By Racheal McCaig

When the people at Canadian Beef asked me to do some grilling for them, I sort of wondered how an arts & culture photojournalist would do that.   My task was to illustrate the difference between grilling, marinating and simmering.


And then I glanced over at my TV and it became obvious: could I cook the recipes they do on my favourite shows and would they be any good?

Ironically, when I went to my local market and butcher shop, they were filming a Food Network reality series.  (I won’t name it because the crew were so rude, many store customers left in fits of rage.)  I’m going to be honest: it was chaos, so I grabbed what I thought I needed and quickly left…

For the simmering steak recipe, I had decided to make Chef at Home Michael Smith’s Red Curry Coconut Beef.  I had a perfectsimmering cut to start with, but as went to prep my ingredients, I realized that I didn’t know what ½ of them were, let alone have them in my cupboard.  So I scrapped that and went right to hisChocolate Beef Stew instead.  How I could have missed anything with chocolate in the first place is beyond me….

I made in my tagine.  Why?  A) because I had one and B) because I was trying to be highfalutin’.  Plus the cumin, cinnamon and cocoa had a sort of Moroccan flair and I thought it would spice up the meal presentation.

From the start, the aroma was amazing.

For my grilling steak, I decided to tackle one of Jamie (sigh) Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals.

Roast Beef with Yorkies is a 2-course meal with 4 dishes plus Yorkshire Pudding.

This time I chose PEI grass fed striploins.  As per the recipe, I patted on sage, rosemary and thyme with a bit of S and P.  That’s it.

I love Jamie’s (sigh) idea of boiling a kettle while assembling/prepping ingredients instead of waiting for a pot to boil.

That being said, it’s an absolutely frenetic experince and I did make a boo-boo: I forgot to pre-heat the muffin tin for the Yorkies andthey may not have cooked like they should have (read ‘hockey pucks’…)

But the rest of the meal went smoothly and was done within 27 minutes from start to finish.  Again, the smells coming from my kitchen were amazing.

For the marinade, I had a flat iron steak and was going to use the lovely Laura Calder’s French Food at Home.  While she has some amazing stewing recipes (Beef BourguignonBoeuf en Croute) she didn’t really have a marinated steak recipe, so went to to get some help.

I’m glad I did because I learned a couple things there.  For example, I didn’t know to pierce the meat before marinating.  When you think about it, it makes perfect sense –it allows all the loveliness to permeate the meat.

Also, they tell you to pat the steaks dry.  Normally I would have left them dripping and making a mess everywhere.

I opted for a chimichurri marinade to continue the international theme of the meats I was preparing.  I sourced one of my favourites from Canadian Living.

I broiled them for 3 -4 for minutes per side, turning only once, and let me tell you, it was like cutting into butter.  They were ridiculously tender and literally melted in our mouths.

By that time the Chocolate Beef Stew in the tagine was ready.  I might say it was the weakest dish in the bunch.  I think if I’d only made that, we wouldn’t have noticed the difference, but in comparison to the mouth-watering drool-worthyness of the other 2 beef dishes, it came in a poor third.

No matter, it was all ravenously eaten.

Along with the watercress salad (sigh, Jamie’s) and blue cheese butter (from Canadian Beef), I served fresh Quebec cheese curds with the potatoes and gravy to make a delicious anglicized poutine.  Add to that a few bottles of hearty red wine and it was a perfect feast.

Could I be the next food network star?  I doubt it.  But I did have a kitchen full of happy stomachs?  Absolutely.