Great Steak Challenge – Region 8

Region 8′s semifinal for the Beringer Great Steak Challenge is now over!  I had high hopes, but, alas, I didn’t place.  I did give it a good try; one of the judges said they really liked my Red Eye Steak, while the other two said it had a bit too much coffee to it, but they did like it.

We were told the contest is going to happen again next year, so I am already working on ideas for my next steak recipe!  The Red Eye Steak recipe was good, I thought, and the hotter the fire is (without burning the crust), the better the steak:

For the marindate/sauce -

  • 1 cup Beringer Founder’s Estate Old Vine Zinfindel
  • 1 cup brewed espresso
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tsp black pepper
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 Tbsp butter

For the rub -

  • 1/4″ cup finely ground espresso beans
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

For the steak, use a 1 1/2″ thick ribeye – the big steak will stand up to the big flavors used!

Combine the sauce ingredients (minutes the butter) a couple hours before grilling the steak, and put the steak in the sauce, turning every 30 minutes, in the fridge.  When ready to grill, pat the steak dry and put a coating of rub on each side.  Grill over a medium hot fire to 125 degrees F internal temp and put in foil for 5 minutes to rest.

The steak will take about 20 minutes to grill; while that’s taking place, put the marinade in a sauce pan and bring to a boil, then simmer while the steak grills.  When the steak is foiled, add the 2 Tbsp of butter to the sauce.

Slice the steak into thick slices and spoon sauce over the steak.  Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs and serve with your favorite salad or side dish.

I thought it turned out well, but the gas grill didn’t get as hot as I really wanted it to be.  With different judges, I might have won, I think, but the judges seemed to tend to like sweeter flavors than I was using.  I’m not complaining, just stating that I didn’t go for the flavors they tended to like.

The day of the event was great. It was windy in the Detroit area, but, unlike our recent 95 degree days with high humidity, Saturday brought mid 60s temps that felt very fall-like. My wife even wore a sweater! The wind died down when we were ready to cook, and everything was just about perfect.

The 10 cooks were split into 2 groups of five, and I was in the first group. Friday night, I met with Nick to verify my ingredients, etc. It was great just showing up and having everything there for me. It also felt odd; I kept thinking I hadn’t done something I needed to do. I also was able to have a couple glasses of wine while the second group cooked, and I had time to really enjoy the day. However, I would have loved to have won, or at least to have placed. I think my approach was just too big, with very in-your-face flavors. What the judges tended to like was a flavor profile a bit sweeter and milder.

One of the best parts of the weekend was meeting up with a friend from high school, Larry, and his wife Mary. We went to dinner with them and had a great time talking about stuff from almost 30 years ago. It’s hard to believe I’m old enough to have 30 year old memories! Larry, like me, married up; Mary is really great! We had a nice, calm evening with them and enjoyed ourselves very much.

Here’s the winning entry:

I want to thank Katie, Nick, all the guys working the event (working much harder than I had to) and Beringer Vineyards for putting on the first annual Great Steak Challenge… It was really fun.

Shannon at The Daily Balance has a great write up on how to by a loser and still have fun! She was also in the challenge, cooking right next to me, making a great looking flank steak!

With no more blathering, here are more photos of the event. Watch over the next few months for new attempts at steak for next year’s entry!

About Curt McAdams

I guess I'm a bit of a foodie, learning to cook from my mom, then getting obsessed with outdoor cooking, competition barbecue, bread baking and just about all things food. Lately, I've been trying to upgrade my photography skills a bit, though I still have a long way to go.


  1. Great pics! And your steak looks very tasty!

  2. Thanks Scott… I thought it was good… The judges didn’t completely agree!

  3. Ah, there’s the rub (pun intended)….cooking judging is always a subjective thing and definitely one or two bite judging.

    I love your positive attitude about it and that you appreciate all of the positives you got to experience. Great job, Curt. Glad for you.

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