As I mentioned before, last month I visited the Certified Angus Beef headquarters in Wooster, Ohio. I ate so much glorious beef and met so many friendly, down-to-earth people in my two days there, so much so that every few minutes, I’d mentally fist-pump and yell “‘Murica!” in my head. Maybe it was the fresh air, the rolling farmland, or the 18 different ways I ate beef. I don’t know. I felt a lot of pride.
After returning from Wooster, I ran straight to my local meat market carrying Certified Angus Beef (as it turns out, that would be Balducci’s in McLean; in Charleston, the only two retail stores carrying Certified Angus Beef are New York Butcher Shoppe in Mt. Pleasant and Boone Hall Farms Market; for a full listing of where you can buy Certified Angus Beef, click here). I wanted to try cooking Certified Angus Beef for two reasons. First, I wanted to make sure that the fresh, melt-in-your-mouth meat product that I’d sampled in Wooster could in fact be reproduced at home, without the heady buzz of Certified Angus Beef aroma that seemed to permeate in Wooster. Secondly, I felt so happy and warm eating Certified Angus Beef in Wooster that I just wanted to eat it again. And again.
I’m thrilled to report that Certified Angus Beef tastes just as good at home as it did in Wooster, thanks to its stringent quality standards that ensure that every single cut of Certified Angus Beef lands on your table with the same high-quality taste every time. In Wooster, Chef Peter at the Certified Angus Beef Education and Culinary Center introduced several different cuts of steak in an (almost) all-beef lunch, and my favorite was the coulotte. The coulotte, also known as tri-tip or the sirloin strip, is an affordable, juicy cut that doesn’t need much in terms of dressing up, but can be great with just a few savory touches. I made mine into a Certified Angus Beef coulotte and chimichurri butter with blackened corn and thick grilled disks of Spanish eggplant.
My favorite part of my beef trip to Wooster was the thought that went into showing us all aspects of what it takes for beef to be labeled Certified Angus Beef. The Certified Angus Beef brand is actually a license; farmers everywhere submit their Angus beef after processing to be considered for the Certified Angus Beef label. If their beef meets all of CAB’s quality standards, it gets labeled as such, and then the beef gets sold for a higher price than other Angus beef. In addition to spending time with Dr. Phil Bass, the meat scientist in residence at Certified Angus Beef, we went to visit the Atterholt Family Farm, run by two brothers, Mike and Aaron Atterholt, and their families. It didn’t take long to see the hard work and pride that went into their work in tending over 700 acres of pasture for their herd.
Like I said, ‘Murica.
Back at home, I was dying to see if my coulotte would turn out as beefy and hearty as the coulotte I’d sampled in Wooster. Ge Ge (my four-year-old food loving son) insisted on going with me to pick up our coulotte, which was on sale that week for $14.99 a pound. This isn’t cheap steak, so I wanted to make sure that however I prepared it would showcase its natural flavor. Ge Ge jumped up and down excitedly as I carefully selected a 1.24 pound piece for our family of five (including our au pair, who eats dinner with us most nights of the week). The butcher slid a cool red triangular chunk onto waxed paper, and Ge Ge clapped. “Mommy, it’s so silky!” He’s a wordsmith, that one.
As it turns out, the words kept pouring out of all of us after I grilled the coulotte. I wasn’t sure whether the kids would notice, or even care, about the higher-quality Certified Angus Beef. Meimei (my two-year-old) has always loved a good steak, but Ge Ge is a tougher sell. If the steak is too sinewy, fatty or tough, he’ll eat one bite and then emphatically decline the rest. Dinner is not fun for anyone on those nights, because we’ll never hear the end of it.
As soon as I sliced up the coulotte into 1/4″ thick slices and laid them on each kid’s plate, Ge Ge, my food critic, took a careful bite. He closed his eyes, then popped them open in surprise. “Mommy, this steak is so juicy AND crunchy!” he exclaimed in delight. “Why does it taste so good?” Meimei was equally pleased, dancing around with a medium-rare piece of her own. Mary McMillen, the director of Public Relations at Certified Angus Beef, told me in Wooster that “Beef is the meal of celebration,” and apparently, that maxim holds true in our house. Ge Ge kept holding up pieces of coulotte and yelling “Yayyyyyyyy!!!” before eating bite after bite. I wish I were making this up, but I’m not. We’re total (food) crazies over here.
The coulotte was further helped by the compound butter I made in a food processor earlier in the day, blending together parsley, red wine vinegar and garlic into softened butter to make a chimichurri compound butter that melted over the coulotte slices as they cooled. When swirled with the soft eggplant and the blackened corn, the whole dish took on a tart freshness that was accentuated by the creamy richness of butter. The kids loved it, but I loved it even more. Certified Angus Beef coulotte and chimichurri butter is heavenly. It’s steak the way steak should taste — decadent, comforting and homey all in one bite.
Plus, every time I eat a CAB steak now, I’ll always be transported back to the time when I got to hold a hacksaw and cut into a side of beef.
- 1.25 pounds Certified Angus Beef coulotte steak
- 2 tablespoons plus ¼ cup olive oil, divided
- 3 Spanish eggplants (or other baby eggplants)
- 5 ears fresh corn, shucked
- ⅓ cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves
- kosher salt and pepper
- Make ahead: at least one hour before serving, combine butter, parsley, red wine vinegar and garlic in a food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cut a piece of plastic wrap about 13 inches square in size and spoon butter mixture into the center to create a loosely shaped log about 2.5 inches wide by 6 inches long. Fold edges of plastic wrap over the short (2.5-inch) ends of the butter, then roll the butter up in the plastic wrap so that it forms a log. Freeze for at least one hour.
- About a half hour before grilling, remove steak from refrigerator. Rub with 1 tablespoon olive oil and freshly ground pepper and set aside, covered, to allow meat temperature to rise to room temperature.
- Slice the ends off the eggplants, then continue slicing in parallel fashion to create ½" thick circular disks. Drizzle olive oil over corn, add pepper and set aside.
- Oil grill and heat to 350 degrees. Pour ¼ cup olive oil in a small bowl and set next to grill along with salt and pepper. Lightly and quickly dip eggplant slices to coat with oil on each side and season with salt and pepper before placing on grill. Grill about 3-4 minutes per side until eggplant is soft, brushing with more olive oil occasionally to prevent sticking or drying out.
- Season corn and steak with salt and add to grill. Turn corn at least once after 3-4 minutes to blacken slightly on each side. Cook steak for 4 minutes on one side, then flip and cook until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees for medium rare (or desired doneness).
- Remove corn and eggplant from grill and arrange on platter. Let steak rest for 5-6 minutes, then slice into ¼" slices. Remove compound butter from the freezer and slice horizontally into ¼" thick disks. Place over steak and let melt slightly. Serve immediately.
The chimichurri compound butter was inspired by this recipe by Savvy Mujer