I finished all the cooking classes I had bought from Craftsy in 2014. I love taking cooking classes because even with stuff you think you know how to do, you can generally pick up some great new tips. (Brendan McDermott changed forever how I scramble my eggs, and Molly Stevens put a big twist on how I'll be roasting chicken from now on.) So, one weekend in January when I was hanging out in my hotel room trying to turn my brain off from a day of meetings so I could go to sleep, I was tooling around in Craftsy's sale section and landed on Cooking the Perfect Steak with Bruce Aidells.
Now, mind you, my husband has it down when it comes to using our grill in the summer. No problem there at all. But he was convinced there was no point in having steak in the winter. In his mind, there was no way you could do a steak as well in the kitchen. So I figured this class might offer us some alternative cooking methods that could keep us in steak year-round.
Bruce Aidells clearly knows his stuff and he's good at explaining everything he does. I still have difficulty remembering which cut of beef is which when I'm facing the butcher case trying to pick out the right cut for the method I want to use it for, but Bruce's explanation of the different types of steaks and their respective levels of tenderness was very helpful and clarified for me some things I've run into over the years.
His class does cover outdoor grilling techniques, and I may have picked up a tip or two there; however, for me, the real benefit of the class was the first couple of lessons that all involve the stove and oven. I bought a couple of strip steaks and used his techniques to make them for dinner one night, fervently hoping I didn't mess something up because those puppies aren't cheap.
Fortunately, I didn't mess anything up. I used a dry rub we already had on hand because I discovered I'm out of a few of my go-to seasonings (when did that happen?). He gives a recipe for a dry rub but it didn't appeal to me--he has other recipes for condiments in the class I can more easily see myself adapting, but I get a kick out of creating those things myself anyway. But this time, I just cut to the chase and opened a jar.
The steak turned out very well--I was shooting for medium-rare and hit the target. It was an easy enough process, of course, and paying attention to what Bruce Aidells had said to look for at various stages helped me keep on track with getting the level of doneness I wanted. DH and I both liked the results, although he wouldn't quite get to saying it was just as good as the grill in the summer. But hey, it was still good!
- 7 lessons ranging from 14 to about 24 minutes. The first lesson includes information about what to look for in a good cut of meat, terms, grading, aging, and so forth.
- Lessons 2-5 each address a different cooking technique--the first two indoor, the second two outdoor. In each, he talks about different cuts of meat that work well for each technique, and gives a recipe (with ideas for variations) for a rub, marinade, or side dishes to go with the steak.
- Lesson 6 talks about how to measure doneness and gives a very thorough look at different types of thermometers.
- Lesson 7 addresses knives, carving, and additional condiments.
- The class materials are 11 pages of recipes, both for the steaks as well as the condiments, side dishes, and so forth.
There was only one "miss" that I noted in the class, and several people had commented on it in the class discussion so he was able to explain. In lesson 6, as he describes each level of doneness (rare, medium rare, etc.), he doesn't show an example of what it looks like. It should have been easy enough to have one steak of each doneness sitting in front of him or flashed on screen as an image. He explained that he expected pictures to be in the class materials but the graphic had gotten inadvertently left out. First of all, there's a reason why you do a PDF: you can fix it and upload a new version easily enough. But even without that, why leave it to the PDF? You're on video, show the examples on the video.
Still n' all, that's my only quibble with the class--and for me, it wasn't a big deal because I know what the degrees of doneness look like. But if I were a new cook, I'd have struggled a bit with that section.
So I give Cooking the Perfect Steak with Bruce Aidells one thumb up, one thumb mostly up but maybe leaning just a hair off-center. Still, if you're a carnivore, this is a good class!
(As usual, using the Craftsy links on this blog post help support my podcast and blog. Thanks so much!)