Food & Drink: Oct 2022

By Abby & Kevin Tankersley

Steak & Potatoes

The weekend that Arch Manning – of the vaunted Manning football family – and eight other high school football players made official recruiting visits to the University of Texas was the subject of a recent story by The Athletic, a website covering almost all things sports-related.

The Longhorns, as do all major college football programs, went all out while hosting the young men and their families. Texas spent about $280,000 on food, lodging and entertainment for their 48-hour visit to Austin.

Their dinner at III Forks, an upscale steakhouse located at 111 Lavaca Street in Austin, saw a final bill just over $36,000 (including a $6,000 tip). The father of one recruit had the 32-ounce Tomahawk ribeye, which cost $135 and wasn’t even the most expensive steak on the menu.

“I’ve never had a Tomahawk before, so why not?” he was quoted as saying in the article.

That’s a lot of money for a steak, but, according to several food websites including and, the ribeye is the absolute best cut of steak, beating out even the filet mignon, which comes from the tenderloin.

The fact that the ribeye has consistently been called the best steak wouldn’t be surprising to competitors in a recent cookoff at Tonkawa Falls Park in Crawford. The Righteous Ribeye Cookoff took place September 10 to benefit youth ministries at the Lutheran church Trinity at Badger Ranch.

There were 23 contestants taking part in the cookoff, said Michelle Dang of the Steak Cookoff Association, who was overseeing the event. The competitors were given two steaks about 9 a.m., and judging took place a few hours later. Five judges evaluated the steaks in five categories: appearance, doneness, texture, taste and overall impression, Dang said.

Kevin McCaig of Moody, who also entered the wing cooking contest that day, said the secret to grilling a good ribeye is good seasonings and to cook it “hot and fast.” He does a couple of rounds of seasoning and then makes sure the surface of his grill is at 500 to 600 degrees. He places the ribeye on the hot grill and leaves it for 90 seconds. He turns in once, and cooks for another 90 seconds. Flip it over, cook for 90 seconds and then one more turn – to ensure the hatched grill marks – and cook for another 90 seconds. Let the steak rest for a few minutes, and then when you cut into it, the center should be warm and pink, a perfect medium doneness. McCaig brushes his finished steak with a little melted butter just before serving. (McCaig, by the way, finished second in the wings competition with his entry of hatch-jalapeno smoked chicken wings.)

Down the way from McCaig and his family, the Smokin’ Biscuits cooking team from Temple was doing its thing. While Bill Hertzog agrees with McCaig’s suggestion of hot and fast, his definition of “fast” was a little different. Instead of 90 seconds, Hertzog said he cooks his ribeye for three-and-a-half minutes before turning it, for a total of seven minutes per side.

Regardless of cooking time, Hertzog said the best way to end up with a great steak on your plate is to start with a quality piece of meat, “choice or higher.”

“Prime is really good, and wagyu is top of the line,” he said. “You’ll be able to find prime or wagyu at Costco.”

For our ribeye recipe below, we took some advice from Hertzog and McCaig and mixed it with our own experiences cooking steak. We ended up with a steak that tasted as good as it looked. Abby cooked three in preparation for the photo shoot. She chose the best-looking one to feature and we had it for dinner that night. The other two were used for Philly cheesesteak sandwiches a couple of nights later.
We served our ribeye topped with a pat of compound butter and smashed potatoes topped with a wonderful mojo sauce. We had a bowlful of the sauce left over, so we froze it in a small ice tray. The frozen cubes can be used when slow cooking a roast; in a pot of beans; in some soups or any number of ways.

We rounded out the meal with roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon and a Bloody Mary made with a mix from 1934 BBQ.

Competition Ribeye Steak

  • 1 ribeye steak, about 1-inch thick
  • Dry rub, your choice
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Melted butter

Sprinkle one side of the steak with a good-quality dry rub. (McCaig prefers a Pancho and Lefty brand rub, which can be bought online.) Press the rub into the meat. Turn the steak over and repeat with the other side. Place the steak on a plate and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

When ready to cook the steak, heat the grill to a temperature of 500 to 600 F. Just before cooking, sprinkle the steak on both sides with salt, pepper and garlic powder, lightly pressing into the steak.

When the grill is ready, place the steak on the grill. Leave it for 90 seconds, then turn it 90 degrees – to create cross hatch grill marks – and cook for another 90 seconds. Flip the steak, and again cook for 90 seconds. Give it one more 90-degree turn and cook for another 90 seconds. Six minutes of cooking time should render a medium steak, with a warm pink center.

When the steak is done, brush it with melted butter and let it rest for 10 minutes. This resting time allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.

Makes 1 to 2 servings.

2 Smashed Potatoes with Mojo Sauce

For the sauce:

  • 1 bunch cilantro, stems removed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, stems removed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • 1 tablespoon chiles in adobo, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt, to taste

For the potatoes:

  • 12-15 baby potatoes
  • 2-3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Sour cream, for serving

To make the sauce, place the cilantro and parsley in the food processor. Add the garlic, lime and chiles. Pulse until the herbs are finely chopped. Turn the food processor on and slowly drizzle in olive oil until the mixture becomes smooth. Add the vinegar and pulse to blend.

Taste and adjust seasonings.

Scrape into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Add the salt and cook until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, about 20-30 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

When cool, use a spatula or the side of a knife and smash the potatoes. In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and butter. Allow the butter to melt, then add the smashed potatoes a few at a time and cook until crisp. Flip and cook the other side until crisp and golden. Remove to a plate and sprinkle lightly with salt. Continue cooking the remaining potatoes, adding a bit more oil and butter if needed.

When ready to serve, add a dollop of sour cream to each smashed potato and top with mojo sauce. Makes about 4 servings

3 Compound Butter

  • 1/2 cup good-quality butter, slightly softened
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chiles in adobo, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Using a fork, mash all together until mixed well. Scrape the butter onto a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a cylinder. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Slice into thin discs and place one disc atop each steak just before serving. Makes about 1 cup.

4 Bloody Mary

  • 6 ounces bloody mary mix
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • Olives, lemon slice, celery, parsley (or whatever sounds good to you) for garnish
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Pour the mix and vodka into a tall drinking glass. Stir until well mixed. Add ice and garnishes. Add a few grinds of black pepper, and serve. Makes 1 drink.

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