“OK. I went a little crazy at the market today. Four pints ice cream, sweet potatoes, garlic scapes, radishes, mushrooms, strawberries and rhubarb…”
I think I may have swooned out loud at receiving this text message, and that does not happen every day. C’mon! Garlic scapes, farm fresh radishes, and local, handmade ice cream? My mind immediately went to the 2 pound cowboy ribeye steak we had thawing in his fridge. What? You say? We? We who? Whose fridge? Well kids, sometimes inspiration finds you when you least expect it. In my case he’s about 6′-1″ tall with goregeous blue eyes and a serious ice cream habit. He also has a love of farmers’ markets, playing in the kitchen, and all things absurd. Funny. Me too. On this particular Sunday morning, while I was running brunch at the restaurant, he took a stroll through the New Amsterdam Market and picked up a few things for us to play with for Sunday dinner.
Earlier that week, I received the heads up that beef prices were going up (again) so I quickly ordered us a beautiful sustainably raised ribeye from Painted Hills Ranch* in Wheeler County, Oregon. I brought it over only to find that my new friend did not have a cutting board big enough for me to butcher a 20 pound ribeye into steaks. Turns out his local is a New Zealand style pub, where he is friendly with the owner, who was more than happy to lend us a cutting board. After all was said and done, we were left holding a 2-rib standing roast and 5 cowboy steaks, each weighing in at about 2 pounds. I returned the cutting board, accompanied by one of the steaks, and added one happy Kiwi to my circle of friends. We vacuum sealed and popped the rest of the steaks in the freezer until we had an evening to enjoy one.
All week we looked forward to sharing one of those cowboys for Sunday dinner. I cooked it in a cast iron grill pan with nothing more than a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and even by itself the flavor of the steak was amazing. I couldn’t believe how good the little bits of fat on the edges of the steak tasted. Although the steak alone was delicious, the garlic scapes my new friend picked up at the farmers’ market inspired me to try a play on Argentine style chimichurri sauce. Substituting garlic scapes for regular garlic, gave the sauce a fresher, brighter flavor, which was the perfect complement to this fatty, lovingly raised piece of meat. Lovely peppery radishes did not get ignored either. They were the perfect addition to a steakhouse style chopped salad with toasted walnuts and home made blue cheese dressing!
Garlic Scape Chimichurri
It is important that the sauce stand for at least an hour in order for the flavors to develop before you serve it. When I first made the sauce it tasted really muted and watery. I set it aside while I prepared the rest of the meal and by the time I served it, the flavor of the sauce was completely different. Now we could taste all the herbs, the flavor of the garlic scapes, and the fruit of the olive oil. I added a little lemon and lime juice to brighten it up, but these should be added to taste, and you might find you may not even need it. The sauce will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.
INGREDIENTS: Yields about 1-1/2 to 2 cups
2 tsp. dried oregano, steeped in 1/4 c. hot water
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 garlic scape, minced
1 c. packed parsley leaves
1 c. packed cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (more or less, to taste)
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lime
1/2 c. good extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. of lemon juice
juice of 1 lime
1. In a food processor, combine garlic scape, parsley, and cilantro. Pulse until the herbs are evenly and finely chopped. You may also chop it all by hand if you don’t have a food processor.
2. Add oregano and water, salt, crushed red pepper, vinegar, and lemon and lime zest to the herb mixture. With the food processor running, pour the olive oil in through the feed tube. Alternatively you can whisk the oil into the mixture in a large mixing bowl. It is key that you use good olive oil here because the flavor will be apparent. Incorporate the oil quickly without whisking or processing too much or the oil will take on a bitter flavor.
3. Let the mixture stand for at least one hour. Before serving, add lemon and lime juice if needed, to taste.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
“…not too much kidney…just enough to give it that touch of bite…and lashings of steak, oooh, and it’s good steak too!…ooh.” – from Jeeves and Wooster, Season 1: The Hunger Strike.
Is it possible we watch way to much Jeeves and Wooster? Perhaps it’s a sign, that after the ‘teenth time of watching Tuppy Glossup describe Chef Anatole’s masterly Steak and Kidney Pie with such mouth watering anticipation, I finally needed to make one. In keeping with the spirit of Jeeves and Wooster, I decided to use a British recipe for Steak and Kidney pie, and remembered coming across a recipe in Hugh Fearnley Whittingsall’s River Cottage Meat Book. So I ordered some grass fed beef kidney and steak from Lewis Waite Farm, and finally had the chance last week to thaw them out and work on the pie.
