For a long time, I wanted to talk about one big important topic for all home cooks, MEAT! It’s pretty disappointing when we get what it seems to be a juicy steak and then we go home, make the best chimichurri sauce ever and the meat is just not what we had in mind. Well, this happened to me before.
Fortunately, I had the opportunity to meet Chef Bjorn Rasmussen last week (Corporate Chef for hospitality group Element Collective in Chicago, Illinois) to ask some questions that from my perspective, we- home cooks- should definitely consider before buying any kind of meat. Big thanks to PRE Brands for making this interview possible! You guys should REALLY try all of their options.
About Chef Bjorn Rasmussen
Bjorn Rasmussen is the Corporate Chef for hospitality group Element Collective concepts, including Nellcôte, RM Champagne Salon, Kinmont, Old Town Social in Chicago. A graduate of The Illinois Institute of Art at Chicago, Rasmussen has since earned his cooking stripes from a wide variety of restaurant and hotel concepts, including the luxury Waldorf Astoria hotel, formerly the Elysian, in Chicago’s Gold Coast, Alpana Singh's Old Town upscale American fare-focused restaurant, Boarding House, Lincoln Square’s Bistro Champagne and the inventive, market-driven Lula Café in Logan Square. In 2014, he landed at River North’s sustainable-seafood-focused restaurant Kinmont to helm the culinary program with opening executive chef Duncan Biddulph. In 2015, Chef Bjorn was promoted to a corporate chef role with Element Collective to work alongside executive chef Jared Van Camp.
Rasmussen’s diverse culinary background brings sophistication and simplicity to his cooking style. His dishes showcase high quality, locally sourced ingredients with vibrant flavors and polished, thoughtful compositions. Rasmussen’s vision to celebrate each season’s fresh offerings is executed with refined technique, bringing the spotlight to natural flavors and textures with unfussy, approachable presentation.
You will be able to catch him and say hi this Sunday September 25th at the Chicago Gourmet event, he will be using PRE Brands products to make a "PRE Seared New York Strip with Hominy Puree, Poblano Soubise, and Pork Crackling", sounds awesome right? Well, you might get the chance to get the recipe, just stop by PRE Brands tent, taste the dish and ask for it!
What kind of steak would you recommend for all home cooks? I’ve heard that ribeye always does the trick in the stove, what do you think?
First, I recommend PRE Brands grass feed beef. But when it comes to cuts consider the following:
About Ribeye. Chefs love ribeye because of its high fat content which will cause more moisture, flavor and chew to the final dish.
About New York Strip steak. This is the same muscle as the ribeye but comes from a different part of the body. It has definitely less fat than the ribeye but with a similar flavor profile. This would be the go-to option for home cooks since it’s easier to get a good result in a regular kitchen.
Chef Bjorn says that fat does not equals flavor but it will surely help to deliver it in a more pleasant way.
What would be the top 2 factors to consider if we want to cook a good piece of steak in our home kitchen?
Chef Bjorn says that we should always be interested in getting meat that is good for the planet, which is also the reason why he loves PRE Brands. We should keep an eye on:
Grass feed options will always be the ones to grab in the market.
Last but not least, look for pieces with NO antibiotics. As he well said, we should look for meat that is good for the planet.
Chef Bjorn, tell us about temperature. If we’re grilling our steaks outside, what are those things we need to keep an eye on?
There are so many factors to consider when it comes to temperature, but all comes down to having two areas in the grill, one really hot (more charcoal) and the other one medium (less charcoal). The meat should be seared in the hot area for about 30 seconds until you notice its caramelizing. Then, the level of doneness, which depends on your taste, will be handled in the medium heat area of your grill.
Talking about the level of doneness, what would you think is the biggest misconception about these levels?
Rare equals better. This is not true since it all depends on the piece of meat you’re cooking. For example, you want a good cut of tenderloin which is a very expensive piece rare since it has a low level of fat. You can have a New York a little bit more medium rare, same as ribeye.
Last but not least, how would you recommend to use an 85%, 92% and 95% of fat ground beef? Are there dishes that will come up better if we select one of them specifically?
Chef Bjorn says that these levels are more related to our health consciousness but he is more interested in the complement of that number, the levels of fat (15%, 8% and 5%). To give us some examples:
15% (85%) is used to make hamburgers and meatloaf where the main ingredient is beef and moisture needs to be retained.
8% (92%) is regularly used for tacos. The meat is leaner and there is no residual fat in the pan when cooking. Chef Bjorn strongly recommends to reason this type of meat.
5% (95%) is recommended for pasta sauce where flavor is added through many ingredients.
To finish this interview, Chef Bjorn wants to encourage all of us to cook more at home, to take risks and to cook with ingredients of good quality.
“There is beauty in simplicity” – Chef Bjorn Rasmussen
You can go and have a taste of his menu at Old Time Social restaurant in Chicago Illinois. And also in the upcoming Chicago Gourmet event happening in Millennium Park from September 23-25! (To read about my last year's experience in this event click here).
Thanks for reading!