01 May 2008

Birthday Steak Out

I have a few posts waiting to go but I think I need to start at the beginning, last Thursday, Zach's birthday. Everything will make so much more sense if I go from there. So, last Thursday, Zach's birthday. I wanted to make him steak for dinner as it's one of his favorite things and he doesn't have the chance to have it very often. I had everything planned out- a lovely fillet in the fridge, a sack of potatoes for mashing and I stopped at the grocery store on the way home to pick up some fresh asparagus and blue cheese (since another of Zach's favorite things is blue cheese butter on steak). When I got home, I set about to mashing the blue cheese and butter together (equal parts of each) so it would have time to rest, prepped the asparagus and cut the potatoes and then it hit me- I had never in my life cooked a steak and had no idea how to do it.

I had some vague idea that I would use my grill pan but then when I actually thought about it I realized that slapping a 2 inch thick piece of meat on the grill would probably result in A) overcooked meat or B) a raw steak with slightly charred crust. Since neither of those options was exactly what I was looking for I turned to the cookbook library (in reality I was a little frantic at this point) and Alton Brown's I'm Just Here for the Food. I was still intent on using the grill pan, but then I happened to flip to the searing section of the book and read Alton Brown's description of a butterflied and seared steak with blue cheese butter smeared on the center- bingo, we have a winner.

I very carefully cut the fillet nearly in half to open it up (like a book) and rubbed on a tiny bit of vegetable oil, then sprinkled it with salt and pepper. While the steak rested (it had been out of the fridge for about 20 minutes at this point) I got out the cast iron skillet, poured in just enough oil to coat the bottom and turned it on to high. I waited for the oil to shimmer and then I dropped in the steak (and should have used my spatula to press it down to ensure good pan contact and good browning) and let it cook for about a minute then flipped it over (again should have used the spatula to ensure good pan contact) and cook the second side for about a minute and a half. The steak had a little rest under a foil tent while I tried to arrange the asparagus and potatoes artfully on the plate (by the photo you can see how well that one went) and spread the blue cheese butter on the center and closed the steak up again.

It was definitely not the prettiest dinner ever but Zach really liked it. The meat was seared on the outside but still medium rare on the inside. I wasn't planning on having any at all, since it was Zach's birthday treat (and I'm really not much of a steak person) but it looked so good I had to ask for a bite (one without much blue cheese as I don't really like it). It tender and and the slightly crisp seared bits added another layer of flavor and texture. I can even see how the earthiness of the blue cheese (I was trying to think of a nicer way to say 'gym socky taste') can enhance the flavor of the meat. Next time I will definitely try to get a better sear though as it would really add to the flavor.


kat said...

Yeah, I leave the steak cooking to Matt & he does a fabulous job at it, I don't know why I find it intimidating.

Jen said...

Kat- I know what you mean- a piece of steak does seem intimidating somehow. I'm now sort of confident that I can cook one, but it's still a bit nerve-wracking.