Beef prices have hit record highs the last couple of months, and they are not coming down any time soon. A cattle shortage caused by the drought and a very harsh winter has the U.S cattle herd at its lowest level since 1951, and it will take at least a year to recover.
Being from Texas, I dont think I have lived through a beef shortage like this before. I have always been a buy a steak and cook it that day kind of guy, but at these prices I have decided it might be time to start buying steaks in bulk and freezing them when I find them on sale. The whole concept of frozen meat is kind of new for me. Sure, I remember everybody getting freezers and buying a half a cow when I was a kid, but who does that now? Well, I guess it is time to learn; last weekend Albertsons had choice boneless rib eyes for under $6 a pound, so I decided I would give this frozen-meat thing a try.
After a little research on the subject, it looked like using freezer paper is one of the best ways to wrap your meat for the freezer. So along with picking up five pounds of steaks, I also picked up a roll of freezer paper and some tape. My research also turned up that if you plan to freeze meat, it is best to do it as soon as possible, and not to wait until the meat is about to go bad before freezing it. With that thought in mind, I promptly wrapped my steaks in freezer paper, then bagged them in freezer bags and placed them in the freezer after my purchase.
Wrapping with freezer paper was pretty easy; the process is actually more like folding. You place a steak in the middle of a sheet of freezer paper, grab two ends of the paper and bring them together over the steak and start folding the paper downward until the fold is snug against the steak. Then you fold and tuck the ends under the steak and tap so the ends are secure. I have step-by-step photos in the slide show above the story.
So now that I have frozen steaks, the next question that comes to mind is the best way to fix a steak that has been frozen? It turns out that Modernist Cuisine author Nathan Myhrvold has got that covered. In his quest for perfecting a method to cook a perfect medium-rare steak, Myhrvold developed a simple technique where you first freeze your steak, sear it in a hot pan (or with a blowtorch), then bake in an oven at 200ºF for one hour. This gives you a steak that is seared on the outside, but is a perfect medium rare from edge-to-edge inside.
This sounds perfect; since my steaks are already frozen I can even skip the first step of freezing them. Since I have a blowtorch, I plan to sear my steak with the torch, instead of searing it with a hot pan. I also decided I would smoke my steak on my smoker at around 200ºF instead of using an oven.
Fire and Ice Smoked Steak
• Frozen steak
• Peanut/vegetable oil if searing in a pan
• Salt and pepper or your favorite steak rub
Preheat oven or smoker to 200ºF.
Sear frozen steak on all sides in a hot pan with peanut oil till it has a nice brown sear, or sear frozen steak with a blowtorch if you have one (my preferred method).
Season seared steak with salt and pepper or your favorite steak rub.
Place steak on rack in smoker or on a shallow baking sheet in oven and smoke/bake for around 1-hour at 200ºF. Pull steak when it reaches 130ºF on an instant read thermometer.
Let steak rest for around 5 minutes covered before serving.
It worked! The steak was a perfectly cooked medium rare, and I did not have to thaw it out first. Smoking it instead of baking in the oven also gave it a nice smoky flavor. I might survive this beef shortage after all. Be sure to check out the slide show above the story for step-by-step pictures.