A lucky group of Chase credit card members spent this weekend at the Marriott Camelback Inn, enjoying a personalized evening of food and wine prepared by the executive, namesake chef of BLT Steak (a.k.a. Bistro Laurent Tourondel). Late afternoon guests were treated to BLT's Executive Chef Laurent Tourondel and Head Chef Marc Hennessy demonstration of how to grill one of the specialties of the steakhouse, the Spice-Rubbed Cowboy Rib Eye. Later that evening the chefs retreated behind the scenes to create a five-course feast with artful wine pairings.
(Learn the secrets of grilling the perfect steak and see what was on the menu after the jump.)
Tourondel of BLT Steak slices into a steak that is ready to serve.
Tourondel and Hennessy offered several helpful tips for cooking the perfect steak that translate well from the professional's kitchen to the amateur's kitchenette. To ensure a tender cut, Tourondel suggests pre-cooking your steak at home to about medium-rare, then allowing it to sit for at least an hour. After the juices have settled and the steak is well rested, slap it on the grill for a quick sear on each side to bring to steak to your preferred level of done-ness.
The chefs also explained how they determined the level of done-ness in their steaks, using the old balled-up fist method. Squeeze your fist into a tight ball and touch the flesh between your thumb and forefinger, then touch the middle of your cooking steak. If you like your steak well-done, it should spring back with the same resistance. The feel from a loosely balled fist is equivalent to medium, and the tension from a barely balled fist is similar to a rare steak. If that's too confusing, take the guesswork out of the process by using a thermometer inserted lengthwise into the meat. But whatever you do, don't cut into the steak! Such a testing method is anathema to the professional chef, since it prematurely releases all those savory juices.
If you prefer a smoky flavor, there's no need to buy an expensive smoker particular to the job. Creating a tin foil smoker in your oven is an easy way to obtain that distinct mesquite flavor
without dropping a couple hundred on a smoker you may only use a handful of times, and best of all, it's a chef-approved method.
The chefs set aside the rustic charm of a well-cooked cowboy steak during dinner, and emphasized a fine dining aesthetic. It was one of the best meals we have the pleasure of experiencing in a very long time, and we have the photographic evidence to prove it:
Over-sized popovers were the perfect balance of airy and crisp, with a savory egg-y flavor that was complemented by a silky layer of fresh butter.
Espelette pepper-spiced orange marlin topped with julienne white asparagus, marinated artichoke hearts, and onion-y ramps embodied spring. It was paired with a Hanna Estate Sauvignon Blanc from the Russian River Valley.
Apple wood-smoked Berkshire pork cheeks were served atop a sweet pea puree and topped with pickled onion, capers, and a Cabernet vinaigrette. A pinot noir from the Terlato Family Vineyards in the Russian River Valley accompanied the smoked pork.
Poached Dover sole was served atop a bed of sauteed endive, topped with a fresh green chutney and delicate chive blossoms, and surrounded by a preserved Meyer lemon butter. This delicate fish was accompanied by a light, but fruit-forward Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier Viognier from the Pyreness.
The fourth course was the crowning achievement of the evening, a well-marbled Wagyu filet mignon "au poivre," coated in cracked peppercorns, topped with a medallion of foie gras and sitting atop an herbed butter. It was accompanied by sauteed fiddleheads and a squash blossom potato croquette, and served with a Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon from the Stags Leap District.
A bit of something sweet to finish off the evening: A cup of hot chocolate with a red chile kick topped with cinnamon-dusted marshmallow fluff, a velvety dark chocolate terrine with a creamy mint ganache center, and a hazelnut-crusted Valharona rum ball with nutella. Served with a sweet dessert wine, the Two Hands Brilliant Disguise Barossa Valley Moscato.