Sorry, mom. I had to put some more stuff on steak. I hope this doesn’t ruin Mother’s Day for you.
Menu No 19: Steak with Chimichurri; Roasted Potato Wedges; Sautéed Spinach with Vidalia Onions; Torrijas
The recipe calls for 2 lbs of strip steak. I never make steak so I have no idea what cut is what, unless it’s a a T-bone, which, you know, has that T-shaped bone in it. Turns out strip steak is damned expensive; if you want a free-range piece it can go for more than $20 a pound. Since we are not millionaires, I decided to go with 1 lb of rib-eye, which was considerably less expensive.
I resisted the impulse to grill them, and followed Martha’s simple recipe: dry with a paper towel, salt and pepper both sides, place in cast iron skillet and cook over medium high heat until it has a nice crust, then turn. It rests for 10 minutes, and is sliced against the grain, then topped with chimichurri sauce.
Evidently I have never had chimichurri sauce–I thought it was a type of Argentinean salsa. but that’s not how it works at all. My grilling cookbook has two recipes for it, as does my Emeril Lagasse grilling cookbook (Emeril at the Grill), so I decided to pit Emeril vs. Martha and make both sauces. I made half of hers, and a quarter of his. Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets!
Martha’s is as follows (adapted from Dinner at Home):
1/2 c minced red onion
1/2 c coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 T coarsely chopped fresh oregano
1 T minced garlic
1/3 c extra-virgin olive oil
3 T red wine vinegar
1/2 T crushed red pepper flakes
1 T finely grated lemon zest
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and season with 2 1/2 t salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
Hers is supposed to sit for 15 minutes at room temperature, while Emeril advises to let his rest for 2-6 hours. Here is his. And the drum roll please!
We actually liked Martha’s better!
Did you faint? Yes, us, too. But hers was less acidic, with a better oil to vinegar ratio, and had a better flavor overall. That doesn’t mean I actually enjoyed eating either one on my actual steak. Ew–too vinegar-y. See, mom? You raised me right after all.
The Husband enjoyed Martha’s version with the steak, he liked the “oniony whatnot” of it.* He also said it reminded him of A-1, without the molasses flavor. A-1 is an abomination, and I don’t recall what it tastes like, having had it so long ago and never since. To me, the chimichurri reminded me of tabouli without the bulgur. Or like a parsley salad. I don’t know why you would put this on meat, but there you have it. Sorry Emeril!
*The Husband’s Helpful Household Hint: the chimichurri would be good to serve with a wine that’s about to go bad. No one would notice the vinegar-y taste of the wine after tasting the sauce. The tempranillo we opened with it, however, was no match, sadly.
The “recipe” called for slicing three Russet potatoes into 12 wedges, tossing them with olive oil and minced garlic on the cookie sheet, and roasting them. We clearly have an oven temperature issue, as I checked on them quite a bit earlier than the time she gave, and they were already overcooked on one side. They tasted pretty much like all of her potato recipes have tasted.
Spinach with Vidalia Onions:
I don’t normally think to eat spinach with beef; usually it’s eaten with chicken or fish in the Squeaky Peanut house. We cook it with lots of garlic, and maybe some red pepper flakes, and then add lemon, so this was unusual for us. The Husband was already biased against it after I mentioned the Vidalia onion part, thinking it would be too sweet.
This “recipe” called for sautéing a sliced Vidalia onion in olive oil, then sautéing baby spinach until it’s wilted. I will say I liked the Vidalia onion with it, as it managed to taste buttery to me. The chimichurri was so acidic, it wouldn’t have worked to cook the spinach as we normally do.
However, as The Husband pointed out, any idiot could cook this, so why bother with a recipe?
Torrijas vs. Some Pretty Ok Cookies:
Dessert was to be torrijas; a bastardization of a Spanish Lenten treat similar to our French toast. Guess who doesn’t like French toast? Squeaky Peanut. And Mr. Squeaky Peanut!
In Martha’s version, a loaf of French bread was to be cut into four quadrants, dipped into sweetened condensed milk, and then pressed like a panini in a pan. That seems somewhat geometrically impossible. Also? Sweetened condensed milk is creepy. Milk + sugar. But in a can? Traditional torrija recipes call for milk, honey, sugar, etc. So, I decided not to waste our money, time or calories on the nonsense.
Instead, I made Martha’s Strawberry Shortcake Cookies, from her website, because we went a bit strawberry crazy at the farmer’s markets last week. I messed them up a bit by forgetting to add the butter until after the cream was added, and I found out too late we don’t have any parchment paper, but they are forgiving little things.
They turned out pretty nice even though they aren’t much to look at. I also forgot to sprinkle the tops with sugar, which worked out well because they weren’t too sweet. No one is going to be fooled into thinking this is actually strawberry shortcake, but it’s the kind of thing where you eat one, and think, “Oh, this isn’t bad” and the next thing you know you’ve eaten half the pan. They are good with tea or milk.
I suppose everything went together ok, if you like that sort of thing. We both thought the idea of torrijas after the chimichurri sauce sounded particularly unfortunate. Other than chopping the herbs, potato and onion, there isn’t much prep work to this meal, so it took about an hour.
Steak w/Chimichurri: The Husband gives the sauce a B. I am deferring to him because I didn’t like it in a philosophical context, not necessarily the thing itself.
Potatoes: C Tastes fine, nothing special and no recipe needed
Spinach: C Tastes fine, also nothing special, and no recipe needed
Cookies: Should I grade things that aren’t in the cookbook? If so, A-