Caveman steak a big hit for dad's day

TERESA FARNEY Updated: June 16, 2009 at 12:00 am • Published: June 16, 2009

Men adore meat. Especially a juicy steak. So this Father's Day give Dad an eye-popping Caveman steak.

Caveman steak is the latest grilling trend making the rounds. You actually throw the meat on the glowing hot embers - well, like cavemen did eons ago.

"I told you it's going to be primal," said Steven Raichlen at the first session of his three-day Barbecue University held at the Broadmoor last week. He was reviewing his recipe for Caveman T-Bones with Hellfire Hot Sauce. "Do this recipe at your next party and eyes will pop! Mouths will drop!"

Before taking the class at the Broadmoor, we talked to Raichlen about his Caveman steak inspiration.

"A few years ago, I visited a cave with prehistoric paintings in the Dordogne in Southwest France," he said. "On display was a hearth used by our ancestors about 20,000 years ago. In it archeologists found the carbonized remains of crab apples, peas, and acorns. In other words, even back then, grill masters were roasting foods in the embers. A short drive away was a theme park devoted to the daily lives of Neanderthals living in the region and one display showed people cooking meat over a fire."

Caveman steak is an amazing thing. Basically you build a charcoal fire and let it burn down to coals. When it's honkin' hot, you lay a steak directly on the coals. No kidding. It's a delicious way to get an almost restaurant-style steak. The exterior of the steak will be crusty and charred and the interior will have a great smoky flavor.

Kathy Bousquet, who with her husband, Ed, owns Barbeque Mercantile in Old Colorado City, took Raichlen's recipe on a grill test.
"Ed seasoned the steak generously with freshly ground black pepper and ground sea salt," she e-mailed. "It was a 1 inch thick T-bone purchased at Safeway. He placed the steak directly on the coals and cooked it 5 minutes on each side, with the grill lid down. When he removed the steak, there was no ash and few embers to deal with. I must say, I was inside preparing the Hell Fire Hot Sauce and within 3 minutes of the steak being on the fire, he told me I had to come outside ... the steak smelled wonderful! It was much more aromatic than just cooking steaks on the grill grate. When the steak was done, we lightly tented it with foil to let it rest."
Some may wince at the thought of putting food - especially meat - directly on charcoal. But Raichlen says, "Fear not. When the steaks come off the coals, you brush them off with a pastry brush to remove any loose ash," he says.

Another secret is to use natural lump charcoal, not briquets, especially at our altitude. Hardwood charcoal burns hotter and gives better results.

Another Raichlen tip: "You need a thick steak, at least 1 1/4 inches thick."

Bottom line?

"The steak was over the top!" Kathy e-mailed. "It was perfect medium rare. What a great way to impress dinner guests. We were still talking about it this morning when we got up. I expect that this will become the standard way for us to prepare steak."

At the class Raichlen added, "You haven't seen the coolest part yet," as he was finishing up cooking the steaks."I'm going to make the Hellfire Hot Sauce in the coals, too," he said, nesting a cast iron skillet into the hot embers.

It was a beautiful presentation that tasted sensational.

• • •

CAVEMAN T-BONES WITH HELLFIRE HOT SAUCE
-
Yield: 4 servings

4 (10- to 12-ounce) T-bones, cut about 1-inch thick
Coarse salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced crosswise
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Procedure:
1.
To grill steaks, build a charcoal fire and rake coals into an even layer. When coals glow orange, fan with a newspaper to blow off any loose ash.
2. Generously season steaks on both sides with salt and pepper. Place steaks directly on embers about 2 inches apart. Grill until cooked to taste, 4-6 minutes per side for medium-rare, turning with long tongs.
3. Using tongs, lift steaks out of fire, shaking to dislodge any embers. Using a basting brush, brush off any loose ash and arrange steaks on a platter. Let steaks rest loosely tented with aluminum foil.
4. To make sauce, heat olive oil in cast-iron skillet directly on embers, on side burner of gas grill or on stove. When oil is very hot, add jalapeños, garlic and cilantro. Cook over high heat until sauce is aromatic and garlic is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Immediately pour sauce over steaks; serve at once.

Source: Steven Raichlen

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