Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cooking First: I made steak!

No matter how much time I spend in my kitchen, there is always something new to try. Cooking a steak isn't exactly an intensive technique, but for me it was a huge accomplishment. Really, the milestone was not so much cooking the meat, but cooking and then eating a decent sized piece of red meat.

You see, I swore off red meat when I was 13, thanks to Oprah's episode on the dangers of beef, and my general pickiness about eating meat. I was a pretty average eater as a kid-- I had my aversions, but wasn't overly picky. As I got older, I grew into some of my tastes, learning to appreciate things like fresh summer tomatoes. I became a somewhat adventurous eater, trying things like escargot or frog's legs, and I started to feel like a bit of a fraud for refusing to eat any red meat. How could I be a foodie if I refused to eat a whole category of food that I wasn't even willing to taste! (Although I hate the word foodie, and the obnoxious outcomes of the recent food renaissance!)
Last spring Joe and I became vegetarian for Lent. During that time, I decided that once it was over, I was ready to try red meat again. It's funny how things have worked out, because we eat a vegetarian diet at least 75-85% of the time at this point... but I have learned to appreciate meat so much more when I do eat it. And it was only appropriate that a food and beer expert like Garrett Oliver would cook me my first grown up tastes of lamb and beef.

I've had some burgers since then, and sampled various cuts of beef and lamb with my food related jobs. Last week I suggested to Joe that we actually plan a meal that has meat as its main course, and he suggested steak. I grabbed the bull by the horns, researched steak cooking techniques from Anthony Bourdain and Thomas Keller, and bought some petite sirloin from Whole Foods. I also found a blue cheese compound butter recipe from Ina Garten, which was so indulgent and mind-numbingly delicious.  Roasted Brussels sprouts and boulangere potatoes (similar to this) rounded out the perfect dinner. I ended up only eating half of the steak, but I'd consider that a significant first step!

Also, let's talk about the butter. Four tablespoons of softened butter, 2 ounces of blue cheese, and a heaping tablespoon of minced scallions. You can blend it in your food processor, or if you hate cleaning your food processor, you can just smash it with a spoon until it's blended. Then, roll it into a log using some parchment paper, and toss it in the freezer for an hour or two. Top your steak with a big slice off the log, and be amazed. Then, save the rest of the butter for when you need to elevate a dish to a new level. Delish!

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