Justice Neil Gorsuch’s steak rub is unconventional.
The Daily Caller News Foundation, a longtime friend of efforts to increase transparency at the Supreme Court, has launched an investigation in pursuit of the justice’s steak rub recipe, after Gorsuch declined to disclose the constituent parts of his secret concoction during an oral argument earlier this month.
The Supreme Court’s newest justice made reference to his secret rub during oral arguments Oct. 3 in Gill v. Whitford, a marquee case concerning the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering. Gorsuch used his rub as a vehicle by which to discuss the difficulty of establishing manageable standards for assessing the propriety of district maps.
In defending its legislative map, Wisconsin says, among other things, that the Court cannot establish effective metrics which show when gerrymanders are so partisan they become unlawful.
In the course of this exchange, Gorsuch revealed he uses turmeric in his rub, but expressly declined to name other ingredients.
Turmeric is common to Indian and Middle Eastern dishes like lentils and curries. It numbers among the more aromatic spices like cardamom, and is sometimes used as a substitute for saffron. Yellow in appearance and pungent in flavor, turmeric derives from India and Vietnam from the root of a leafy plant in the ginger family called the curcuma longa. The spice was recently buoyed to popularity in the West, given its wide range of health benefits.
Clifford Crooks, the culinary director for ESquared Hospitality, told TheDCNF that turmeric is not a natural candidate for a steak rub. ESquared Hospitality is the parent company to several well-known steakhouses, including BLT Steak and BLT Prime. Crooks was previously executive chef at BLT Steak New York and has appeared as a contestant and judge on several popular cooking programs, including “Top Chef.”
Crooks believes that the chemical properties of turmeric tenderize beef fairly quickly, stripping a steak of its fatty flavors.
“There is something in the structure of turmeric that reacts with black pepper and it essentially breaks down the lipides in flesh,” he told TheDCNF. “If you translate that into a beef rub, theoretically, you’re tenderizing your beef faster because it’s going after all the fat in the beef.”
He further explained that turmeric’s flavor profile would not pair naturally with beef.
“I wouldn’t pair it with a piece of beef because it really wouldn’t stand up,” he said. “It has light and floral properties.”
Crooks added that turmeric is most often used with pickled peppers, coriander, or star anise and is most appropriately used with seafood, poultry, and lamb.
The Supreme Court’s Public Information Office declined repeated requests for comment relating to this story. Other sources close to the justice with knowledge of his preferred grilling strategies also declined comment — one source told TheDCNF he was “sworn to secrecy.”
TheDCNF will publish more information as it becomes available.
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