Gut Rumbles

June 06, 2006

speaking of taste

My mama was raised on a farm. I've noticed a common trait among ALL people who tended their own live animals for a while, then slaughtered and ate those critters. They like their meat cooked to a crisp.

We never had steak at home when I was growing up. We couldn't afford it, for one thing, but I'm kinda glad we ate simple foods the way we did. My mama was a wonderful cook, but she woulda fucked up a decent steak by burning the crap out of it when I was a boy.

HER idea of a well-cooked piece of meat was one that she either boiled into a tender mush (like chicken in dumplings) or blackened like asphalt and cooked as stiff as a roof shingle (like sausage).

When I moved out on my own and started cooking my own suppers, I became pretty good at it. I never mastered the art of making biscuits and gravy the way Mama did, but I made BETTER hamburgers and I could cook a damngood steak.

I decided to treat my parents to a culinary delight once, years ago, so I bought several rib-eye steaks, some salad fixings, a few BIG-assed Idaho potatoes and a fat loaf of garlic bread. I went back to the old homestead and starting preparing supper for me, my brother, his darlin' wife, Mom and Dad. I got really imaginative and brought some candles to light and place strategically on the kitchen table, to create a romantic ambiance.

When I started to cook the steaks, I asked everybody how they wanted theirs. "Medium rare" was the choice of everybody but Mama. "I want mine well-done," she said.

I looked at those beautiful, marbled rib-eyes. I thought about the obscenity of cooking one of those to "well-done" and I wanted to poke Mama in the eye with a long-handled grill-fork for asking me to commit that kind of sin. So, I cheated. I LIED to my mama.

I cooked all four steaks medium rare, but when I served them, I made a big deal out of telling Mama, "Okay. This one is YOURS--- well-done, just the way you like it."

I figured that I could get away with the hoax. That's one of the really good things about dining by candle light, besides the romantic ambiance. You can't see the food very well, either.

Mama tore into that steak and ate it as if she had been starving for a week--- she even made those contented, blow-through-your nose "Ummmm" noises while she chewed. When she was finished, she said, "Rob, I believe that you just cooked the best steak I ever tasted. You've gotta tell me what kind of spices you use."

When we cleared the dirty dishes from the table, Mama turned on the kitchen light and was shocked by what she saw. "ROB!!! There's BLOOD on my plate!!! YOU told me that my steak was well-done!!!"

I told her that her steak WAS well-done (technically... it WAS, because... I DONE IT and she liked it VERY WELL) and she probably mistook some spilled salad dressing or KETCHUP for blood on her plate. "Mama," I said, "Would I lie to you about something like THAT?"

She didn't answer that question, because she knew what I had done. But I changed her life that day. She never WOULD ask for a medium-rare steak after that. She just said, "Cook it like you did the last one I had. That was pretty good." Heh. Don't ask, don't tell wasn't invented by Bill Clinton.

Sometimes, you've just gotta do things like that... for somebody else's own good.


I did my steaks "well done" until I met my wife.
Then "blood" came into my life at mealtimes.
My experience was also from growing up on a farm.

All Mothers are very special, mine is.
They are allways on your'e side, no matter what.

Posted by: KeesKennis on June 6, 2006 03:50 PM

I have noticed that rule of raise meat/burn it to
eat it. Except there are some exceptions. My
great-uncles, cattle ranchers in the west ate
all beef rare, even hamburger. I am the same
and I hunt and kill all my own meat. If it is
good meat I say a big enough caliber is cooked
enough for me.

Posted by: clay on June 6, 2006 04:01 PM

Truly "for someone else's own good" (for a change).

Besides discipline or making you do your homework or medicine as a child or whatever, has anybody ever managed to do something for you "for your own good" that really WAS good for you?

Not as often as the other (wrong) way 'round, I'm sure, no matter how many times it may have actually happened...

And, for me as far as a steak... just scrape the hair off then run it through a warm room.
And, when it's done, don't forget the seasoned salt and Nature's Seasonings, thanks.

Posted by: Stevie on June 6, 2006 04:09 PM

Ditto to Stevie....I like mine not just cool in the middle, but COLD.

Posted by: Ruth on June 6, 2006 04:20 PM

Heh. Don't ask, don't tell wasn't invented by Bill Clinton.

That's some funny shit!

I don't like my steak bloody so I won't comment further...

Posted by: the other Steph on June 6, 2006 05:02 PM

My grandmother was raised on a farm and my mother used to say that Gramma was ahead of her time cooking all her meat "blackened".

Posted by: Missy on June 6, 2006 05:50 PM

I am going to eat steak at Stevie's from now on! My awful yankee of a husband wants his meat burnt to a crisp as well.

Me, I like mine COLD in the middle and grilled slightly. Just to make the outside meat a nice beige color. And yes, that Nature's Seasoning is a WONDERFUL seasoning! (I think it's just garlic, pepper, salt, and celery seed)

My dad brought us up on rare meat, (hamburger included) saying that the only reason to use A1 or Heinz57 on a steak was 1) they overcooked it and it's tough, or 2) it's a really bad peice of meat. I think those "sauces" came about from having to eat rancid meat and covering up the "foul taste"

Posted by: Steph on June 6, 2006 05:53 PM

Steph, don't go blaming "well done" on yankees -- that's a deep south sin I saw over and over in service to my country. Not to mention my Louisianian wife and her relatives. God!

Posted by: wil on June 6, 2006 07:06 PM

I like most cuts of meat done medium rare, but actually ribeye is the one exception for me. I grill mine to medium well. All that marbling then gets an extra chance to render and soak into the meat, carrying it's flavor with it. And even well done ribeye is hard to toughen up from overcooking like some cheapass top sirloin would.

Posted by: Desert Cat on June 6, 2006 07:23 PM

oh yeah, I slow grill those awesome dry rubbed ribeye cuts to medium (at the very max). Otherwise, That's just a way to ruin a beautiful cut of meat with too much heat and too fast. I've been told the same thing you were by your mama many times..."that's the best steak I've ever had. "

I'm not changing my ways, and I'm a damned Yankee. And Ribeyes rule in my steakworld...where nobody ever ever asks for the A1 sauce.

Posted by: marcl on June 6, 2006 07:46 PM

NEVER use garlic salt for anything!!!! My gawd iffin ya want salt add it afterward!

ALWAYS use a Jaccard on your meats! (old resturanters seceret I tell ya)!

Spicing, Variety is the spice of life, and sometimes life provides enough without additives. But normal is either a rub, or a marinate of some creation for the evening. Don't have many repeatable, and we liike it that way too.

M/R is the goal, all too often on her POS grill I manage to mess it up and end up overcooking! Gatta bring my gril over here and that's that!

First time I cooked steak for her, she asked for well. I paused and told her that such was impossible off of my grill! It did hit the medium ground for her though, she has gotten much better now.

Posted by: TC on June 6, 2006 10:47 PM

Mmm, steak... Mmmm ribeyes... Mmm... Pardon, what was the question??

Posted by: G on June 6, 2006 10:50 PM

Reminds me of the time my daddy tried to trick me by feeding me deer meat (which I thought was icky). He thought for sure that I wouldn't know. I did and I called him on it. :) Great stories about your family.

Posted by: Lisa on June 9, 2006 07:43 PM
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