Randall Lineback is an American heritage breed of slow-maturing all-purpose cattle (bred for dairy, meat and labor) being brought back from the edge of extinction by a handful of farmers, including Joe Henderson of Chapel Hill Farm in Berryville, Va. The Linebacks are pasture-raised, grain-finished and processed at eight months, so they are too old to be considered veal and too young to be considered beef. Their flesh has a rose hue, a fine grain and little fat. The flavor is distinctly unlike that of the beef or veal most Americans are used to. Substitute ground veal or beef in this recipe if you must, but the flavor and texture will not be the same.
Because Randall Lineback meat has fine grain and less fat, Henderson suggests cooking it over low heat and to no more than medium doneness. Medium-rare is optimal. This recipe starts the meat off in a cold pan over medium heat rather than following the usual method of high-heat searing and pan-frying. Cutting the meat off the bone and slicing it into neat, 1/2-inch-wide slices is an elegant way to serve the steak.
The meat is available at the Butcher's Block and at Society Fair (opening in early 2012), both in Alexandria.
Make Ahead: The butter needs to be refrigerated for at least 2 hours so it becomes firm. It can be prepared several days ahead and refrigerated or a month ahead and frozen. Bring to room temperature before using.
- For the butter
- 1/2 cup full-bodied red wine, such as syrah or cabernet sauvignon
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
- 1/4 teaspoon good, coarse sea salt, such as fleur de sel or Maldon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- For the steaks
- Two 26-ounce Randall Lineback rib-eye steaks, 1 3/4 inches thick, at room temperature (see headnote)
- Kosher salt
- Cracked black pepper
For the butter: Combine the red wine and vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook for 12 to 14 minutes, stirring as needed, until the liquid has reduced to a dark, thick syrup (about 2 tablespoons). Transfer to a ramekin and cool completely.
Combine the softened butter, parsley, shallot, salt, pepper and cooled syrup, pressing everything together with the side of a rubber spatula. (The syrup will resist combining with the butter, but persevere.)
Transfer the butter to the center of a large piece of plastic wrap. Roll and form it into a log shape, twisting the ends to form a compact roll. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, so it firms up.
For the steaks: Use paper towels to blot the meat dry on both sides. Season generously all over with the salt and cracked pepper. Spray the steaks on both sides with nonstick cooking oil spray, then arrange them in a heavy-bottomed saute pan or cast-iron skillet, pressing down on them to make sure they have nice contact with the bottom of the pan or skillet.
Place over medium heat and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until a nice brown crust has formed. Turn the steaks over and cook the second side for 8 or 9 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted in the center of the meat registers 125 degrees (medium-rare). Remove from the heat; let the steaks rest for 10 minutes.
To serve, carve the meat from the bones, then cut it into 1/2-inch thick slices. Transfer the slices and the bones (for good gnawing) to a warm serving platter. Drizzle any pan juices over them, and dot with thin rounds of red wine balsamic butter.
From Sourced columnist David Hagedorn.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
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