One of my favorites meals as a child was the Smurf Sandwich. I guess I have always empathized with Gargamel and his mangy cat Azreal, even in the tender toddler years. I hadn’t thought about it in years, but my daughter has developed a fascination with these little figurines, and thus it came back to me in a flood of nostalgia. The 80’s were something else, despite the hair bands. Even though I basically can’t stand the Smurfs TV show any more, there’s just something about these blue little guys that brings up all kinds of warm feelings. So, I thought I’d go ahead and fix myself a Smurf Sandwich for old-times sake.
The above photo is a cross-section of Brainy Smurf’s right thigh (a very satisfying smurf!) Smurfs are magical creatures so their meat is laced with all of this preternatural marbleization, but they are also forest dwellers, and lean, so they are kind of gamey. The likelihood of capturing enough of them to make a luxurious stew or braise being pretty slim, it proves necessary to create a spread from the meat of as many Smurfs as you are able to get your hands on. The Smurfs need to cook long and slow in order to adequately tenderize the meat. Cooking them with some aromatics, such as their mushroom houses (yes! cook them with their homes) is recommended. The distinct flavor of the Smurf pairs well with peanut butter. It’s really strong, in the same way a truffle is–it’s almost overwhelming. The way we would do it when I was a kid was to really break the meat up into almost a paste really, and then whip it into some fluff. Then, you would just make yourself a Fluffernutter with the essence of Smurf up in it. If you are in the mood for something a bit more toothsome, and have a few Smurfs to spare, then go ahead and throw a few on whole.
We almost picked up a pizza for dinner last night, but at the last minute decided to buy a premium 28 day dry-aged rib-eye instead. Needless to say, this is one of the better things that life has on offer, at least in terms of food. We don’t eat red meat very often in our house, and it is even less often that we splurge on insanely expensive cuts like this one. We usually buy bavette or one of the other miscellaneous ‘flap’ meats. Fortunately, we were parked right outside a specialty market, so we didn’t have time to reconsider.
I’ve taken this post as an opportunity to jump right into doing some of these sort-of augmentation design pieces I alluded to in my previous post. There isn’t much to work with around here, but I made due with a section of the Sunday NYTimes, and paper shopping bag. I like the first, the second was is just OK to me, and the third one is really just a cop-out I did real quick just to wrap it up. I have to spend some time playing with my baby today, after all!
This is billed as a Momofuku recipe, but the reality is that this is just the way it is done, at least on the stove. Grilling is a whole different story. The ribeye featured in this post is half the size of the one the recipe calls for.
Instructions for Cooking a Ribeye per David Chang of Momofuku
2 to 2.5 pound bone-in rib-eye steak, preferably dry-aged
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp unsalted butter
Few sprigs of thyme
3 garlic cloves
1 medium or 2 small shallots
Maldon salt or use any large grain sea salt you have.
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F
2. Heat a medium to large (10-12 inch) cast-iron pan over high heat.
3. While the pan is heating, season both sides of the steak liberally with Kosher salt. I would say more like how you’d sprinkle a bed with rose petals, rather than how you’d salt a sidewalk in New York in the winter. Then season with pepper.
4. When the pan is ready (really, really hot), place one side of the steak down and do NOT touch it. The steak should sizzle aggressively. After 2 minutes, using tongs, flip the steak onto its other side. The seared side should be on the golden side of browned. Sear the other side for another 2 minutes. Then, stand the steak up on its fatty edge (opposite the bone) and sear that for 30 seconds. Afterwards, turn it back down on the first side that was seared.
5. Place the steak in the oven and leave it alone for 8 minutes.
6.Protect your hands and remove the steak from the pan, then place it back on the stove over low heat. Add the butter, thyme, garlic and shallots to the pan. As soon as the butter melts, start basting! Use one hand to tilt the pan at a 45 degree angle so that the butter pools at the bottom. Then with the other hand, scoop the liquid butter up with a large spoon and bathe the steak. Baste constantly for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes or so, the steak will be rather rare. If you like it that way, stop now and move to step 6. If you like medium rare (which is your next and last option), keep basting for another minute or two. Move it to a plate and let it rest. Make sure to leave the remaining fat/butter in the pan and reheat it once the steak is ready to eat.
7. Lastly, slice the steak. Cut the steak off of the bones and slice against the grain (perpendicular to the bone) into half-inch thick slabs. Sprinkle on some Maldon salt and drizzle the remaining fat/butter over the pieces. Serve with potatoes and drippings.