Last weekend was the unofficial start to summer and so far this week, it feels like summer is here. Last weekend was spent weeding, planning and dusting off the patio furniture and now that all the work is done, our minds turn to entertaining friends in the backyard. Our favourite meal for summer outdoor entertaining is to grill up a big old Porterhouse Steak! It is actually very simple to make but makes an impressive entrance and is beyond tasty. I am pretty sure all of our friends have eaten this at least once at our house!!
First things first, what is a Porterhouse? It is basically a thicker version of T-Bone. Both the T-Bone and Porterhouse are two steaks in one…the smaller part is the tenderloin and the larger part is a striploin. To be a Porterhouse, the steak must be cut from the fat end of the tenderloin and be at least 1.25” (3 cm) thick…although I prefer mine to be 2” or (5 cm) thick. This is a lot of meat, so unless you are feeding Shaggy from Scooby Do, this is going to serve 3 to 4 people.
Now you typically won’t find a Porterhouse sitting on the shelf at your local grocery meat counter, so plan ahead and call up your favourite butcher (even if he or she is on the opposite side of town). This recipe is so simple the quality of ingredients is amplified, so splurge on the best beef and make sure you break out your best finishing olive oil and your Maldon’s sea salt. Also, the only way to make sure you nail this steak is to have an instant-read thermometer. If you don’t have one go out and get one!!! It truly is a kitchen essential!
The key to success with this Porterhouse (besides buying the best beef you can) is to use both direct and in-direct heat. You will need a grill that has multiple burners to achieve this. You start the steak directly over the flame (direct heat) to give it a nice crispy char on the exterior. Then the steaks are moved to a part of the grill that is turned off (indirect heat)…that’s pretty obvious now that I have explained it, right?
Once that baby is cooked, let it sit for at least 10 minutes. This will allow the internal temperature to rise and for the juices to be redistributed into the meat. I like to serve it thinly sliced on a big platter with a green vegetable that has been sautéed in olive oil and garlic. I usually keep the tenderloin and striploin separate so our guests can experience a bit of each. Now go phone your butcher and invite some friends over!!
Italian-Style Porterhouse Steaks
serves 6 to 8
2 – 5 cm (2”) thick porterhouse steaks
2 tsp (10 ml) sea salt, such as Maldon’s, plus additional for finishing
2 tbsp (30 ml) high quality olive oil for finishing
2 lemons cut into wedges for serving
Using paper towel, pat steaks dry. Then rub steaks all over with sea salt (1 tsp per steak). Preheat your barbeque on high for at least 10 minutes. Lightly oil the grill be dipping a piece of paper towel in canola or vegetable oil using long tongs and then quickly glide over grates. Sear steaks with barbeque covered until strong grill marks appear on the steaks. About 5 minutes per side.
Turn off one burner. If you barbeque has three burners, turn off the middle one. Move steaks above the turned off burner. Reduce heat on the other burners to medium. For medium-rare, grill steaks with barbeque covered and turning occasionally until they register about 125°F (52°C) in the smaller piece of meat (tenderloin) and about 110°F (43°C) in the larger part of the steak (striploin). Be sure you are inserting your thermometer horizontally and avoid the bone to get an accurate reading. This usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes.
Transfer steaks to a cutting board and let stand loosely tented with foil for 10 minutes. The internal temperature of the steaks will rise about 10°F. Cut each piece of meat off of the bone and then thinly slice the tenderloin and the strip loin across the grain. Arrange on serving platter. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with additional sea salt and serve with lemon wedges.
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, June 2004