Another season of The Next Food Network Star wrapped up this week and Lenny McNab scored the win. I was rooting for Chef Lenny, aka The Gourmet Cowboy, from the beginning. He was one of the few contestants with a unique POV. For those non-fans out there, POV stands for “point of view”. It’s a phrase thrown around ad nauseam on the show. The contestants come up with one at the start of the season and work on perfecting it each episode. If their POV makes no sense they usually get the boot.
Although I love watching the car wrecks each week, as the contestants struggle through silly challenges to impress the judges (Bobby, Giada, and Alton), I would prefer to see them do more cooking. But becoming a Food Network star seems to be more about the ability to make a fool of yourself in front of millions of people than about having culinary skills.
Chef Lenny was a favorite from the start since he was willing to go to any length to impress the fans, from duct taping candy bars on his bare chest to a fully-clothed belly flop into a pool in Vegas. How these stunts tie into cooking I’m not sure, but it certainly made for amusing television.
Chef Lenny’s signature dish that won him the title was a Coffee-Crusted Rib Eye. The recipe calls for grilling and flipping steak, throwing handfuls of spice mixture all over the kitchen (some even on the steak too) all while shouting “make it rain!” in a cowboy twang. I knew a dish that involved making such a mess would appeal to the boys. Instead of coffee and refined sugar, I’m putting my own twist on it with cocoa powder and brown sugar. Let’s make it rain! Yeehaw!
Cocoa Crusted Bedlam Steak (inspired by Chef Lenny McNab)
2lbs strip steak, about four 8oz pieces
Salt & pepper
Olive oil, for brushing
Spice rub (save extra in airtight container)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1/4 cup seasoned salt*
* If you don’t have seasoned salt, it’s easy to make, combine:
2 Tbsp Kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp parsley
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder (save any extra in airtight container)
Heat grill to high heat. If you don’t have a grill this can also be cooked in a cast iron skillet. Bring steak to room temperature. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Brush with olive oil. Place on grill and “make it rain” with the spice rub. Cook about 2-3 minutes until you get some grill marks, flip it and, you guessed it, “make it rain!” all over the steak.
Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Flip and repeat until steak is cooked to medium rare. About 6 minutes per side. Add additional flips if you like your steak well done. Remove steak from grill ( with tongs – do not use fork) and let rest 5-10 minutes before slicing. And the VERDICT is:
Matthew (age 7): “It has a special sauce- really good”
Liam (age 5): “I should have guessed it had cocoa!”
Dylan (age 5): “Love it”
Not bad for a city slicker!