Who knew that such a larger-than-life state had mastered the art of small-town charm? For Chef Michael Fojtasek (Olamaie, Austin), it’s all part of the Texan experience. When you’re here, it’s best to cook for a crowd for when they show up. The show-stopping cut up for that particular task is none other than the strip loin, slow-cooked and reverse-seared. It’s a centerpiece that requires a little patience and finesse, but the payoff is immediate—guests have a hard time hiding their delight when it hits the table. Pair it with some bright greens and boom: now you’re everyone’s favorite neighbor.
"Hospitality and friendliness are the qualities that I believe are inherent in this state."
“Get the best beef you can,” says Fojtasek. “Tie that beef with twine. Cook with a thermometer. Let it rest, then let it rest some more. Don't forget the fat is where lots of the flavor is—don't push it to the side. Enjoy it!”
In this state, family is as many people as you can fit around the table.
Expect only the best from Michael Fojtasek’s kitchen at Olamaie, the Austin restaurant that makes diners straight-up weep with its stunning takes on Southern staples. Olamaie, so named for the women in his family, is firmly rooted in Texas traditions, and Fojtasek’s quiet patience allows his food to develop to its fullest potential.
Fojtasek’s style, as he sees it, is built around his relationships with local farmers and purveyors—his sous chef says it’s beef and butter. Somewhere in the middle is Olamaie’s elegant, bright vision of the modern South: refined, deeply flavorful, and inspired by what came before.
This technique takes some time. If you’re patient and pay attention, you will be rewarded with some of the best beef you have ever experienced.
I believe there are two essential ingredients and one critical tool for success when executing this recipe. They say you’re only as good as your ingredients. Do not skimp on the most important ingredient: beef. At Olamaie, we use the highest quality products we can find—this one is a Mishima Wagyu strip loin from Strube Ranch in Pittsburg, Texas. (It’s easy to believe you’ll be great when you cook with Texas Beef from Strube Ranch.)
The second essential ingredient is salt. A good kosher or flaky sea salt will do the trick wonderfully. Lastly, a carpenter would not work without a ruler, so, don’t cook this beef without a meat thermometer. I’ve cooked whole strip loins and rib eyes for almost twenty years. A thermometer is the key to success. If you have these three variables locked down, you will be successful and cook like a pro.
Cooking beef in this style takes some time. You don’t have to stand over it, but you do need to be present for some key moments.
First, take the beef out of the refrigerator at least two hours before you plan to cook. Whole strip loins weigh between 13 and 16 pounds, so it’s going to take some time for the beef to temper. Cooking most proteins from ambient temperature will give the best result. While you’re waiting, use your knife to remove the silver skin or connective tissues, then tie butcher’s twine with a butcher’s knot across the meat width-wise every two to three inches. (If you don’t know the knot, there are good demonstrations on YouTube.) 45 minutes before cooking, set your oven to 225°.
Season the strip loin liberally with salt. Don’t be afraid of the salt; it’s a big piece of beef. Place the strip in a large roasting pan or on a baking pan with a rack.
About an hour in, check the internal temperature to know how fast the strip is moving along. Let it cook another 45 minutes, and check temperature again. At this point, you want to check the beef more often. When it reaches 115° internal temperature, pull it out of the oven.
I like to let it rest 45 minutes to an hour at this point. Turn your oven as high as it will go with convection—500° is great. If you’re cooking other items to accompany this beautiful piece of meat, now is a good time to get all that lined up.
Once rested, place the beef back in the super hot oven. Keep a close eye on it. All you are trying to achieve is a nice dark crust on the outside, which usually takes anywhere from 10-20 minutes. Once the exterior of the beef is a nice mahogany, pull it out of the oven.
Transfer to a cutting board. Count your guests; slice accordingly. I like to finish the beef with flaked sea salt and a little Texas Olive Oil.
“Get the best beef you can,” says Fojtasek. “Tie that beef with twine. Cook with a thermometer. Let it rest, then let it rest some more. Don’t forget the fat is where lots of the flavor is—don’t push it to the side. Enjoy it!”