High-Dollar Holiday Alternative: The Special Salt-Encrusted Sirloin Sensation
Prelude- Let me explain why this particular recipe contains no accompanying pictures; the reason is that THIS year I am planning to make this dish for my New Years Night Party, and I feel that this is such a great alternative to lavish, overdone traditional holiday meals that I didn’t want to wait until after the new year to post the recipe. Plus, I can usually only afford to make this dish once a year so please accept my picture-less apology.
When I was growing up I always looked forward to the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter were ‘The Big Three’ when all of the aunts, uncles and grandparents would gather each of the extended families of cousins and other in-laws, and would have a huge afternoon-into-evening dinner party. This went on from the time that I was a baby into my early teens and, although I loved those times, the one thing that always bugged me was this; the menu never changed. Because it was always the same group of people, and because everyone had to make or bring their own special ‘signature’ dishes, it was a constant combination of all three holiday menus. There was always a massive turkey, a giant ham and 2 different types of polish sausage (pork and beef), along with the green bean casseroles, creamed corn, pumpkin pies, crescent rolls, etc. This happened three times a year, EVERY year from my birth until I obtained a drivers license. (Yes! Thank you Jesus!)
This is why I prefer to have non-traditional menus during MY holidays. I want something that I don’t eat during the year but that I look forward to making and consuming. Something laid back and casual, but decadent, naughty, rich. Something that that is so expensive to make, you couldn’t afford to eat it out at a restaurant. I’m going to share one of those recipes now. This particular one works great with any of the ‘Big Three’ holidays, but is also perfect for poker parties or during the playoffs–provided you collect a cover charge at the door. It’ll feed at least 8 so plan accordingly. This ain’t cheap, but it’s worth every cent!
Presenting, what I like to call “The Special Salt-Encrusted Sirloin Sensation” or, “Some Real Expensive Meat Thrown In a Bunch of Butter.”
First, get to know your butcher. I don’t have a butcher so I’m at the mercy of the guys behind the meat counter at my local Whole Foods, which means that I am dropping a significant amount of coinage on this purchase. The upside is that they are very knowledgeable and are only too happy to cut you a piece of beef that costs so much you’d better hire armed guards. What you need is an eight-pound boneless TOP sirloin. NOT a roast. Tell them that you basically need eight one-pound boneless top (not bottom) sirloin steaks, all in a single hunk of meat. You’ll also need three 26-ounce containers of table salt along with 4 pounds of unsalted butter. Oh, and a couple of freshly baked loafs of good sliced bread. French, sourdough–whatever is your favorite, you’re going to need a lot! This is the main course and I usually either serve just a salad before it or an appetizer. When you begin eating this you’ll know why.
Once you get your meat home, carve off any extra fat (there shouldn’t be much). Next, lay it in a roasting pan and cover it with salt. I mean pour it on! Don’t rub it in, just completely cover the surface. It should take about one and a half containers per side. Place the meat in a pre-heated broiler for 25 minutes. Then, pull it out and remove the salt. It should come off in 3 or 4 large pieces. Turn the meat over and cover it again with the remaining salt and pop it back into the broiler for another 25 minutes. The salt seals in the juices but doesn’t make it overly salty tasting.
While the meat is cooking on the second side, get a large stock pot and throw in the 4 pounds of butter and melt it over a medium heat. When the meat is done, don’t let it rest! Remove the salt coating, cut it into 4 or 5 chunks and throw it into the butter. The meat juices will mix with the butter, creating what one friend lovingly refers to as ‘Angel Jizz’. Get a couple of stacks of bread that are cut in half slices and a large serving platter. After letting the meat sit in the butter for 5 minutes, remove a hunk and begin slicing it into thin pieces. Take each slice of bread and dip one side into the butter in the pot and top that with a slice of meat. Continue this process until the platter is full. Don’t be surprised if you have a crowd in the kitchen helping at this point. No silverware is required. And the meat will go from well done to medium rare so carve some from a couple of different chunks. Refill the drink cups often and let the good times roll!
Now THIS is a holiday!
Your recipe reminds me of Jim Enger’s article in the November 1990 issue of Esquire.
The title, Eat Your Heart Out, describes in detail the very dish you are “creating” here.
The sirloin is a wonderful, festive centerpiece to a very simple meal, and Enger’s article describing the origins and circumstances of the dish–steak Rolendeli– was entertaining and memorable. Perhaps you ran across it?
Yes! I read that article when it came out and then made this dish. Years later I found my grocery list and directions, but I couldn’t remember where I had seen the original article. Thank you for this info. If I remember right, that Jim Enger piece also had a cheese-filled mushroom cap appetizer which goes great with this. But you are correct, this was based on that Esquire piece.
We do the mushrooms with gruyere, not monterey jack as in Enger’s piece and the head lettuce salad and the sorbet with the shot of vodka for dessert. The menu is a great foil for a big Bordeaux. For bread you have to find a great Pullman loaf (from Amelias in Indy) or Pepperidge Farm. I cook this meal every 23 years. I first read the article in November 1990 when I took my now 29 year old to the ear, nose and throat doc, and I served it for a casual flannel shirt New Years Eve.
A good memory is a terrible curse. I am happy to email the original article to you. Chris Murray from the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library very obligingly sent me a scanned pdf of the original piece.