Joe, his friend Linda and myself went to a pub on Friday night called the Lass O’Gowrie. It’s a big place, but on this particularly evening there were only about two dozen people. As we ordered our first round Linda noticed that they were having a meat raffle. She purchased 3 dollars worth of tickets, and as luck would have it she won. Linda had me choose which particular package of cuts to take home, but the pickings were admittedly slim. I settled on a package that had 5 sausages (referred to as “snags” in Australia) and two cuts of beef that would best be described as cube steaks. As soon as we won the meat raffle Joe and Linda wanted to head back home and cook the winnings, I’m always hungry so I didn’t argue.
I should preface the rest of this story by adding that on my first two days in Joe’s apartment I attempted to cook myself some bacon for breakfast, but Joe’s range has only two settings, cremation and off. Cooking bacon at the “cremation” level produced a large smoke cloud in Joe’s apartment and he hasn’t let me live it down sense. Three weeks later and he still claims his apartment smells like a burnt pig. I’ve since found that the back right burner on his range does allow for an acceptable amount of heat control, and I can now cook bacon with confidence
Anyway, I noticed the entire lack of any marbling or fat to be found in the structure of the beef cuts that Linda had won, and I knew that if I attempted to cook one on Joe’s grill I’d be enjoying a warm piece of boot leather. So I formulated a plan to make a country fried steak with my cut of beef. At first Joe wasn’t gonna have it, fearful that if I fried the steak on his range I’d make his home smell of more burnt animal flesh. Linda was confident that if she “tenderized” her steak with Joe’s rolling pin that it would be plenty tender. I attempted to explain the concept of country fried steak to Joe and Linda, telling them that I intended to repeatedly stab holes in the beef cut with a fork, lightly tenderize it, and then coat it with a beaten egg and seasoned flour. After that I would lightly fry it in a cast iron pan with peanut oil. Joe was not buying that this method would produce a piece of meat with anymore tenderness than Linda’s method of tenderizing and grilling. I attempted to construct an explanation of the chemistry and physics of cooking with hot oil, and how this would produce a tender and moist cut of meat. But I had to face the facts, I don’t know shit about chemistry or physics and Joe was calling me out left and right. Eventually I just said, “Joe, sometimes shit just works” he said “Those are confident words coming from a budding scientist”
But, ultimately, Joe became curious about my methods, and allowed me to make my country fried steak. He had a little taste test comparing mine to Linda’s. His conclusion was that my steak was definitely more tender, and certainly tastier than the tenderized and grilled version and all I had to say was, “sometimes, shit just works”.