Friday, April 20, 2012

When Only Beef Will Satisfy


Most meals in our household can be classified as vegetarian or pescatarian.  In a typical week’s worth of dinners, we might have four vegetarian meals, two seafood meals, and meat (white or red) typically only once, at most twice, a week—and usually on a Sunday when we cook up a special supper.

But, there are those times when beef is intensely satisfying—even with all these recent associations red meat has with an unhealthy diet.  As Will says, going vegetarian is fine...until you smell your next door neighbor grilling up some steaks.  Then the inner caveman arises and does battle with the 21st century health-conscious palate.

To enjoy our meat more wisely, we have decided to emulate Italians in their beef-eating ways: eat meat rarely but use top-notch ingredients when you do indulge.  Many chefs are quoted saying now that they would rather eat one (expensive) dinner of free-range organic meat than to eat a whole week's worth of (cheaper) ground burgers and hotdogs.  The rest of the time, I’d happily consume well-prepared fish, pasta or grain dish—or even an especially unique main course salad.

So, when only beef will satisfy our appetite, we have some go-to recipes and preparations:

Beefsteak Florentine with Garlic and Herbs:


Essentially, you salt and pepper a really stellar hunk of meat, let it come to room temperature before chargrilling it medium rare, and then douse it with Extra Virgin olive oil, crushed or slivered garlic and your choice of herbs (rosemary is usually a must with us).  Here is a simple Food & Wine recipe (click here: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/florentine-beefsteak) or you can click here for Steven Raichlen’s grilled porterhouse recipe (click here for recipe: http://abreiden.wordpress.com/2007/06/24/porterhouse-steak-new-potatoes-and-fresh-peas/).

We grilled a 2-inch thick bone-in ribeye in the picture above, though we probably got the best results when we used a dry-aged cowboy cut ribeye that we got from Gene’s Sausage, a butcher shop in Lincoln Squre.  We use the herbs suggested by Steven Raichlen, but we increase the amount a bit since we like to dip pieces of steak in the olive oil swimming with garlic and herbs (and meat juices).

Oven-Roasted Filet Mignon with Roquefort-Chive Cream Sauce:

For well-marbled and great fatty flavor, we like ribeyes the best.  For tenderness and an easy way to impress guests, filet mignons do not disappoint.   Ina Garten (of the Barefoot Contessa fame) has a can’t-miss recipe (click here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/steakhouse-steaks-recipe/index.html).  There are over 250 reviews for this recipe on the Food Network website so far, and the “average” rating is a solid 5 starts (out of 5).  How can one miss when using some of the most expensive ingredients possible?: filet mignon, Roquefort cheese, cream, etc. 

Basically, you pan-sear your steaks for a few minutes so that all sides are browned, then slip the pan in a 400 degree oven until the steaks are cooked to your taste.  For the sauce, you can definitely substitute another blue cheese you have around (Gorgonzola, Danish Blue, or even Stilton), but I would stick with tenderloins for the steak itself.  I don’t find that steak cuts like ribeyes, porterhouses, T-bones, or New York strip necessarily complement a creamy sauce as well.  Many will also say that steaks do not need any sauce whatsoever.


And, yes, I would definitely serve some mashed potatoes on the side to sop up additional cream sauce.  The other side dish pictured (at top) is oyster mushrooms sautéed with butter, olive oil, and garlic, then finished with a little white wine, soy sauce, and minced rosemary and chopped parsley for garnish.  It’s a favorite mushroom preparation in our household.


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