comparing steak

Beautiful Lake Tahoe.

So far, it’s more than lived up to my expectations. My first glimpse of the lake as I drove up was absolutely breathtaking: bright blue water, a deep emerald forest. It looked like paradise for outdoorsy people. It is pretty secluded up here though, which is nice for the time being, but I don’t think I could ever live in a place this far off the beaten path. Except for the tourists and those that come only in the summer to vacation.

Location is lovely, but let’s consider what’s really important: yes, the food.

I have yet to explore the local restaurants, but hear that good burritos are nearby. Nothing beats some authentic Mexican food on a blue skied, sunny summer day.

I’m currently here as part of a program on entrepreneurship and creating innovative business ideas. We’re staying at a local college, and while the food is passable, I’m really craving a good steak. Much like the steak I had last week, right before I left to come to Lake Tahoe.

Lesson learned: always enjoy a great meal before leaving home to travel.

You never know when your next good meal is going to come before you return home. And yes, while food is not the defining factor of how enjoyable life can be, if you’re going to eat, the food should be the best you can find or make. Food fuels our bodies, and we should put the best quality fuel into our bodies; we ask them to do a lot.

So when you’re about to embark upon an adventure during which you’re not sure how well you’ll be able to fuel yourself, take care to get a little extra nourishment beforehand.

Like the best steak you can find, grilled to perfection, with the perfect sauce.

Now there is a particular reason that steak was one of my last meals at home prior to leaving. Remember that awesome food store where my mom and I got the rack of boar and ground kangaroo?

Well, it’s called Marx Foods.

They pride themselves on having high-quality everything, and on the day we visited, were bent on proving that they have some of the best steak around. They offered me a challenge: Take one of their grass-fed New Zealand-raised steaks. Take my favorite go-to steak from wherever I would ordinarily purchase steak. Prepare and cook them exactly the same way. Then compare, take notes, and decide which one was better.

Thank goodness they proposed this challenge, because it led to one of the best recipes I’ve come up with so far.

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Marx steak on the bottom, our butcher’s steak on top

I went to our favorite butcher and got a grass-fed ribeye, our family go-to when we’ve got a hankering for steak. This steak was laid out next to the Marx Foods steak. Both were seasoned, grilled, glazed with homemade apricot-bourbon sauce, and served.

They were then consumed by my two anonymous taste-testers and myself.

I’ll give it away now: we thought the Marx Foods steak was better.

That said, it was more difficult to cook. The steak from Marx Foods was thicker, and plumped up to about twice its initial height during grilling. This meant that it took approximately 1.5 times as long to cook than its traditional counterpart. So if this has been a speed race, the Marx steak would have lost.

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Marx steak on the left, our butcher’s steak on the right

However, the wait on the Marx steak was worth it. It had a deeper, much more intense flavor than its competitor. It was juicer and much more tender. The steak from our butcher had a lot of gristle and, while flatter, was drier. As the pictures show, there was a piece of steak left on the plate when the meal was over. This leftover was from our local butcher’s steak. It got thrown out the next day. The steak from Marx food was devoured in about 5 minutes flat. It was hands-down the best steak we’ve ever enjoyed at our kitchen table.

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the leftovers

Perhaps we can arrange a stop at Marx for another steak on the way home from the airport when I get back from Tahoe?

In case you were curious, here is the recipe for the steaks and the apricot-bourbon sauce to go with.

Enjoy!

Make sure you make the sauce first, as it takes a while and sits around pretty well!

Apricot-Bourbon Steak Sauce and Glaze.

9 fresh apricots

¼ cup water

2 shallots

1 cup stock

½ cup bourbon

4 TBSP barbeque sauce

1/8 cup maple syrup

¼ tsp black pepper

½ tsp salt

½ tsp chili powder

Cook down the apricots and water for about 20 minutes. Saute the shallots a pan for about 5 minutes and then add all the other ingredients, including the apricots. Simmer for about 25 minutes more. Take about 1/3 of the sauce and run it through a sieve. This will be the glaze for the steak. Put the rest aside for serving with the steak later.

IMG_1835Steak preparation:

Drizzle both sides of the steak with a tiny bit of olive oil and rub the oil in. Don’t be afraid to give that steak a little massage! Sprinkle both sides with salt and garlic powder. Throw on the grill on medium heat for about 6 minutes. Turn and cook for another 5-6 minutes, depending on how well done you like your steak. During the last 2 minutes or so, brush the glaze on the steak, turn, and glaze the other side Then let the steak finish cooking. We like ours on the rare side of medium rare which, if you’re using a thermometer, is about 120-125 degrees (make su

IMG_1848

re you let the steak rest, tented with foil, for about 7 minutes after taking it off the grill though. This lets the juices redistribute themselves e

venly throughout the steak).

Enjoy smothered in the apricot sauce!

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