At-Home Chef: Grill, Baby, Grill
By Kimberly StolzPublished July 1, 2012
Summer is for grilling, but that doesn’t have to mean messy ribs or burly burgers: it’s easy to create a white tablecloth dinner at the backyard altar of fire.
Chef Bill Doehring of Mitchell’s Steakhouse certainly knows his way around a hunk of meat and shares this recipe for the restaurant’s most popular cut, the filet. In this version, a crust of Gorgonzola cheese caps the buttery beef.
“The filet is right underneath the rib area, the tenderloin,” he said, pointing to his own rib cage. “It’s the most tender cut of beef and does not have a lot of fat.” For Chef, the classic pairing of steak and Gorgonzola works because the earthiness of the blue cheese harmonizes perfectly with the richness of the beef.
Steak fans often feel their home efforts don’t hold a candle to the ones enjoyed in a steakhouse. One trick of the trade that Chef Bill divulged is to always add a squirt of butter to a steak as it heads to the table. The immaculate shotgun kitchen at Mitchell’s has several squeeze bottles of melted butter at the ready. The little blast of fat adds a luscious sheen and depth of flavor.
“We also only use sea salt for seasoning,” he added. “It has more flavor than table salt and also has a courser grind, which adds a flavor burst.”
It is also vital to grind your pepper and other spices fresh.
“There is a huge difference in flavor between black pepper that has just been ground and stuff that’s been sitting around,” he said.
In this case, do sweat the small things; they make all the difference.
Cooking a steak at home also means saying a silent prayer to the god of temperature so that the medium rare doesn’t end up a bloody mess or, worse, a charcoal briquette. There are all sorts of I-swear-by-it rules to the doneness game, but Chef recommends using a meat thermometer. He also advised to keep the temperature in mind when shopping for your filet. “Look for thickness based on how you eat your meat,” he explained. “If you like it well done, buy a thin piece because leaving it on the grill for so long will make the outside burn; if you like it medium rare or rare, you can go for a thicker piece, because it will not be on the grill as long.”
He noted that well done is 160 degrees and then falls five degrees for each taste: 155 for medium well, 150 for medium and on down to rare.
So break out the tablecloth and fire up the grill. Make any night date night.
Bacon-Wrapped Filet with Gorgonzola Cheese
2 7- or 10-oz. filets
4 slices Applewood-smoked bacon slices
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp Gorgonzola topping
2 oz. port wine demi-glace
1 tbsp whole butter, melted
Fresh parsley for garnish
Soak four wooden skewers in warm water for at least one hour. Take a paper towel and wet it with canola oil to oil the grill. Turn your grill up on high heat. Wrap the two slices of bacon around filets and secure with wooden skewers in the 6-12 o’clock and 9-3 o’clock positions. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Place the filets on the grill until they have dark, gorgeous grill marks on each side. Lower the heat of the grill to medium and cook filets to desired temperature. Once desired temperature is reached, place the filet on the top shelf of the grill (or off to the side) and add the gorgonzola crust. Close the grill for a few minutes until the cheese has melted. Place a pool of the port demi glace on a plate. Remove the filet to the plate and let it rest for one minute. Garnish with fresh parsley and squirt half the butter over the top before serving.
Makes 1/2 cup
1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese
1 tbsp minced shallot
1/4 tbsp chopped parsley
1/4 tbsp olive oil
In a small sauté pan over medium heat, sweat shallots in olive oil and let cool. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine.
Port Wine Demi-Glace
Makes 1 cup
1 tbsp minced shallot
1/2 sprig fresh thyme
1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
1/2 bay leaf
1/4 cup port wine
1 cup demi-glace
Kosher salt to taste
Ground white pepper to taste
1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
In a small, heavy bottom sauce pan over medium-high heat, sauté shallots in a little butter until slightly browned. Add port wine, thyme, pepper, and bay leaf and let reduce until it coats the back of a spoon. Add demi-glace and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in butter. Strain.
About the Chef
One of Chef Bill Doehring’s favorite childhood memories is making pizza alongside his father. His mom worked nights, so he and his dad would bust out the toppings and have a blast getting creative with their pies. After all that fun, it’s no surprise the young Clevelander grew up to be a chef.
“I got my first restaurant job at 15 washing dishes,” he recalled. “I was moved to the line my second month there.”
And this wasn’t just any line. It was expedited by the staunchest of kitchen generals: an 80-year-old Italian grandmother.
“She taught me a lot,” he said. “Mostly she taught me to have a passion for food … she was hard to work for – very stubborn, but she had a ton of passion.”
She also taught the teenager every Italian swear word in the book. “Well, I figured them out,” he laughed. “When her temper would flare, she’d yell and I’d ask one of her sons what she was saying.”
The joint was a family-run establishment called the Spaghetti Company and it was there that Doehring made the first dish that he was proud of all the way down to his toes.
“Veal scallopini,” he smiled. “It was awesome … I learned the hard work that goes into great food. Everything there was done by hand. We pounded our own veal, made our own raviolis.”
As soon as the budding chef was able, he applied to Johnson & Wales Culinary Arts program in Charleston, South Carolina.
“It opened up a whole new world for me,” he said. “I learned about low-country cooking; I met people from Texas and Louisiana and was exposed to a lot of different cuisines.”
Spending time in the South also exposed Doehring to the Southern way of doing things: “Dinner there is a three-hour process; here it’s maybe one-and-a-half.”
Since graduating in 1999, Doehring has worked in kitchens from Charleston to Cleveland. In Columbus, he has helmed the line from the gone-but-not-forgotten Engine House No. 5 and to the Columbus Fish Market. While addicted to the rush that is life in a busy kitchen, Doehring commented that his favorite part about the job is the people.
“I love talking to people and hearing their stories,” he explained. “The guests, the associates I work with … I am constantly meeting new people.”
The restaurant world even served as matchmaker for Doehring and his wife: the two met while he was a sous chef and she was the hostess at Charley’s Crab in Cleveland. Today, the family lives in Newark, where his love for gardening has been thwarted by the herds of deer that roam the neighborhood.
“The last time the deer were active, my daughter counted 18,” marveled Doehring. Chef and his wife have two young kids and on his days off, you can often find him in the kitchen, making pizza pies with the little ones, just like his dad did with him.