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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


For perfect sear, aim for just ‘short of hell’

It was difficult to watch the videos of flooding in Ellicott City last week. My wife, Julie, worked at a hospital there for a couple years, so we drove down Main Street every weekday as I would drive her to work. The picturesque scenery was always a soft spot in the terrible rush hour traffic.
Flooding like that happens every 50 or 60 years or so, and that doesn’t surprise me with the manner in which Main Street was designed; everything flows down into the valley. Given a massive storm such as the one last week, the devastating effect can be seen the world over in our social media-filled lives.
I think it was a day or two later that we had our storms down here, albeit nothing to the tune of Baltimore last week. Compounded with the sinkhole on Route 90, it was nigh impossible to make it onto the island and get home in one piece.
Yes, the storm made a mess of things, but I’m glad that it’s mostly cosmetic and that we don’t have the massive cleanup and damage control that Baltimore has to contend with at the moment. In our own back yard, it looks like a mini-monsoon rolled through, making me wish that I had a working leaf blower. Oh the trammels of first-world living.
Throughout it all, somehow I can’t believe the summer’s almost over; White Marlin Open kicks off in a matter of days and most of us know what that means – hearty amounts of work with the end to the season just around the corner.
I always get a little frantic at this time of year. I know I shouldn’t, but let’s face it; it does get pretty boring down here in the winter. When my friends and family from the left side of Maryland tell me how jealous they are of us living at the beach, I remind them that we don’t have short trips to fun things in January and February such as they have in the city. But then, we can typically avoid rush hour traffic down here. There’s a trade-off for everything, I guess.
With the autumn season breathing down our neck, the yard is already looking very fall-like, with leaves being blown all around the yard by the storm. But no matter, that won’t stop me from searing off some “camp steaks” in the back yard, although I do cheat these days.
I have an outdoor propane burner that will take my cast iron pan to just the right amount of heat (three degrees short of Hell) so that I can get a proper sear. Of course, you just have to be sure that you recognize the difference between really hot butter and butter that has ignited. I will leave that to you, but rest assured, you must be careful.
So, while I do have some yard work to do to get things straightened out from our little storm, I also realize that the leaves will be falling soon and that it just may be a futile attempt. But, I want to enjoy summer just a little bit longer. I’m just not ready for the fall.
Camp Steaks
Serves six
6, 6-8 ounce filets or NY Strips
1/2 pound unsalted butter
Coarse sea salt, as needed
Steak seasoning, as needed

1 cup Four-Hour Demi Heaven Sauce (recipe follows)

1. Trim the steaks so that they are ready to go. Let them sit out at room temperature for at least 20-30 minutes before searing
2. Heat a good cast iron pan on a high flame and add the butter. It’s best to do this outside unless you have a boss exhaust system. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve smoked out my old house doing this indoors
3. There is a fine line between brown butter and that, which has ignited when you are on a high flame, so be very careful!
4. Melt the butter “Galloping Gourmet” style, which means until all of the water has dissipated and you are left with the oil and the butter solids. Allow these to turn brown and add the steaks
5. Cook the steaks for a few minutes until you have a nice crust on the first side
6. Carefully turn the steaks and cook until both sides have that beautiful, dark crust. Cook for three more minutes
7. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the steaks to rest for eight minutes in the brown butter/juice mixture that is now in the pan
8. Remove and slice to serve, topped with your demi

4-Hour Demi Heaven Sauce
Makes about 1 cup
1 cup Dried mushrooms (morels and porcini are great)
1 Hothouse tomato, halved
2 cups water
1 Shallot, minced
1 medium carrot, large dice
1-cup Demi (you should have some in your freezer)
1 cup Dry red wine

1. Place the mushrooms, tomato, water, shallot and carrot in a 1.5 quart saucepan
2. Bring to a simmer and cook for two hours
3. Add the demi and cook for another hour
4. Add the red wine and cook for the last hour, or until the sauce has reduced to an unctuous rib-sticking glorious demi
5. Strain and keep warm to serve