Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's Dinner (aka Sat Fat Fiesta)

I seriously kicked some culinary ass on Valentine's Day this year. SERIOUSLY. I need to eat like a vegan for the next week to wear off all of the calories I consumed, but it was totally worth it.  So, this recipe is a little bit boonies friendly (I suppose anything that consists of essentially meat and potatoes can be easily made in the boonies, but I think the fact that the meat was so fresh and unfrozen made it a billion times better..).

I spent most of Valentine's Day home alone - I took a sick day, not so much because I was sick, but because I hoped that taking a day off would prevent me from becoming sick..  In the end, I probably ended up doing way more activity that I would normally do at work, but it all worked out.  I'm healthy, and I got to make a kick-ass Valentine's Day dinner that I probably wouldn't have had the time or energy to do otherwise.

My plan for Valentine's Day was to cook lamb - it's succulent, a little splurgy, very very tasty, and kind of romantic.  But, being in the boonies, I couldn't find a rack of lamb anywhere that wasn't frozen as hard as a brick.  So I deferred to steak.  I was inspired by the Cake Boss (of all people) - did you know he has another show called Kitchen Boss where he teaches you the recipes he makes at home?  I had no idea.  The things I miss out on by working all day!  Anyway, he was whipping up a fancy meal for his wife that consisted of pan-seared steak au poivre (peppersteak) with a creamy pan sauce.  I didn't pay enough attention to write down all the details, but when I my lamb-plans went awry I quickly fixated on that steak and did a little research. I think the recipe I came up with is a mix of about 3 recipes that I found online.  In the end, I went with a red wine pan sauce (made with dealcoholized wine because hubs doesn't drink) with garlic, balsamic vinegar and beef broth. Here are the basic steps.

1. Leave your steaks out for about 15 minutes so they are not ice cold when they go in the pan.  Generously salt them all over, then coat the top and bottom with fresh ground pepper. Press the pepper into the meat a bit so it sticks.  You really want to coat it good.

2. Over medium heat, melt about 1 tsp butter together with 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pan (I'm totally in love with the ceramic-coated non-stick fry pan that we got as a wedding gift - damn, it's fabulous!). Once the butter starts to turn golden (not brown!), add the steaks.  Don't try to squish them or cover them - just leave them be for at least 5 minutes (for rare) or up to 7 minutes (medium well) then flip them and repeat.  I'm not a steak guru - I went with 5 1/2 minutes on one side, and 7 on the other (I had thick steaks!) and they came out medium - just perfect. If you have doubts, I'm sure you can find a million references online for how long to cook steak.  The key is, DON'T SQUISH IT and don't flip it more than once.

3. When the steaks are done, put them on a plate and cover them with foil.  Add a couple of cloves of minced garlic into the remaining pan juices and saute until it gets nice and fragrant.  Add about 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and cook for about 2 minutes. Then add 1 tbsp of dry thyme, 1/2 c. red wine and 1/2 c. beef broth and reduce the mixture until it gets a little thick and coats a regular spoon.

4. Remove the sauce from the heat, and add about 2 tbsp of butter and stir until it melts and thickens.  Pour this delicious concoction over your steaks and serve immediately.  Seriously, I have never had better steak in my life.

I served this up with some roasted garlic mashed potatoes. I roasted a bulb of garlic for about 30 minutes (chop the top off, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil, roast at 400 F).  This could (and probably should) be done ahead of time so you're not burning your fingers trying to squeeze fiery hot garlic cloves into your mashed potatoes.

Boil up some potatoes as your normally would for mashed potatoes (chop into large cubes, boil in salted water until a fork easily pierces them). Squeeze the garlic cloves out of the bulb and into the drained potatoes. Add some milk and butter (I never measure this - butter gives flavor, milk makes it creamy.  Adjust amounts until it looks/tastes right to you). Mash together.  Add some chopped green onions or chives, if you like.

Serve up a mound of mashed potatoes, the steak and drizzle that pan sauce over both.  You will love me forever.

Oh yeah, and don't forget the green things!  How about peas? Frozen peas are usually easy to get in the boonies, and they cook up super fast.  Pour them into a steamer over 1" of water and steam for 5 minutes. Add more butter.

I don't have any photos of this glorious dinner because it was gone before you could say "Happy Valentine's Day", but let's just say it was very well received!

Now, go on a diet. :)

1 comment:

  1. Excellent recipe, fast up to date and yummy! I know how you can cook girl! Love your blog, passed it on via FB. Cheers,