Welcome to my world!

I've developed a passion for cooking since childhood, but in the past six years, that passion has grown into a geeky obsession. I love cooking, baking, and most importantly, sharing the love of food with family and friends. I invite you along on my journey of food discovery and passion.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

An Updated (and easy) French Classic = Rockin' Good Date Meal

We absolutely love a good steak meal, but unless a special occasion comes up, we don't like spending $100+ at a fancy place.  A great twist (and weeknight friendly take) on a fancy meal is the French classic steak frites, which is just a another way of saying steak and french fries.   There's also another classic (and very tasty) French dish steak au poive that combines a pan-sauteed steak with a brandy, peppercorn, and cream sauce.

I'm not saying steak with "fries" will be a 30-minute meal.  It did take about an hour with prep, but for a special date night in, you can make the meal (with prime-grade beef!) for about $30 (all ingredients included).  For those not familiar with grades of beef, prime is the best and the grade most often used by fine steakhouses.  Some fancier grocery stores do carry this, and I purchased mine at the local grocery store.  It's about $25 per pound, but with two 6-oz steaks, it came to about $20.  Choice is the most common grade available at grocery stores and still is tasty (and less expensive).

The rest of the meal is fairly inexpensive - parsley, thyme, rosemary (can use dried thyme and rosemary from your pantry), 1/2 lb of mushrooms, 2 russet potatoes, a little beef stock, butter, black pepper, and heavy cream.  The only other "special" ingredients are a little cognac (you can substitute sherry in a pinch) and veal demi-glace (more on that later including a substitute).  And again, if you go to a steak restaurant, a fancy meal with steak, potato, and side dish will easily run $30 or more per person.  Even with the "fancy" ingredients, this costs less than half of that.  While I've made a pretty lengthy description and set of instructions, this is for 3 recipes and it's so that everything will come together at the same time to serve.  Happy eating!

Yummy good!
Tips and Tricks:
- Buy pre-sliced mushrooms to save on prep time (I use a mix of baby portabella and white button mushrooms)
- Veal demi-glace is found in the frozen foods section of many grocery stores and usually comes in 1/2 cup portions.  If you can't find it, or don't want to spend the money, boil down 1 cup of beef stock to 1/2 cup, then add a slurry made with 1 tsp corn starch and 2 Tbsp cold water
- Take the steaks out of the fridge and season with salt and pepper before you start making the mushrooms.  They will be ready to go when you are
- To cut potatoes, slice them in half long-ways, then slice in half again, then slice those in half again (you will have a total of 8 pieces).  Cut those in half to make 16 shorter pieces
- If you don't have fresh herbs, used dried.  Won't be quite the same, but still tasty!
- Cognac is the traditional choice for this dish, but it's still good with sherry or vermouth!
- Do NOT substitute the heavy cream.  The sauce will need to boil and unless heavy cream is used, the sauce will separate.  If you boil it down too much, mix in a little more heavy cream to thin the sauce back out.  (Trust me, this works!)
- Line the baking sheets with tin foil for easy clean-up

Steak Au Poive, Glazed Mushrooms, and Spiced Potato Wedges

1. Season steaks, heat oven, prep mushrooms
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with tin foil.

Remove steaks from fridge and sprinkle with salt on both sides of steak (about 1/2 tsp salt per steak) and 1/2 tsp of ground black pepper (split between the two steaks). Let steaks sit at room temperature while prepping the potatoes and mushrooms.

Slice (or buy pre-sliced) 1/2 lb of mushrooms.  After slicing, place in zip-top bag and add 2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp dried chopped), 1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 tsp dried chopped), 1/4 cup Italian parsley chopped (optional), and 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil.  Add a little salt (about 1/2 tsp) and pepper (1/4 tsp). Seal bag and mix.  Let sit about 10 minutes.

2. Prep and bake potatoes
While mushrooms are marinating, prep potatoes.  Cut each potato in half long-ways, then cut each half into two wedges.  Cut those wedges into two wedges (total of 8 wedges per potato).  Cut the wedges in half (total of 16 pieces).  Add potatoes to zip-top bag with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp garlic, and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (can add less if you don't want as spicy).  Add 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper, seal bag, and toss to coat.  Place wedges in single layer on the tin foil-lined baking sheet.  Bake at 450 until wedges are golden brown and crisp, 25 - 30 minutes.  Turn once during baking.  You can keep them in the oven when done to stay warm.  Just turn off the oven.

3. Bake and sauté mushrooms and reduce beef stock
Add mushrooms in a single layer to foil-lined baking sheet.  Bake at 450 degrees (can bake while potatoes are cooking) for 5 minutes until softened and tender.

While baking the mushrooms, in a small saucepan, add 1 cup beef stock and bring to a boil.  Boil until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 5 - 8 minutes.  If you're substituting stock for demi-glace, double the amount to boil.

While mushrooms are baking, heat a cast iron (preferred) or non-stick skillet with 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat.  When mushrooms are done baking, add them to skillet along with veal demi-glace.  Reduce until the sauce coats the mushrooms, about 5 minutes.  Add in 1 Tbsp butter and stir.  Remove mushrooms from skillet and keep in a bowl until ready to assemble dish.  Wipe out skillet with a paper towel.

2. Cook steaks and sauce
Heat skillet to medium-high heat with 1 tsp olive oil and 2 tsp butter.  Once butter is melted and foaming subsides, add the steaks.  

Reduce heat to medium and cook about 5 minutes per side for 1-inch thick steaks for medium-rare.  Cook longer if you prefer meat done to medium or well.  Remove steaks from pan and let rest 5 minutes (or up to 10).

For the sauce, in the same skillet, add reduced stock and scrape sides and bottom of pan with a wooden spoon to get the browned bits.  Add in 1/4 cup of cognac and reduce liquid by half (this can go fast!).  Add in 1/4 cup heavy cream and stir.  Bring to boil and reduce by half.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  If sauce reduces too much, add in more cream to thin out (helps if sauce is too salty as well).

3. Remove potatoes from oven and plate
To plate, put steak on plate, add mushrooms and drizzle with sauce.  Put additional sauce around meat on plate and add in potatoes.