You may not know the name William Rice but for decades he was the Food Editor for the Chicago Tribune. He attended the Cordon Bleu Cooking School, cooked and baked in France professionally, and was a food writer and journalist of prominence before moving to the Tribune. He only wrote one cookbook, in 1997, but it is just what you would expect from a male foodie in a big meat town: Steak Lover’s Cookbook.
It’s a well written, almost terse book that is easily followed. Today, I bought a rib-eye steak to grill. Turning to Page 85, there’s a description of why rib-eye is ideally tender and a recommendation for Pinot Noir Beurre Rouge, based on French tradition and, I think, those two year at Cordon Bleu. Of course, William does offer rib-eye options:
- Mushroom Compote
- Sweet-Hot Mustard-Beer Sauce
- Tangy Caper Sauce
- Roasted Onion Sauce
- Basil and Green Pepper
The book is divided into four sections:
- About Steak tells you why not to age steak at home and what to look for at the store.
- Uptown Cuts covers the rich styles of steak: tenderloin, T-bone, porterhouse, strip, rib, rib-eye and sirloin.
- Downtown Cuts offers you ideas for equally fulfilling meals with less expensive cuts: chuck, round, tip, and skirt.
- Finally, All Around Town offers recipe ideas for before, with and after the steak. This is the fun chapter actually. Eighteen years ago, what was cutting edge in Chicago? Has the edge dulled?
For those starters, you’ll find
- Beer and Cheese Spread, I’m a favorite of Bears fans
- Eggplant and Pest Dip, still contemporary
- Mango Guacamole
- Chicken Liver Pate
- White Gazpacho
To pair with the steak, the ideas include:
- Cowboy Beans, made with bell peppers, onion and tomatoes
- Apple-Stilton Coleslaw
- Mushroom Strudel
- More Than Mashed Potatoes, combining mushrooms, celery root, parsnips, basil and crème fraiche
- Potato Pot Pie with Rosemary Cream
- Spinach Spoon Bread Soufflé
After the steak comes:
- Bananas Clarence, or Bananas Foster with Madeira wine
- Strawberry Gratin
- Mississippi Mud Pie, made with Oreos
- Rich Raisin Bread Pudding
They age steaks to make them better. All in all, I’d say that the Steak Lover’s Cookbook has aged pretty darn well. I know, that Mud Pie might seem dated, but a Mushroom Strudel alongside a great steak seems to be a marriage that should never end.
If you remain a hardcore steak person, then this book is one you will use just as I do. The recipes are simple, the preparation easy. In one page, you have something with distinction. From a foodie in Chicago via France.