What's Cooking? 5

Char Bar 7 Turns Up The Heat

If you’re a barbecue lover, now is the most wonderful time of the year. Summer is the season to bust out the grill and fire up all of your favorites for the family — or at least enjoy the cooking of your loved ones! While there’s nothing quite like barbecuing at home, Asheville has a great new restaurant to satisfy your love of grilled food, even when things are a bit cooler outside. The recently-opened Char Bar 7 is sure to become the go-to spot for those who love steaks and burgers along with lighter fare prepared expertly on a grill. Their mouthwatering menu may even inspire you to try experiment with a few new items at home.

Chef Brian Hockman says that one of his favorite things to cook is their classic smokehouse burger. Loaded with cheddar, bacon, fried onion straws and Char Bar 7’s special sauce, you can’t go wrong with this hearty dish. Adventurous eaters will want to check out their PB&J burger. This oddball item includes a creamy peanut butter and grape jelly along with a beef patty and bacon on an English muffin. Originally conceived as a joke, Brian notes that it “just took off and stuck,” and has since become a staple menu item.

Brian has been honing his grill skills for years, and has a few words of advice to those beginning to experiment with their own grills at home: “People have a tendency to cook over too much heat,” he says. “Of course, it depends on what kind of meat you’re cooking, but people just cook things to death. My recommendation is to turn down the heat and cook things a bit less than you normally would; it keeps flavors and juices in.” And though he’s a steak-and-burgers guy, Brian knows how to keep herbivores happy. For an excellent veg-friendly meal on the barbecue, he recommends a Mediterranean-style sandwich with grilled squash, red peppers and focaccia bread along with feta cheese and balsamic dressing.

Char Bar 7 has quickly been gaining popularity, and it looks like the momentum is only going to build. They plan to introduce catering by the end of the summer (just in time for football season!) and are beginning to experiment with pairing some of their delectable items with Asheville’s famous craft beers. Meanwhile, the feeling of the restaurant is posh and uplifting, though far from pretentious; even if you love to grill at home, their tasteful surroundings make for an excellent culinary escape. Though an evening at Char Bar 7 is a great way to celebrate summer, it’s sure to become a favorite year-round.

Brian’s Recipe for Grilled Hickory Nut Farms NY Strip Steak with Sherried Shiitake Ragout

For the Dry Rub:

1 Tsp Kosher Salt

½ Tsp Black Pepper

¼ Tsp Granulated Garlic

For the Ragout:

1 Tbl Olive Oil

1 Cup Shiitake Mushrooms, de-stemmed and sliced

1/2 Cup Grape or Cherry Tomatoes, Halved

2 Tbl Yellow Onion, Diced

¼ Cup Sherry Wine

½ Tsp Fresh Rosemary, Chopped

½ Tsp Fresh Garlic, Chopped

4:1 Ratio of Kosher Salt and White Pepper Blend

Rub both sides of the steak with dry rub, and place on the grill with med-high heat. Meanwhile heat olive oil in a sautee pan over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until tender, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms, garlic, and wine, and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add rosemary and cherry tomatoes, and toss until thoroughly heated, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour mushroom ragout over steak and enjoy

Notes:

I use Hickory Nut Farms Steak for this recipe because their 100% grass-fed beef imparts a distinct taste, almost bordering on the flavor of wild game.  I use a simple rub to enhance those flavors rather than mask them. The ragout was chosen for the combination of earthy, yet light flavors that compliment the robustness of the meat. Ragouts can be made with nearly any combination vegetables, so feel free to experiment! The sherry wine can also be replaced by Marsala, or other similarly sweet wine. Drier red wines tend to compete with the flavor of the meat, but if that’s what you have on hand, then go for it! A splash of balsamic vinegar can also be substituted for the wine that will give the meal an even more earthy base to it. Also feel free to experiment with the fresh herbs of your choice. Enjoy!