Barbecue Journey with Dan ‘The Man’ — Skillet-Fried Top Sirloin
I remember Mrs. Cupps, my high school health education teacher, saying as she popped in a tape of a mother giving birth that decisions I made today would impact the rest of my life.
My 14-year-old brain didn’t believe her. The decisions I made included taking the scenic walk home so I could pass by the hot dog stand and pick up a chili cheese dog. Most times I did.
I suppose one of the first real decisions affecting the rest of my life was applying early admission to Ithaca College, which in turn led to the exact moment I became a lover of food.
Meals weren’t experiences growing up, they were necessities. They were generally consumed quickly before practice or a game or some event I had to attend. They were with friends at McDonald’s on the way to the lake. They were scarfed down during breaks on summer jobs. They were a way to kill time before a movie.
Even steaks weren’t treated with any grandiosity. Throw a slab of meat — usually thinly sliced — on the grill until it grayed. I didn’t know how to cook them and no one ever complained, despite their rubbery texture and having to chew a piece so much it resembled cud before a hard swallow forced it down.
I did not like steak. A1 Steak Sauce was used as freely as ketchup.
It was a late spring evening of my college junior year when I found myself on a date at The Boat Yard restaurant in Ithaca.
I had heard about its steaks, specifically its prime rib, before, but I didn’t believe a steak could be that good. The kind of good where you fall back into the booth and slowly slide under the table. Knee-weakeningly good.
My date ordered a crab cake or a lobster cake or something that required I sell stock in order to pay for the meal. I ordered the prime rib, king cut, medium rare. Twenty-two ounces of perfectly cooked flesh was about to come my way with a baked potato and asparagus side.
It came on a platter at least two feet in length.
It smelled even better than it looked. And as my knife glided through the tender meat and the au jus poured onto the plate, I felt I had made that life-altering decision Mrs. Cupps had foretold.
The meat didn’t need to be chewed, just savored. My date commented about the lack of conversation and audible moaning.
Steak is now an event. I clear my afternoon schedule in preparation and make sure the evening activities include only sweatpants and beer.
When Christmas 2012 came, and my uncle gave me the cookbook “Ribs, Chops, Steaks and Wings“, I knew at least once a month would be Steak Sunday. This Sunday was just such an event.
I chose as my first steak the “Skillet-fried Top Sirloin”. It was magnificent, particularly the au jus made by deglazing the skillet after cooking.
On a scale of 1-10, this was a 7. The steak, while cooked perfectly, absolutely needed the au jus. I tried a bite without it, and it wouldn’t have stood out on its own. Even Dr. BBQ, the author of the cookbook, admitted this was a simple recipe that produced a good steak. However, I don’t believe it will be the best steak recipe.
That said, I bought a 2-pound sirloin cut, and will be eating the same meal again tonight.
Here’s what you need:
The Steak Seasoning:
Garlic Powder (or granulated garlic)
1. Season the steak
Use the steak seasoning and season liberally about an hour before cooking.
2. Melt butter and vegetable oil
Melt a tablespoon of butter with a tablespoon of vegetable oil until hot in a skillet. Cook the steak to your preference. I like medium rare.
3. Cook your sides
I cooked some red skinned potatoes in a pan with olive oil. I also steamed some mixed vegetables.
4. Plate steak, deglaze
When the steak is done, plate it. Then, pour the fat and grease from the skillet. Pour some water into the skillet to deglaze, scraping the brown bits off the pan, and continue cooking until about a 1/4 cup of au jus remains.
5. Complete the meal
Plate the sides and pour the au jus over the steak.
6. Take a bite shot