Fresh beef is easy to spot. Many stores
use freshness dates on their labels, so choose the meat with the furthest
"sell-by" date. In addition, fresh beef has creamy white fat, not yellow, and
feels springy to the touch.
Another means of judging freshness is color. When beef is first exposed to
oxygen, it develops a cherry red color, called bloom. The inside of the beef,
and any surfaces that are not exposed to oxygen (such as a cut of beef covered
by another cut), are dark purple. (If the meat is vacuum packed, all of it will
be dark purple, not cherry red, because the packing seals off any oxygen.) As
time goes by, exposure to oxygen will cause the meat to turn brown. This color
change does not mean that the meat is spoiled, only that it isn't as fresh as it
could be. It should be used immediately.
Grilled Steak and Charred Onion Bruschetta
1/4 C. dry white wine
2 T. grainy Dijon mustard
1 T. chopped fresh thyme or 1 t. dried thyme
12 oz. thinly sliced round steak, salt and freshly ground
2 large sweet onion, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 t. vegetable oil
2 diagonal slices of Italian bread, each 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick
1 small bunch watercress
Prepare a hot barbecue fire. Oil the grill rack or coat with a nonstick
vegetable spray In a small dish, combine the wine, mustard and thyme. Set aside.
Season the meat lightly with salt and very generously with pepper. Rub the onion
slices with the oil.
Grill the meat and onion, turning both once or twice until the meat is cooked
through and the onions are soft. The meat will take about 2 minutes per side and
the onion will take 3 to 4 minutes per side.
During the last few minutes of grilling, set the bread at the edge of the grill
to lightly toast both sides. Generously spread one side of the toasts with the
mustard mixture. Thinly slice the meat across the grain. Place meat and juices
on the toast. Separate the onion into rings and set on the meat.