I was a picky eater as a kid. In those days, if it wasn’t hot dogs, plain spaghetti with butter, bread or a sugared cereal, I wasn’t interested. Dennis, usually made it home from work before my mom so dinner duty usually fell to him. In an effort to defuse dinner time tensions between my mom and I, he would endeavor to make a big deal about dinner preparation. When he was trying to get me to try something new, he’d call it Gourmet by Dennis. The man couldn’t wield a screwdriver to save his life, but he was master of all things grilled. Usually.
On this occasion, Dennis’ cousin Paul would be joining us for dinner. The meat selection for the evening was a round steak. Dennis prepared the marinade, and allowed the steak to bathe in some wine, garlic and spices. He wrapped the beef in heavy duty aluminum foil and slathered it with onions, mushrooms and the marinade and put the “Steak Miraculous” on the Webber charcoal grill to cook.
Throughout the preparation, he hyped this meal as THE most amazing ever. He assured me my taste buds were in for a treat. My picky eater, tween self was more than skeptical, but I had learned by then to keep my food opinions to myself, lest another tussel break out about my preference to live on bread and Coco Puffs.
The table was set, the salad made and the potatoes baked (in the coals of course). The hype continued to build. Steak Miraculous would astound and amaze. It would change the way I thought about dinner in general and steak specifically. It would be THE gold standard of dinners.
There was much pomp and ceremony surrounding the foil packet’s delicate removal from the grill. Glory Glory Hallelujah may even have been hummed. My mom, Paul, and I were told to be seated while the delicacy was plated and prepared for it’s debut.
It was presented, and we diners offered up the appropriate amount of oohs and ahhs for such a momentous occasion. The steak was cut, er hacked, and served. I delicately picked away the offensive mushrooms and onions (I know, I know, remember I was a picky eater. I’ve since become a devoted worshiper of the sacred triad that is mushrooms, onions and garlic). Carefully, I cut a small bite. It took some effort, but I managed to break away a minute morsel and get it into my mouth. I chewed and I chewed, and I chewed.
It was what I imagined it would be like to eat corrugated cardboard. Corrugated cardboard that was marrinated in red wine and garlic. I kept chewing. Like I said, I was a picky eater and had already engaged in my share of dinnertime tiffs over what I would and would not eat. There was no way I was going to be the first to offer my less than stellar opinion of Steak Miraculous. Slowly, I lifted my head to gauge the opinions of my fellow diners. They too were still chewing. I looked from my mom, to Paul to Dennis unable to read their expressions. My mother broke first with a snort of laughter as she continued to chew, and chew. Paul was next and finally Dennis. I eventually joined the gales of laughter. We laughed so hard we cried.
Steak Miraculous was awful.
It wasn’t just awful, Steak Miraculous was quite possibly THE most miraculous disaster in the history of Gourmet by Dennis. It was 100% completely inedible. It was tough and tasteless and flat out gross. It was a meal that would live in infamy because I didn’t have to eat it.
I’ve since learned that round steak is best suited for slow cooking and thin slicing. To this day when I see it on sale in a grocery circular, I chuckle. I also came to learn that the more Dennis hyped a dish, the less confident he was in its success. Still, he kept trying and eventually I learned that there was more to life than bread and Coco Puffs.
Monday would have been Dennis’ sixty first birthday. By the time he died, we’d shared many more successful Gourmet by Dennis dishes including, Potatos Anna, Bowman’s Tower Chicken and even a grilled Thanksgiving turkey. He however, was never able to convince me that turnips were a food, but that didn’t stop him from trying.
This post was inspiried by Busy Dad. Go watch his tribute to beef and learn how you could win $100 Omaha Steak gift card courtesy of the American Cattleman’s Association and The Motherhood.
I am not being compensated for my words, I’m married to a serious carnivore and I really want to win the gift card 🙂
It is worth noting that I grew up to appreciate all the glory that is a good cut of beef. I refuse to buy beef in the super market. Instead, we get ours from a local butcher. The cost is a bit more per pound, but I have him package our order in appropriate portion sizes, so there is very little waste and the taste is worth it!