In 1866, Charles Goodnight was concerned about his cowboys. The trail was long and hard, and a cowboy could only carry so much food in his saddlebags and the food that was carried could not satisfy any kind of hunger. Goodnight knew the importance of a good meal (not to mention how much harder a well fed cowboy would work) so he bought a surplus army wagon, added shelves, and installed all the essential needs to cook on the trail. He even designed the back to include a hinged box that could unfold to become a cook’s worktable. At the time, “chuck” was cowboy slang for food, thus, the Chuck Wagon was born.
Today is Charles Goodnight’s 175th birthday. In honor of his day, I developed a spice rub that I hope would make him proud. All of the spices I used were commonly found on the trail or spices that any chuck wagon cook would have at hand. And although asparagus is not grown in Texas, Mexico is one of the world’s largest exporters. I figure it’s close enough.
Happy Birthday Chuck!
- 2 tsp chile powder
- 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp fresh ground coffee (not instant)
- 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 lb sirloin steak
- 1 lb asparagus
- 1 tbsp grated pecorino-romano cheese
- Melted onions (for garnish, optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the first 7 ingredients to form your dry rub.
2. Pat the steak dry with paper towels. Drizzle olive oil over the steak and rub it in with your hands. Then do the same with the rub mixture. Let the steak sit on your counter for 30 minutes. This will allow the steak to absorb the flavors of the rub and bring the meat up to room temperature.
Note: If you put a cold steak on a hot grill pan, it will cook unevenly and lose flavorful juices.
3. Cut the woody ends of the asparagus and spread out on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt lightly. Place in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes until the asparagus is cooked through. A good test is to try and pierce an asparagus stalk with a fork. If there is no resistance, the asparagus is done.
4. While the asparagus is cooking, heat a grill pan over high heat. When smoking hot, place the steak on the pan for 5 minutes. Flip and continue cooking for additional five minutes to cook to medium. Remove from the pan and set on a cutting board for 10 minutes. This will allow the juices to redistribute. If you cut the steak too early, it will bleed and dry out.
5. Remove the asparagus from the oven and sprinkle the cheese on top.
6. When the steak has properly rested, cut against the grain on the bias into strips. Serve topped with melted onions and asparagus on the side.
Note: The sweet flavor of the melted onion pairs beautifully with the spicy coffee flavor of the steak. If you forego this, serve with a nice steak sauce or a round of goat cheese.
Roasted asparagus is wonderfully versatile and will absorb any seasoning you put on it. If you are trying to watch your calorie and/or fat intake, squeeze lemon juice on top and sprinkle with a little salt before roasting. After you pull it out of the oven, top with lemon zest instead of cheese.