Thursday, February 7, 2013

Southwestern Steak & Grits

I knew I had written a post on Shrimp and Grits.... Everybody loves Shrimp and Grits...But I can't eat seafood...What I can I enjoy with Grits that's just as good?...Answer Steak and Grits!


  • 1 cup quick grits
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 ounces grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 can Regular Rotel (tomatoes & chilies), DRAINED
  • 2 ounces chopped green chilies (1/2 of one of those small cans)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan or, even better, an oven-proof pot, like LeCreuset. Add the salt, then stir in the grits and continue to stir until the water comes back up to a boil, then cover and turn the heat down to low. Let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so. 

After 5 minutes, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the two cheeses, Rotel (drained, unless you want to burn your taste buds off), chilis, cayenne pepper, and paprika. Stir until all cheese is melted and well incorporated. Add freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
Transfer pot to oven (or pour grits into a casserole-type baking dish) and bake uncovered for about 45 minutes.

Let the grits cool for about 10 minutes prior to serving. The top layer will firm up a bit, and, when stirred into the pot, makes for great texture.
For the steak:
  • 16 ounce steak of your choice (we love flatiron – see below)
  • Olive oil
  • Dry rub of your choice (I swear by Dizzy Pig Cowlick)
In a 1-gallon Ziplock bag, pour about 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of your steak rub, mix together well, then drop your steak in the bag. Get as much air out of the bag as possible and make sure the steak is well coated in the olive oil + rub mixture. Marinate for at least an hour or overnight.
Remove your steak from the fridge at least an hour before you plan to cook it. Load your grill up with charcoal and get it as hot as possible.

With the Egg, we go for about 800 degrees. :-0

Incidentally, for a steak that is at least 1.5 inches thick, I swear by the TRex Method. You can read TRex’s novella at the previous link, or you can just remember: hot sear, 20 minute rest off the heat, roast at lower temperature until done.

So I started by searing our flat iron steak (our favorite “budget cut” – the 2nd most tender cut after the tenderloin, but with a rich flavor closer to that of a ribeye, and for a fraction of the price) for about 90 seconds a side.

Normally you would rest a steak off the heat for 20 minutes, then roast it until done at around 400 degrees. But I was racing against the sunset for photo lighting last night, so we rested the steak for only about 5 minutes, then finished it off at around 500 degrees for about 4 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature read 135 degrees.

Prior to slicing your steak, always let it rest (again) for at least 5 minutes; during this time the juices, which had been driven to the meat’s surface by the high grilling temperatures, will redistribute themselves into the interior of the meat, leaving you with a much juicier steak. If you slice into a steak too soon, most of the juices will be sitting in a pool on your plate, instead of moistening and adding flavor to each slice.

In conclusion, Let’s be honest, you just can’t go wrong with steak, right? But having said that, I thought the grits were – without question – the star of this duet. The addition of cream cheese was brilliant, as it brought the creaminess to a level of perfection without having to add bags and bags of grated cheese. And the Rotel adds just the right southwestern kick without stealing the entire show.

If you’re feeling spicy and have a hankering for comfort food, this dish is sure to satisfy.

Enjoy! Eat well my friends!

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Food Safety Tips
Protect yourself against food-borne illnesses.

1. Use a "refrigerator thermometer" to keep your food stored at a safe temperature (below 40 degrees fahrenheit).

Cold temperatures slow the growth of bacteria. Ensuring that your refrigerator temperature stays at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of food-borne illness. You can buy a refrigerator/freezer thermometer at appliance stories, home centers (i.e. Home Depot), and kitchen stores including online ones, such as

2. Defrost food in the refrigerator, the microwave, or in cold water... never on the counter!

Perishable foods should never be thawed on the counter for longer than two hours because, while the center of the food may remain frozen, the outer surface may enter the Danger Zone, the range of temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees fahrenheit, in which bacteria multiply rapidly. If you’re short on time, use the microwave or you can thaw meat and poultry in airtight packaging in cold water. Change the water every half-hour so it stays cold and use the thawed food immediately.

3. Always use separate cutting boards for raw meat/poultry/fish and cooked foods/fresh produce.

Bacteria from uncooked meat, poultry, and fish can contaminate cooked foods and fresh produce. An important way to reduce this risk is to use separate cutting boards for raw meat/poultry/ fish, and cooked foods/fresh produce.

4. Always cook meat to proper temperatures, using a calibrated instant-read thermometer to make sure.

One effective way to prevent illness is to use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat, poultry, and egg dishes. The USDA Recommended Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures are as follows:

* Beef, veal, and lamb (steaks and roasts), fish - 145 degrees fahrenheit

* Pork and ground beef - 160 degrees fahrenheit

* Poultry - 165 degrees fahrenheit.

Cook meats like roasts and steaks to lower temperatures, closer to medium-rare, so that they retain their moisture. It is recommended that those who are at high risk for developing food-borne illness (i.e. pregnant women and their unborn babies, newborns, young children, older adults, people with weakened immune systems, or certain chronic illnesses) should follow the USDA guidelines.

5. Avoid unpasteurized/raw milk and cheeses made from unpasteurized milk that are aged less than 60 days.

Raw milk is milk from cows, sheep, or goats that has not been pasteurized (heated to a very high temperature for a specific length of time) to kill harmful bacteria that may be present. These bacteria, which include salmonella, E. coli and listeria, can cause serious illness and sometimes even death. The bacteria in raw milk can be especially dangerous to pregnant women, children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems or chronic illnesses. Raw milk cheeses aged 60 days or longer are okay, since the salt and acidity of the cheese-making process make for a hostile environment to pathogens.

6. Never eat "runny" eggs or foods, such as cookie dough, that contain raw eggs.

Even eggs that have clean, intact shells may be contaminated with salmonella, so it’s important to cook eggs thoroughly until both the yolk and the white are firm. Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160 degrees fahrenheit and you can use an instant-read food thermometer to check. Eggs should always be cooked fully and those who are at high risk for developing foodborne illness (pregnant women and their unborn babies, newborns, young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems or certain chronic illnesses should follow the USDA guidelines. If you can’t resist runny eggs or sampling cookie batter, use pasteurized eggs. They’re found near other eggs in large supermarkets.

7. Always wash your hands in warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds before handling food and after touching raw meat, poultry, or eggs.

You can pick up a lot of bacteria out in the world, so it’s important to always wash your hands before you eat or prepare food. You should also wash your hands after touching any uncooked meat, poultry, fish, or eggs, as the bacteria from these foods can contaminate cooked foods and fresh produce. Use soap and warm water and wash thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.

8. Always heat leftover foods to 165 degrees fahrenheit.

The USDA recommends heating all cooked leftovers to 165 degrees fahrenheit in order to kill all potentially dangerous bacteria.

9. Never eat meat, poultry, eggs, or sliced fresh fruits and vegetables that have been left out for more than two hours or more than one hour in temperatures hotter than 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you leave perishable foods out of the refrigerator or freezer for more than two hours they may enter the Danger Zone—the unsafe temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, in which bacteria multiply rapidly.

10. Whenever there’s a food recall, check products stored at home to make sure they are safe.

You should discard any food that’s been recalled because it’s associated with the outbreak of a food-borne illness. But, according to a survey conducted by Rutgers University during the fall of 2008, only about 60% of Americans search their homes for foods that have been recalled because of contamination. For more information on food recalls, visit the website

Cavier & Vodka
Courtesy of The Lady (Bug) of the Household