Like most of my recipes, this recipe has a back story. Feel free to skip to the end if you just want to get cooking.
It was 1999 and I stumbled onto a forum post about a new Half Life mod called Counter-Strike that was being developed by two college kids. The mod wasn’t done, but an early beta version was available for download. Counter-Strike was a first person shooter where you played as either a terrorist or counter-terrorist, basically like SWAT vs bad guys, and you had to rescue hostages. The concept sounded fun, and the graphics looked great, and after downloading the very first beta, I was in a word, hooked. Side note, the history of Counter-Strike is rather cool. Summary: two college kids hit it big by building something for free.
Counter-Strike consumed most of my social life for the next few years in the form of playing online with friends and coworkers. Bear in mind this was before high speed internet was widely available and 56k modems were still the de rigueur of the day. Low bandwidth connections to the internet were problematic for first person shooters back then because whichever player had the faster dialup connection usually won – he can see and shoot the other guy before the other player knows he’s there because of network latency.
The effect of the latency dynamic to gameplay was that once you found a server with a good connection speed (i.e. low ping rate, generally 150-250 milliseconds) then you tended to frequent the same server over and over. That means you’re playing with the same bunch of folks over and over and friendships develop.
After a year or so playing with the same group of folks, someone, I have no idea who it was, suggested that we form a clan (internet geek speak for team) and start competing against other teams in one of the leagues that were springing up around the game. We said why not, and so we registered for Team Warfare League (TWL). About a year later we took first place in TWL.
At some point in the post-win festivities, someone suggested in our IRC channel that we all get together since we’d never actually met before in person, yet basically talked every day for the last two years and knew each other well. After a bunch of back and forth, we decided to meet at one of the guy’s house in Boston over a weekend in September. About fifteen of us drove or flew up from all over the east coast – Florida, New York, Vermont, Georgia, Texas, and Rhode Island to name few. Ages ranged from 16 to 55 and from all different walks of life. I’ll go ahead and say it – yes, meeting strangers on the internet is weird. However, it’s not altogether much different than when you finally meet a coworker that works remotely and that you’ve talked to on the phone for two years, yet never seen.
On Saturday night, the night of our big celebration party, we opted to cook some steaks on the grill. One of the guys on our team, [‘sc,]2, or Sean in real life, was a chef in Providence. He looked in the cabinet, pulled out a mishmash of random stuff, and sent us to the store with a shopping list to get the rest. What follows is the recipe he used that night, and to date, is still the best steak I’ve ever had.
- 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 Worcestershire sauce
- 1 TB spoon oregano
- 1 TB spoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 TB spoon ground black pepper
- Honey. I’d estimate about 1/4 cup, but I tend to just hold the Honey Bear upside down and squirt a bunch into the Ziploc.
- Filet mignon, 1 batch of marinade will handle about 4 medium sized steaks
Put all the ingredients in a 1 gallon Ziploc bag, sans meat, and shake the bag well. That will mix everything together before you drop the meat in. Note, wrap the Ziploc seal around itself and hold it tightly or you will end up with marinade all over the kitchen. I know from experience.
After the marinade is mixed, drop the steak in and let it set for at least 2 hours, but longer is better. I generally try to get the steaks in the marinade the night before I cook them or at least in the morning around breakfast time. Note, if your refrigerator is very cold, the olive oil will congeal. Take it out every so often and shake things up, with the steak in the bag this time, to break up the congealing and make sure the meat is absorbing the flavors.
Cook the steaks on the grill, high direct heat ~500 degrees, charcoal works best rather than gas, and just be cautious of oil flare ups. A lot of the olive oil will soak into the meat and sometimes its best to let them sit on a plate and drain for 15-20 minutes while they come up to room temp. Cook to desired doneness, a medium-rare or medium is usually perfect. The honey will caramelize while cooking and you’ll end up with some very flavorful “crunchies” on the outside edges that are like little flavor bombs of Worcestershire, balsamic, and sweetness.