OK, I admit it; I am a steak kind of guy. I love my beef, and can appreciate all the variety beef has to offer, and there really is a range. From fresh Argentine beef to dry-aged, to Wagyu and Kobe, but above all I prefer my beloved free-ranging organic Piedmontese cows from Oregon!
So what does it all mean, and how can you figure out what's what? Fair question, and while Steak with Friends – At home, with Rick Tramonto can answer many of these questions, you might end up forgetting them all after reading the killer recipes and seeing the fantastic photography that make this a steak lover’s must-buy. But it really is so much more than a steak lover’s cookbook. In fact, the title is downright deceiving.
Chef Tramonto says, "I like to surprise my friends with savory bread puddings; most people expect bread pudding to be sweet, and so this is a conversation starter. Essentially it is just another form of bread stuffing or dressing and is therefore a great way to use leftover brioche or any good, rustic bread."
Perhaps calling this a steakhouse cookbook might be more appropriate since the staples are all here -- the great apps from crab cakes to oysters Rockefeller, chopped salads, sides, and of course the section on steaks -- but there’s a lot more to this story. Roasted frogs' legs? Uh, yes please. Lobster pot pie? Make it a double. Grilled lemongrass duck with turnips and prunes? OK, I’m game. Bread pudding with Gruyère and shiitake mushrooms? Whoa, let me clear my plate!
While Steak with Friends is not entirely about steak, it does come packed with some of the best info on steak I’ve seen in a long while. From cooking tips to cooking times, the differences between dry-aged and wet and how to choose the perfect cut, there is a mountain of information here, and that’s not even including the recipes.
Now there may be only so many ways to cook a steak, but Chef Tramonto has really focused on the technique in each of these recipes. He’s not trying to reinvent the perfect steak, but rather is showing you how to cook it at home! There are fine recipes for rubs, butters and steak toppers; all great ways to personalize that perfectly cooked steak, as well as a really solid selection of wine tips and recommendations.
Now, since I am first and foremost a wine guy I was surprised by how much attention is paid to wine in Steak with Friends. It’s not in-depth knowledge, then again this is a cookbook, but it is good knowledge that makes it obvious that wine is meant to be enjoyed with Chef Tramonto’s cooking. In short, it really rounds out a rather complete cookbook. And then there are those pictures! For that I’m afraid you’ll have to buy a copy. In a world full of cookbooks, this is one of my favorites of 2010!
I've included a set of recipes for the bread pudding and Steak au Poivre on the following pages. In a way this is a tough pairing because the Steak au Poivre is fairly assertively flavored, but a nice Cabernet Franc-based wine would work really well here, perhaps a Chinon or Bordeaux from Saint-Emilion.
Buy Steak with Friends: At Home, with Rick Tramonto