Apparently, word has gotten out that in addition to being a police chief, I am something of a foodie.
I am not sure if it is my ever-increasing waistline and cholesterol levels that have led to this thinking, or the fact that the city manager often drops the “i” in my title and refers to me as “Chef Ward.”
The truth is, after a long day of enforcing the law, I enjoy a good meal and the experience of dining with friends and family more than any of my many hobbies.
Whether it’s preparing a tasty treat for a few guests or going out to a restaurant, I always am searching for new recipes and places to eat.
Through this column, I will share some of my favorite dishes and eating establishments I have come across during my searches.
To start out, I thought there is no better place than home.
Several times a year, my wife and I have people stop in and visit us here in Arkansas City.
Having spent our first 50 years in Lawrence, we still have many out-of-town connections who occasionally come for a visit.
My favorite meal, which always is a big hit, is a Creekstone Farms Premium Black Angus rib eye steak from WB Meats.
Located at 423 S. Summit St. in Ark City, WB Meats has an incredible selection of fine meats and even pre-made sides.
The rib eye steaks are a true masterpiece — each steak is well marbled and thick, weighing in close to a pound each.
If you or your guests have a really big appetite, be sure to pick up some of their jumbo-sized russet potatoes to go along with those steaks.
While WB Meats’ steaks are the crème de la crème, they also have many other great items, such as baked beans, smoked pulled pork, brisket … and of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention their bratwurst.
But those are subjects of another article.
Prepping the steak
When preparing a WB Meats rib eye steak, I usually stick with the basics — a loaded baked potato and asparagus, wrapped in bacon and drizzled with a brown sugar glaze.
For the steaks, you always want to allow the meat to come up to room temperature before cooking.
This will give you a more evenly cooked steak, which is important when preparing thick steaks.
I like to generously coat both sides of the steaks using McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning and then set them aside so they can warm up before they hit the grill.
Baking the potatoes
For the potatoes, baking them in the oven is the only way to go.
After washing and patting them dry, I apply a light coat of olive oil and then sprinkle on course sea salt.
The olive oil crisps up the skin nicely and the salt opens up the flavor of the potato.
I normally bake them in the oven at 375 degrees for about an hour or until they are soft throughout.
Don’t wrap them in foil, as this will steam the potatoes and you will not get that restaurant-quality skin that is as good to eat as the meat of the potato.
For toppings, I prefer lots of butter, sour cream, a small amount of grated cheese and real bacon bits.
Glazing the asparagus
For the asparagus, I take about four or five stalks and wrap one slice of bacon around them, leaving the tips and ends exposed.
I place the wrapped asparagus bundles in a baking dish and then prepare the glaze.
For the glaze, I use 1/2 cup of light brown sugar, a stick of butter, a tablespoon of soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt and 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper. Be sure to stir the mixture constantly while heating it.
After bringing the mixture to a boil, I pour the glaze over the asparagus and then bake it at 375 degrees for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the bacon is done and the spears begin to wilt.
Grilling the steaks
Now that the potatoes and the asparagus are baking, and the steaks have come up to room temperature, it’s time to grill those bad boys.
Through the years, I have had many different grills and smokers, but I finally have found the best.
The Yoder Smoker, made in Yoder, Kansas, is without a doubt the best grill-smoker combination you can ever buy. They are easy to use, built to last a lifetime and prevent annoying flare-ups. Best of all, they are sold at All Things Barbecue, located at 818 W. Douglas Ave. in Wichita.
I like to set my grill to 350 degrees for my steaks, although some people say you need to “sear” the steaks at a high temperature.
If you choose to grill yours that way, don’t put the seasoning on until after the steaks are done. When pepper is cooked at high temperatures, it becomes bitter and will affect the flavor of the steaks.
Since I grill at a lower temperature, I like to grill my steaks for 10 minutes on each side. That caramelizes the outsides well and adds the classic grill marks. From that point on, be sure to use a meat thermometer so you get your steaks done the way you and your guests like.
Always remember to pull the steaks off the grill when they are about 10 degrees below the desired wellness because they will continue to cook while they rest. Last but not least, I like to throw on a pat of butter while they rest and let the butter melt across the top of the steaks.
As Julia Child said, “Everything tastes better with butter.”
Topping it all off
While this is an incredible meal as prepared and surely will leave you loosening your belt, I also enjoy making a red wine reduction sauce with mushrooms to top it off. This is an easy way to up the ante. To make this sauce, I sauté finely chopped shallots in — you guessed it — butter.
Once they start to caramelize, I add either shiitake or portobello mushrooms.
After the mushrooms and shallots are done, I put them aside and then add about half a bottle of dry red wine to the same skillet.
I allow the wine to begin to boil and then start whisking in a small amount of flour. The wine will reduce, which intensifies the flavor, and the flour causes it to thicken. Once the sauce coats the back of a spoon, you are ready to add back the mushrooms and shallots.
This delicious concoction then can be poured over the top of the steaks for a taste that cannot be beat — and you still have half a bottle of wine left over to drink with the steak.
I have made this meal many times over the last three years and it continues to be one of my absolute favorites. In fact, some of my guests have started to bring coolers with them when they visit so they can take some steaks from WB Meats back with them.
I hope you have a chance to enjoy this dinner for yourself and impress your guests while you are at it.
If you know of another great dinner recipe that I should try out or you have a favorite restaurant that serves that very special dish, let me know.
I would love to check it out and maybe even write about it.
This information was provided by Arkansas City Police Chief Dan Ward.