Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Steak with Mushroom-Wine Sauce

I love red meat, especially steak.  Luckily, I found some NY Strip steaks at a local farmers' market.  These were from a local herd of grass-fed beef -- wonderful!

Cooking a steak at home is relatively straightforward.  First, pick a good looking cut of meat with a bit of marbling.  This will help ensure that it is tender and juicy.  But even a lean cut of beef like London Broil or round steak will make a good meal if you don’t overcook the meat.  The greatest helper in cooking a good steak is a good meat thermometer.  You want to make sure that you cook your steak from rare to medium, depending on your preferences.  If you want a steak well done, I would suggest you just eat a piece of charcoal.  It tastes the same and it’s cheaper.

The internal temperature of the steak you are cooking should be 135° for rare up to 150° for medium.  Remember, make sure the tip of the thermometer is in the thickest part of the meat (and not touching a bone or a the pan) for the most accurate measurement.  Once it gets the level of doneness you want, take it out of the oven or off the heat and let it “rest” for five minutes.  During that time, the meat will actually continue to cook and get to the 140° for rare to 160° for medium.  Waiting the five minutes before you slice the steak will also help the meat retain its juices and present a much more appealing and tasty steak.

To ensure proper cooking temperature, you should remove the steak from the refrigerator at least one hour, preferably two hours, before you plan on cooking it so the steak is at room temperature.  Room temperature meat won’t kill you – this isn’t the 18th century.  Room temperature steak cooks more evenly.  You don’t run into the problem where the outside of the steak is burnt while the inside is still raw.

2 NY Strip bone-in steaks
1 lb Mushrooms, sliced
8 T Butter
1 c Red wine
1 Lemon
1 Clove garlic
1 T Worchester sauce
Kosher salt
Fresh, ground black pepper

1.  About an hour before preparing the steak, make your mushroom wine sauce.  Wash and slice a pound of mushrooms.  Place them in a skillet with a stick of butter – yes, a whole stick; this is a sauce – over medium-high heat.  Cook until most of the water has gone from the mushrooms but before they’ve begun to brown (a little browning is fine).

2.  Pour in the red wine (remember, never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink – I used a Merlot), the juice of half a lemon, one glove of garlic (smashed and diced), a tablespoon of Worchester sauce, and a few twists of the pepper mill.

3.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for an hour.  This will reduce the liquid and make a sweet and savory sauce for your steaks.

4. About a half hour before you plan on cooking the steaks, season the steaks with salt and pepper on both sides.  If you salt the steak too early, it will lose too much water and become tough.  About ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt and several twists of the pepper mill per steak should suffice.  Using a meat tenderizer, well, ... tenderize both sides of the steak.  If you don’t have a meat tenderizer, use a fork.

5.  There are two ways to cook a steak.  The “Pittsburgh method” uses a cast iron skillet.  This is a particularly good method for thin steaks.  Place a tablespoon of butter in the skillet and turn the heat almost as high as it will go.  When the butter has melted, sear the steak for one to one-and-a-half minutes on both sides.  This will sear in the juices and create a very tender steak.  Turn the heat down to medium low and cook the steak for about two to three minutes a side, check the temperature, and repeat as necessary to reach the level of doneness you want.  This may take four to twelve minutes more, depending on the thickness of the steak and the doneness you want.

6.  The second way to cook a steak at home is to broil it.  Place a rack in the top position in the oven.  Spray a broiler pan with Pam to help keep the meat from sticking.  If you don’t have a broiler pan, don’t try this method.  The broiler will heat to 500° which will warp a cookie sheet; the steak will also cook poorly on a cookie sheet.  Broil on one side for five minutes and for three to four minutes on the other side (depending on the thickness of the steak and the doneness you want).

7.  Remember, take the steak off the heat or out of the oven just before it reaches the internal temperature you want.  Let the steak sit for five minutes.

8. Plate the steak and spoon generous portions of the mushroom-wine sauce over the steaks.

9.  A full-bodied red wine pairs best with this.  Not surprisingly, I had the Merlot that went into the mushroom-wine sauce.

I served this with Brabant potatoes.  These are surprisingly tasty given how straightforward they are to make.

Brabant potatoes

4 Baking potatoes
4 c Cooking oil (canola, peanut, whatever you like; do not use olive oil to deep fry because it can’t take the high temperatures)
Kosher salt

1.  Peel and clean the potatoes.

2.  Cut into cubes ¼ inch on a side.

3.  Place in a large pot of slightly salted water (salting the water makes the water boil at a higher temperature – it does not make the water boil sooner) for 4-5 minutes.

4.  Drain and pat dry the parboiled potatoes on paper towel.

5.  Deep fry in batches (depending on the size of your deep fryer) at 375°.  If you don’t have a deep fryer, you can cook them in a big pot on a stove, leaving several inches between the top of the oil and the lip of the pot.  Be very careful, especially if you’re using a gas stove.  If you put too many potatoes in the oil all at once, the oil could boil over and cause a fire.  If you’re cooking on top of the stove, you will need a thermometer to determine when the oil is hot enough.  If you don’t have a thermometer, after the oil has been heating for a few minutes and you can see little eddies swirling through the oil, wad up a small piece of bread (about ¼ on a side) and drop into the oil.  If it immediately pops up to the surface and starts cooking and bubbling, the oil is hot enough to cook.

6.  After the potatoes turn golden brown (about 5 minutes or so), remove from the oil with a slotted spoon or a strainer that has a handle, drain on paper towels, and salt.  If you’re going to season food, it’s best to do it right after it’s done cooking to ensure that the seasoning, in this case salt, gets drawn into the food.

7.  I made the potatoes just before I put the steak in the oven to broil.

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