Friday, February 1, 2008

Raising the Steaks and Waking the Dead

As those of you who have been reading this blog for a while may remember, I'm a big fan of entertaining with meaty dishes like thinly sliced flatiron steak. I generally serve it over a bed of mixed greens, and drizzled with a luscious red wine reduction or, over cheesy, rich polenta and Parmesan shavings. The problem with entertaining in this fashion is that even though it's hearty, affordable, and great for a cold winter's day, you need to take your surroundings into account. My problem? Low lighting and the narcoleptic sofa. It is a well-known fact among many of my friends that dining at my house is (evidently) such a relaxing and delicious affair that mere minutes after eating...they fall asleep on the couch. This has happened not once, not twice, but dozens of times over the last few years.

Let's take my dinner this past Wednesday as the most recent example. My best friend Gloria and I made the above pictured dish--grilled flatiron steak over bibb lettuce with a shallot and grapefruit vinaigrette. We discussed the dish and started prepping the salad while sipping on a delicious bottle of red wine, courtesy of Gloria, my favorite and most trusted oenophile. Soon we were setting up lighting to shoot the dish--my thanks again to Gloria (who unlike myself is an awesome photographer by trade), for shooting the lovely photos. Then we grilled the steak, let it rest, thinly sliced it, and chowed down in front of the TV (my kitchen table is a bit cramped). We still had a few minutes left before Law & Order started (don't judge us) so we ate a few cookies and popped in a DVD to kill time before the show. Half an hour later I was laughing hysterically to myself with my dinner companion fast asleep next to me--as usual. After the DVD ended I dismantled the lighting equipment, took care of a few dishes and uploaded photos of the night's meal. All of this happened within just a few square feet and still not a peep from Gloria. The show finally started, but not even my best wake-up moves could rouse her from her deep sleep.

This has been the scene in my home for years. Even in my poorest of early days I have always cooked with friends and invested in a comfy couch (I watch a lot of TV). My dilemnma now is this: Is it the food? Is it the couch? Or is it me? It's probably not that last one--I'm highly entertaining, and I juggle. Enough said. My guess is that it's most likely a little of everything, and that especially after a long day at work, a hearty meal and a few glasses of wine would knock almost anyone out. In the end though, I suppose I take it as a great compliment that people are so at ease in my home and at my table. If I can bring the people I care about even a moment of relaxation and peace, I'm the better for it. Here's how to knock out your friends with this meal :)

Grilled Flatiron steak with Bib Lettuce and Shallot-Grapefruit Vinaigrette

1 Flatiron steak, about 1 to 1 1/2 lbs
1 head of Boston bibb lettuce, washed and dried, leaves left whole
3 Tbsp good extra virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp sour cream
1/2 a grapefruit cut into supremes (wedges) or 1 container peeled and chopped grapefruit

1. To prepare the dressing, combine the olive oil, shallot, sour cream, lemon and limes juices in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. Salt and pepper the steak and cook on a grill or grill pan on high heat until your desired doneness (I'd wouldn't go more than medium or medium well for this cut of meat--I do medium rare). Set meat aside on a cutting board to rest and lightly cover with foil, about 7-10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, combine the lettuce, dressing (reserving a tablespoon or two) and grapefruit in a large bowl, tossing to coat. Create a bed of salad on your srving plate and set aside.

4. When the meat is done resting, thinly slice it across the grain and set on top of the salad. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and a bit of extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!


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