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Nov 24, 2012

Crafting Some Dinner and a Pie

Thanksgiving is a new holiday for me and I am still trying to get used to it. My first experience, 3 years ago, led to turkey on the kitchen floor before it ended up in sandwiches, soup, pasta, salad, and whatever else we were eating until the meat just started smelling weird. We don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Brazil and we typically reserve the turkey extravaganza for Christmas Eve. That being said, my husband and I decided we would always celebrate Thanksgiving with a culinary experiment, and be thankful for whatever comes out of it. 
This year, we went for a pan-fried sirloin steak with red wine butter sauce and olive oil mash - a recipe from our dusty Jamie Oliver book. I should explain that we never bought fresh beef before (it turns out belts have to be tight in the first few years of marriage) and therefore we felt that we had to teach ourselves all the do's and don'ts before going for the perfect cut. It's amazing how complex the subject can get. Anyways, we walked home from the butcher as proud owners of a nice 1 lb sirloin steak. 

My husband has a sweet tooth. Err.. many, actually. He gets away with it for being skinny, but it's common sense that eating half a gallon of ice cream in one sitting isn't the healthiest of habits. On Thanksgiving morning he gave me his big blue eyes smile and convinced me to make a rhubarb pie. I had no idea what rhubarb tasted like (I don't think we have it back home), but the bright pink color sure had me hooked. We made the shell from scratch, being advised by both Julia Child and my mother-in-law. Julia says if you want to be good at it, you've gotta make a pastry shell every day, so we were really crossing our fingers for some beginner's luck. 

Anyway, without further ado, here are the recipies, or at least how we understand them: 

Sirloin Steak with Red Wine Butter Sauce and Olive Oil Mash
  • 2 7oz boneless sirloin steaks (approx. 1in thick)
  • 2 potatoes (cut in approx. 1in pieces)
  • 2 shallots (finely diced)
  • leaves from a few sprigs of thyme
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • olive oil
  • pamesan cheese
Season both steaks with salt and pepper, brush with olive oil (don't forget to it on both sides!), and let them sit for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, boil the potatoes in a pot of water. 

Then, start pan-frying the steaks on high heat. First hold the ends of the steak with tongs (we improvised with forks) and brown the fat. Place the steaks on the pan, no oil necessary, as the fat acts as such. Also, don't let the steaks touch each other so that they will cook more evenly. For medium-rare cooked steaks, fry them for 8 minutes, flipping sides every minute. Once cooked, set the steaks aside to rest for about 5 minutes. 

So t's lacking presentation, but it sure tastes good!
Now, mash your soft-boiled potatoes with a big glug of olive oil and a handful of parmesan cheese. I would say that this is really up to your taste. Just keep adding olive oil and parmesan until you decide you like it.

On the same pan where you fried the steaks and (very important!) without cleaning it to take advantage of the flavour left by the steaks, add the shallots and thyme leaves and let the mixture cook on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Once the shallots are clear, add the red wine (preferebly something medium-bodied) and the juice that came out of the steaks while resting. Turn up the heat to reduce the sauce to half its initial volume. 

That's all! You should have beautiful pan-fried steaks and a delicious rich sauce to go with your yummy mash potatoes. With such a nice meal, maybe you'll choose to light some candles and pour yourselves some more of that red wine. Anyway, that's what we did. Enjoy it!

Rhubarb Pie 
  • White Sugar (1~1.5 cups)
  • Flour (quarter cup)
  • Cinnamon (a dash)
  • Nutmeg (a dash)
  • Salt (a pinch)
  • Eggs (3 - slightly beaten)
  • Rhubarb (6-8 cups chopped)
  • Butter (1-2 tablespoons cut into pieces)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix all the ingredients except the rhubarb together until everything appears homogeneous. Then, put the rhubarb in and make sure all of the pieces get covered in the mixture. The entire mix can then be placed in the pie crust which should have already been laid out in a pie pan.  Bake for 50-60 minutes.

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