This book is very much in keeping with their first book, Franklin Barbecue. If you loved that, you’ll love this one, too. If you’re new to Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay’s books, this is not a cookbook. There are a few recipes for side dishes and sauce at the end, but their style is to mentor your steak education. If you read it from cover to cover, you’ll understand everything there is to know about steak, and you’ll be fully equipped to make that perfect steak. They are awesomely thorough. I’ll walk you through the chapters, so that you’ll know what to expect.
Chapter 1: The Story of Beef. This is a primer on the different kind of cattle, with a very open discussion about all the pros and cons about grass-fed vs grain-fed cattle and how the aging of cattle affects flavor, with comparisons of perceptions throughout the world. It made me a little more eager to try out the new local butcher down the street, and to take a trip to Spain for a comparative taste. Great discussion.
Chapter 2: Buying Steaks. He talks about brands, grades, labels, marbling, hormones, and antibiotics, and then gives a quick guide on page 45 to help you select that perfect steak. The short of it is a list of visual cues to look for in selection, along with a few other ways to increase your likelihood of getting the best product, rather than relying on labels.
Chapter 3: Steak Cuts. This chapter covers all the different cuts of steak, steak language (defines terms you might see in the butcher’s shop), bone-in vs. boneless, American butchers vs. continental butchers, and a cheat sheet of cooking approaches by cut.
Chapter 4: Dry Aging. Wow. He gives instructions to dry age at home if you’re super adventurous and have tons of space – like a spare, dedicated fridge for aging.
Chapter 5: The Grill. He talks about stovetop, the oven, gas grill, sous vide (which he calls Steak by Spock), Kamados, old-fashioned charcoal, and hibachi. Then Aaron gives instructions on how to make a hybrid hibachi.
Chapter 6: Fuel. He talks about charcoal briquettes, lump charcoal, Binchotan, coconut charcoal, and then moves on to all the varieties of cooking wood imagineable.
Chapter 7: Firing up. This covers equipment use like how to start a charcoal chimney, tongs, grill brushes, trowels and pails, sheet pans, sizzle platters, towels, thermometers, and squeeze bottles. Then he moves onto firing up separate cooking zones and how to utilize different fuels, with a grill setup quickguide at the end.
Chapter 8: The Cook. This is the one we’re all probably skipping ahead to before going back and reading the whole book in earnest. He talks about cooking goals and how to achieve them: A robust savory crust, proper doneness, salt, fats and oils, room temp before cooking?, grill marks and flips, resting, and freezing. Then he moves onto all the cooking considerations: hot and fast, reverse sear, steak on the coals, blast furnace, how thickness and weight come into play, and how the diet of your steak (as in what that cattle ate) affects the cooking.
Chapter 9: Sides, Sauces, and Drink. Yeah. Green Salad with Garlic Vinaigrette, Garlicky Sauteed Mushrooms, Raw Tomatoes, Twice-Baked Potato, Home Frites, Grilled Vegetables, Salsa Verde, Charred Jalapeno-Anchovy Compound Butter, Perky Red Wine Sauce, and discussions on beer, wine, sake, and spirits.
Okay, after reading through his ideal salting schedule, I picked up steaks for tonight and the next two nights. I grabbed my personal favorite, Bavette, sometimes labeled as sirloin flap (middle), filet mignon (right), and top sirloin (left). I weighed them out and weighed out the prescribed salt ratio. Just by visual inspection, it’s more salt than I usually use. I can’t wait to see how that plays out. I was just playing in a Greek book and that author used more salt than I usually do, and my kids who normally say lamb’s too gamey, liked it. I’ve only had the book for a day, and it’s already getting interesting with a tweak to my norm.
The Twice-Baked Potatoes were fabulous! He uses less butter and sour cream than I normally would, but I think he gets away with it because of the bacon addition. Niiiice. The bavette steak wasn’t salty tasting at all with that salting, just really nicely flavored. I used what they call the Franklin Formation, meaning I stuck a log in one side of the grill with lump charcoal on the other side. I like the little extra smokiness it gave. I went with the Chimichurri on top for some brightness against that rich steak. Perfect. This chimichurri involves anchovies and capers in addition to the parsley, garlic, and olive oil.
The Green Salad with Garlic Vinaigrette is 10 minute easy, but really flavorful. I usually double all garlic in recipes. I’m finding that’s not necessary in this book! My tenderloins were really thick, so I cooked them to 105 in the oven to get them started, then quick seared them in hot cast iron on the stove to bring them up to 128. I went the Charred Jalapeno-Anchovy Compound Butter to top it since it’s such a lean cut. Flipping fantastic dinner! These were salted heavily and rested for 24 hours and it didn’t taste salty at all, just perfectly seasoned.
The Garlicky Sauteed Mushrooms were effortless and lovely. I made the Perky Red Wine Sauce for our sirloins. Lots of onion, Dijon, and butter make it flavorful and silky. These steaks were heavily salted and rested in the fridge for 48 hours and the flavor was perfection. I did the Franklin formation in my grill again, and I love what the wood adds to it. It’s funny, because I use wood in my smoker all the time when I’m barbecuing, but hadn’t thought about adding wood to a quick grill before. The flavor’s gorgeous.
I’ll update this as I play with the concepts in the book and let you know how it affects my results, and as I try out those side dishes. I’m excited to dive into this!
- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: TEN SPEED PRESS (16 April 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0399580964
- ISBN-13: 978-0399580963
- Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 2.7 x 26.1 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 1.1 Kg
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)