The thing is this: When we made beef kidneys in culinary school, I could barely stand to taste them. Yet Tuppy Glossup and Mr. Whittingsall managed to convince me that Steak and Kidney pie could be truly delicious. Here I believe, was my first failure in judgment. My second, was perhaps getting frozen instead of fresh kidney. After thawing it out (properly, i.e. in the fridge), I took the kidney out of the package, and started trimming it. The center was still a little frozen, but as I continued to cut, it continued to thaw out. It also began to give off a distinct odor of piss. Not a strong odor, but it was there.
Is this normal? I thought. The kidney looked fresh (well I guess freshly frozen would be more accurate). It was brown on the outside with just some red coming through, and bright red in the center, just like the color photos in my copy of The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Cuisine. Then I remembered a passage in Julie Powell’s book (you know the one) in which she quotes her mother as saying “But kidneys taste like piss.” I stood there for a few minutes, knife in hand, just staring at the kidney on the cutting board. If it kind of smells like piss, I wondered, then what on earth will it taste like? With that, I swept everything off the cutting board into a plastic bag, tied it up and dumped it in the trash.
What then, you might ask, is depicted in the photo? Well, once I had my mind made up to make this pie, I couldn’t bring myself to abandon the plan. So I pulled that bag of kidney out of the trash, sorted out the good pieces from the scrap, and tried rinsing them – to no effect. Then, believe it or not, the kidney went back into bag, and the bag back into trash. Okay, I know how it sounds, fishing the bag out of the trash a yet again, but I was stubbornly held to my mission. I couldn’t even bear to throw the kidney directly into the trash. I consciously sealed it in the bag in case I changed my mind and wanted to fish it out again.
After overcoming that initial hurdle, there was no choice but to to see my plan through to the end. I sauteed up the kidneys, and as they cooked, their aroma became more bearable. They smelled pretty typical of cooked offal, like liver for example. This seemed like a positive development. So I pushed on and sauteed the steak, the onions, deglazed the pan with some red wine, and put everything back in the pot to stew for an hour and a half while I went to work on the pastry crust.
The River Cottage recipe calls for a rough puff pastry. I could have just used store bought puff pastry and made my life a little easier, but if there’s one thing you know about me, it’s that I like a good project. Puff pastry is made by folding a layer of dough around a block of butter, then rolling it out, and folding it up, like you would to stuff a letter into an envelope. Then you refrigerate it and roll and fold again. The process is repeated several times until you end up with layers and layers of butter and dough. When it bakes the steam in the butter causes the layers to expand and produce the familiar flaky pastry. With rough puff pastry, instead of folding the dough around the block of butter, all the ingredients are cut together as you would with pie dough, then rolled and folded as with puff pastry. It doesn’t bake up as flaky, but it makes a good pie crust.
When the stew filling was ready, I have to admit it still had that lingering odor. I hadn’t put much kidney into the pie, hoping that all the other flavors might help to dilute its potency. I tasted some of the steak and the gravy, and adjusted the seasoning. I still couldn’t bring myself to dig into the kidney, but the rest seemed alright. So I assembled the pie and popped it in the oven for another hour.
In the meantime I made some sourdough croutons, washed some heads of romaine lettuce and put together a quick Caesar salad. When the pie was ready, we popped Jeeves and Wooster into the DVD player, and sat down to eat. As soon as I cut into it, the pie released a big cloud of steam with the strong aroma of…kidney. I served us each a piece and it looked good. First I took a bite of steak, then a mushroom, but the first bite of kidney and I was done. Boyfriend winced after taking a bite of his pie, and couldn’t even take a second. We looked at each other across the table, then at the pie. It was a lot of work for something neither of us could stomach, and if I were ever to try it again (someone talk some sense into me please) it would have to be with super-super-fresh, straight-from-the-cow and still-covered-in-fat kidney. Now we just had to figure out what to do about dinner.
