Submitted by Vanessa Gillard
The Father’s Day draw at the Inglewood location will see one lucky person win the Barbeque Season Gift Set on June 14, which includes Sharples Ranch Smoky Barbeque Rub, St-Laurent Steak Spice, Driftwood Texas Bar-B-Que Rub and Barbeque Belt Chicken and Rib Rub.
Whether they are handymen, car guys, outdoorsmen, jocks, chefs or something in between all the stereotypes, dads are hard to shop for. They seem to have everything they need, and if they don’t, they’ll just go out and get it themselves in the most efficient manner possible. But what father doesn’t like to fire up the grill and sear those artfully cross-hatched lines into a big piece of meat?
Well, perhaps focusing on the meal for Father’s Day is a good place to start. The Silk Road has a plethora of rubs and marinade blends, as well as our Barbeque Season Gift Set, which is perfect for carnivorous fathers and anyone else who’s getting out the old charcoal and lighter fluid. Unlike at Mother’s Day, Father’s Day brunch just doesn’t seem…well suited. How about tailor-made steak and eggs in bed, or a nice tenderloin on the barbeque for dinner? In Alberta, a good cut of beef is almost always a welcome surprise, and giving dad the day off the grill might be a nice treat too. That is, if he’ll let you. I had a friend whose dad called his grill “flavour country,” and if you went near it, that was an open declaration of war. Incidentally, he kinda resembled the Marlborough Man.
All unfortunate allusions to tacky billboards aside, cooking a good steak isn’t as simple as one might think. This is perhaps why so many men take such pride in their grills, gizmos and associated skills. There are things like grade, cut, seasoning and cooking technique to consider. Here’s a quick rundown on steak and how you can best satisfy your dad, husband, gramps or dude on this, the day for dudes.
There are 13 grades of beef in Canada but for our purposes you only need to know the first four, unless you’re making food for a dog dad. A, AA, and AAA and Prime are the highest grades of beef, according to Canada Beef Inc., the very best being “A”. A-grade cuts don’t show up on the butcher’s table or vac-packed in grocery coolers often: it usually gets exported or sold to restaurants. The determining factors are generally age of the animal and the amount of marbling in the meat itself.
Marbling refers to the amount of fat and connective tissue in the cut, and at its best, a cut of beef should look like a red piece of marble with off-white veins in it. A strip loin, which has almost no marbling, will be tender but have little flavour because it has little marbling, whereas a grilling steak like a top sirloin will be a little less tender but have far more flavour due to copious marbling. The best way to check for freshness is to check when the meat was packed. There are a number of factors that can lead to beef being very red in colour that don’t necessarily indicate freshness. Choose a cut that reflects your meal plan and budget, as steaks can get pretty pricey.
Regardless of the cut or grade, you can produce a great steak with a little preparation and know-how. Firstly, tenderize your steak with the appropriate method depending on what cut you’re working with. For a higher grade steak, tenderizing gently with fingers, the bottom of a jar, or meat tenderizer is essential because of the amount of connective tissue. But go easy – it won’t take much. If you over-tenderize, it can crush the flesh and result in a less-than-ideal texture. For a lesser grade cut, poking it with a fork thoroughly may be adequate prep because the tenderness is already there.
That being said, lesser cuts do well with a marinade instead of a rub or sauce because they tend to be less flavourful and the marinade will infuse its flavour. A marinade is a simple balance between an acid (like citrus, vinegar or alcohol), oil and spices. It’s simple to make, best made fresh and often keeps for a while. Use a sealable bag or flat dish with plastic wrap over top. The acids tenderize the meat, so use your judgement as to how long your cut should sit. It depends on size and grade. Also, for safety reasons, never reuse marinades. Rubs are great for better cuts that you can’t wait to throw on the grill. Just tenderize, rub and grill. Rubs are even easier than marinades; they are simply blends of spices with salt and sometimes sugar. Of course The Silk Road has plenty of rubs to choose from. Try our St-Laurent Steak Spice, Old Chicago Steak Spice or Sharples Ranch Smoky Barbeque Rub at your next steak cookout.
As for cooking times, a simple technique to figure out your steak’s doneness is the finger test. There’s a little more to it than just poking it with your finger, though not much. Open and relax your hand and poke the fleshy part under your thumb. This how a blue-rare steak will feel when you poke it. If you gently put your index finger and thumb together and touch that same fleshy part of your hand, it feels like rare. Do the same with your middle finger and it feels like medium-rare; ring finger is medium and pinky is well-done. You always thought dad was doing some kinda meat math, right? Now you know the secret. You didn’t hear it from me.
Come in to The Silk Road in Inglewood this week and enter our Father’s Day draw. For every $20 spent you will receive and ballot to win a Barbeque Season Gift Set on June 14 – perfect for dad. Or if you win, you can just keep it for yourself. We won’t tell. Happy Father’s Day!