Saturday, October 23, 2010

Basic Meat and Potatoes

Meat and Potatoes is something you just can't get enough of, and when done right, can be an example of simple perfection.

When I pick out a steak, I usually look for a pretty thick cut, with even marbling and a uniform shape.  Usually I like the New York cuts since I think they have more flavor, but this time I couldn't resist the Ribeye.  I cook most of my thick meats in the same fashion, a hard sear and finished in the oven.

An important tip to remember when cooking large cuts of meat is that you have to leave them out a bit before you're ready to cook them (20-30 minutes).  This ensures that the center of your meat is as close to room temperature and allows for even cooking.  Often you take meat out of the refrigerator and you get a cooked outside, and a cold center.  This helps prevent uneven cooking.

Season generously with salt and pepper (in general more seasoning is better on this thick cut)

So I sear the outside of the meat for about 2 minutes on each side, on a medium-high heat until you get a thick crust.  This makes for great texture and flavor.  It's important to sear evenly (which I didn't do this time, oops!) which means you have to spend the time to patiently sear both sides, instead of searing one side better than the other.  Throw the steak, in your oven safe pan into a 400F oven, for 13-14 minutes for a steak that's about 1.5-2 inches thick.  Pull the steak from the oven, and let the steak REST on a board (generally about 1/3 the time that you cooked for)....very important when you have large cuts to let the meat rest to let all the juices redistribute.

I make a pan gravy with the bits from the pan I seared the steak in (watch out for the handle of the pan to be extremely hot when making gravy).  Start with a medium heat and saute some shallots in the pan drippings until softened.   Add a few knobs of butter and equal parts flour to make a roux, and let this cook for a minute or so to cook out the flour taste.  Add beef broth and cream and bring to a boil while stirring.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.

Accompany with a side of mashed potatoes (finished through a ricer of course) that is seasoned with Parmesan Reggiano, salt and pepper, and some cream or milk.  Add chives as a garnish and you're set.

A crusty steak and creamy potatoes is one dinner you can keep coming back to, since there can be so many wonderful variations on this, but basic is always a winner when done right.  Master the basics, and you're well on your way to greatness.


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