's locally sourced and is supposed to be really good. I talked to the butcher and he suggested that next time I should look into getting "chuck steak" which is similar to ribeye but a much cheaper cut.

I also had some Ricotta and Parmesean which I got to make some gnudi but it turned into a huge mushy mess much to my chagrin. I don't have any good pictures of the mess but when I cooked the gnudi in water it pretty much disintegrated. I tried making it again a few days later after putting the leftover uncooked gnudi in the freezer and just sautéing it in some butter and not bothering with boiling it in water. It turned out much better this way with the outside being slightly brown while the inside was nice and soft and oh so cheesy.

Here's the ribeye. You can see the really nice marbling throughout.

I wanted to make this in a way to highlight the natural flavor so I used just kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. I seasoned it about 2 hours before I cooked it after having it sit out for about 2 hours to help temper it.

I cooked this on a gas grill which was at a temperature of about 350F inside. I checked the internal temperature of the steak, turned it twice, and took it off the grill when it hit an internal temperature of 130F. I then let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing it.

I made some sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts as sides. The ribeye was sliced against the grain which makes it taste much more tender:

I also made some Béarnaise sauce since I've read that it's the only fitting sauce for a nice steak. I haven't made many sauces and not even Hollandaise so this was a challenge for me. It turned out alright but after I took it off the burner for about 10 minutes (so I could plate and get ready to take pictures) it separated which stressed me out a lot. I was seriously about to just throw the sauce out and just throw my hands in the air in frustration. Then I found this video (the video is for Hollandaise but it applies to Béarnaise since Béarnaise is directly related to the mother sauce of Hollandaise) and managed to rescue the sauce.

Here it is paired with a nice Old Fashioned made with Four Roses Yellow Label. I forgot to buy oranges so there's no orange peel as a garnish. I'm quite happy with the photography of this meal.

The next night I based the meal around Thomas Keller recipes. I started off with something I've been wanting to make for a few years: Ratatouille. Technically it's called Confit Byaldi but the version that a lot of people are familiar with is the version you see in Pixar's Ratatouille. Well, what actually happened is that Brad Bird had Thomas Keller as a consultant for the film and asked him to make a version of the French dish Ratatouille that would look more stunning on screen. Confit byaldi was first documented by Michel Guérard but modified by Thomas Keller in his 1999 cookbook, The French Laundry Cookbook.

I followed this recipe. Here's a picture of me slicing the Asian eggplant with my Chinese cleaver. If I were to make this again I'd probably invest in a mandolin slicer. I'm also planning on getting a good knife soon as the Chinese cleaver isn't as precise as I'd like.

The piperade:

Before going in the oven:

Fresh out of the oven:

Here's my plating of the confit byaldi with the vinagrette. I'm just recently getting into elevating my plating and I think it's an OK attempt but could use a bit more work.

Slightly more "artsy" picture:

I also did a roasted chicken which is one of the things Thomas Keller is known for.

Roasted chicken and confit byaldi: