As I settle into a routine here at Bachelor Central, I finally treated myself to the sort of caveman meal that my wife assumes I pretty much always eat when they’re away. It’s not true, of course; lately I’ve been eating bread and cheese and salads, with nibblings of chorizo thrown in for balance. But today saw a bunch of errands run, and a long-neglected repair project finally crossed off the list, so my reward was taking myself in to dinner for a thoroughly decadent treat.
This wouldn’t have happened except for the fact that I spent much of the afternoon prepping other culinary projects. So once I actually got hungry, I realized there wasn’t a plan. But I had a bag of black trumpet mushrooms in the fridge that a friend had foraged recently. Therein lay the spark: combined with a long-held memory of Aki and Alex’s black pepper purée (and a bottle of rosé pursuant to a much-needed shower) I obtained enough momentum to actually begin cooking dinner at 9:30 at night. Sometimes “Spanish cooking” can simply mean eating at 11. I looked it up.
So I let this local, grass-fed sirloin come up to room temperature while I prepared the whole motivating reason for the meal: compound butter. I put the black trumpets into the pressure cooker along with a few ice cubes of beef demi-glace and a handful of black peppercorns and let it hiss for about half an hour. As a reminder that your ears can be just as important as your eyes in the kitchen, I lunged at the stove and turned off the burner as soon as I heard that the sound had changed timbre to a thinner, drier hiss and thus avoided any burning (the timing was perfect; caramelization was ideal, but without any scorching). I cooled it under the tap, and added more water, soy sauce, fish sauce and red wine vinegar and put it back on the fire for an umamitudinous extravaganza.
After another 20 minutes or so, it was ready for the blender (the key is took cook the peppercorns until they’re soft enough to blend):
The smells at this stage did not suck.
I had put a stick of butter on the counter to soften while this was going on, and cut it into pieces since it wasn’t fully soft; the heat from the purée was perfect for softening it all the way without breaking.
I mashed it together with a fork for a minute, then switched to a whisk:
The steak got a sprinkling of salt and then a good hard sear with six flips in a fat pat of goat butter until nice and dark and crispy on the outside. I rested it on and under a plate while I swabbed a tangle of garlic scapes around the smoking skillet. I saved most of the pepper-mushroom purée for later, and most of the butter went in the fridge in another container, but I set aside some of the heavenly mixture and spatulated it into a small ring mold on a plate, then unmolded it and put it in the freezer to firm up.
After a ten minute rest, I slid the disc of marbled brown buttery goodness onto the Flintstonian slab of meat and let it get hot and lubricious, then added the scapes and spoons of the liquid that puddled, gleaming, on the resting plate. It’s safe to say that I haven’t wanted to have actual sex with a plate of food as much as this one in a long time. This butter is so unbelievably fabulous on a well-cooked steak that it defies description; rather than a single-channel stream of text, it would require a multi-channel audio recording of Homer Simpson’s bliss gargle, some Wagnerian horns, a Michael Bay explosion, and a seriously loud, enthusiastic, and prolonged orgasm to fully communicate how sensually complete and fulfilling this was to eat.
For wine, well, I had included a stop at the store on my list of errands, so there was much rosé to choose from. I opened a Rosé Cuvée by Hermann J. Weimer up in the Finger Lakes. Initially, I didn’t like it; it was top-heavy and bottom light. So I opened a Raffault Chinon (both were 2010) and immediately sighed “Now that’s a rosé.” After Provence, the Loire might be my second-favorite region for rosé. I decided to revisit the Weimer after a bit, though, and it had changed, but not for the better. It’s a blend of Cab Franc and Pinot Noir with some Chard thrown in as well, it seems. It’s got a tangy sourness that identifies it as a New York wine pretty quickly, but then there’s this kind of horrible hydrogen peroxide taste that happens (and I say this as someone who recently gargled copious peroxide to stave off a nasty sore throat). It’s not pleasant. Mercifully, it was the only local wine I stuck in my mixed case. The Raffault swooped back in to gracefully escort the rest of the steak to meet its destiny.