Friday, November 30, 2007

Beefing Things Up

Despite all my ranting about pork, it's actually not the love of my life. No, pork is in fact not only the other white meat, but also the other man. That's right, I've been cheating. Cheating, on my one true love--beef. Yup, I'm a cheater. I don't know what made me do it. Is it because pork belly is so in vogue? Could all of the new BBQ places in NYC have gone to my head? Have I been watching too much Paula Dean?

But I promise, it's over. Things have changed--I've changed. I've come to my senses. I can see clearly, and as such, I've crawled back to my man--and not just because I'm anemic and could use the iron. That's right, beef and I have made up, and if my dinner last night is any indication, our rekindled romance is a success. It all started with a handsome piece of organic beef we'll call Chuck. It was just under a pound and perfect for grilling and thinly slicing. Usually I'm not a fan of dressing up steaks in sauces and marinades, but with this kind of cut I think it's a nice touch.

Okay, enough of the man metaphor--let's talk food. I made up a really tasty sweet marinade using a very odd combination of ingredients that I love and tossed it in a ziplock bag with the steak. You can use this method with any nice thick cut of beef, slice it thinly across the grain, and plate it up over almost anything. Really! White bean puree, lentils, green salad, creamed spinach, white rice (brown rice), couscous, whatever. There are many, many options. I chose a nice creamy, cheesy polenta because I love it, and because I thought it would look nice on the plate with the lovely pink, medium rare steak.

This can be a very impressive meal, especially if you're entertaining. If you think about it, what impresses a crowd more than a large piece of meat or fowl roasted or grilled and sliced at the table? Nothing! These are in fact the easiest things to make, but most people don't know that! And if you plate it up nicely, well, you better get the laundry basket out because their socks will be knocked off. Okay, that was bad, but you get the point. For garnish, I kept a spoonful or so of the marinade (that I didn't mix in with the meat) and just drizzled it over the top with some cheese and parsley. I really think you should give it a try, especially for a crowd. Here's how:

Honey Chipotle Steak with Pecorino Polenta

1 lb flat-iron steak (any steak about 1 inch thick will do)


1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp sweet soy (I use Kecap Manis)
2 tsp chipotle hot sauce or adobo
2 tsp honey
2 tsp vinegar
2 tsp olive oil (regular, not extra virgin)
1/2 Tbsp paprika
1/4 tsp cumin


1/2 cup polenta
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (not tomato based)
1 1/2 cups water
3 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup Pecorino Romano (Parmesan would work too)

1. Mix all of the ingredients for the marinade in a ziplock bag and add the steak. Make sure the steak is well coated and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

2. Bring the water and stock for polenta to a boil in a pot or pan. Slowly stream in the polenta, stirring with a whisk while you do so. Lower the heat and bring to a slow simmer, stirring often.

3. While the polenta cooks (it'll take about 20-25 minutes) heat up a grill pan for the steak. Remove steak from the ziplock and pat it somewhat dry (you don't want it to boil in the marinade liquid, you want a sear). Lightly salt both sides and drizzle with light olive or vegetable oil and grill until your desired doneness.

4. Remove steak to a cutting board and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes (consider carryover cooking when removing from pan).

5. Remove polenta from heat and add butter and cheese. Stir until combined and plate with the steak, thinly sliced across the grain. Garnish with cheese, parsley, and extra marinade. Enjoy!


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