Oh well, I said. How about some steak fajitas?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to represent the restaurant at Chelsea Market’s NY Chilifest 2011. I along with representatives from our other two restaurants in our group, spent several hours ladling out some damn good chili and schmoozing away a Sunday afternoon. It was the first public cooking event I participated in and I had no idea what to expect. All the meat for the chili cookoff was provided by Dickson’s Farmstand Meats, and ticket proceeds were being used to support Food Systems NYC - both supporters of local and sustainable food production. Restrictions allowed three people from each restaurant to attend and serve their (hopefully) award-winning chili to 1200 people, and promote their restaurant. One of the tricky things was how to transport 50 gallons of hot chili to the event and keep it warm on only two small hot plates. The solutions were as varied as the chilis. One of our neighbors even brought their own electric steam tables and trays, only to find that there was no access to power – only butane.
The event started at 4pm and for the first couple of hours there was just a sea of people stopping from table to table, chili mug in one hand and a beer in the other. There were television people there, filming, and asking each team to describe their chili. There were also a host of photographers, one of whom stopped me at one point, saying “that’s perfect, don’t move.” At another moment, I turned around to find a mic in my face and a video camera pointed at me. My cohorts had thrown me to the wolves. Here I was, having had nothing to do with preparing our chili, yet now being asked by a reporter to describe it. I am sure during the course of this event, I did or said something dumb that is somehow going to end up in print with my real name attached to it. Oh well.
By the time two hours had elapsed, even the most hearty looking chili-eater was passing our table by, putting a hand over his stomach and gesturing that he could eat no more. And at 6:30 the judges had made their decision and announced the winner of the competition. Unfortunately the judges did not award us the Golden Chili Mug, but we got a good response from the public, and our chili was pretty much gone, so we took the chance to sample some of our competition. There was everything from Texas style “bowl of red,” sans beans, to very traditional Mexican style chili, to more unexpected and modern “chef” interpretations. Of course, Fette Sau, a barbecue joint located in Williamsburg added some pork to their chili, and Telepan presented a green chili that contained kernels of hominy. Even the Food Network test kitchen had a table. The aroma of beef, chiles, and spices from the various tables lingered throughout the concourse at Chelsea market. I could only imagine the aroma that could very well follow as 1200 people digested the 20-30 ounces of chili served to them by all the restaurants, and all the beer provided by Brooklyn Brewery. Once our chili-pot was empty, we certainly didn’t stick around long enough to find out.
Since I didn’t actually participate in the chili-making for the event (credit goes to my executive chef and his team at my former restaurant), I have been meaning to put up a big pot of red chili for me and the old boyfriend. After some hectic days at the restaurant following the departure of the Hulk, and gearing up for Valentine’s Day, I finally had a day off. So last night I thawed out 2 lbs. of Manx Station Farms grass fed steak I had knocking about my freezer (from Basis Foods, of course) and made a pot of slow cooked steak chili. I often make a chili with spicy chorizo, chipotle peppers, and mole style spices. But this time I decided to keep it simple and go with a basic American style chili: red and black beans, tomatoes, onions, red bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne. Okay, so I did add a little cocoa powder at the end for some richness, but just a little. We enjoyed it in front of the tube, watching one of our more recently discovered favorite movies: Jeff Daniels’ Escanoba in da Moonlight. In case you haven’t seen it, think The Hangover, meets Parenthood but better.
Grassfed Steak Chili
2 lbs. grass fed (or whatever) steak, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 red bell peppers
1/4 c. chili powder
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
14 oz. cooked black beans
14 oz. cooked red kidney beans
28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
salt and black pepper to taste
1. Coat the bottom of a large dutch oven with oil and cook the onions and red pepper with the spices over medium low heat until soft. Add the tomato paste and garlic and cook for a few seconds until the garlic is fragrant.
2. Add the meat and cook until it is no longer pink. Add the beans and tomatoes, and enough water to cover all the ingredients. Simmer gently, covered for 45 minutes, then uncovered for another 45 minutes. until the meat is very tender. Stir in the cocoa powder and add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Serve garnished with sour cream or grated monterey jack cheese and sliced green onions.
TIP: Chili, like stew always tastes better the next day, after all the flavors have had a chance to mingle.
Try this with : Maple Glazed CornbreadRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )