Monday, January 18, 2010

Steak House Dinner, Homemade

Starting the new year on the right foot for me, often means cleaning up. Putting away Christmas gifts and decorations, getting rid of clutter, and cleaning out the fridge. It just feels good to have a fresh clean start.So what to do with those mushrooms I bought for the chili, and forgot to add? Saute them of course. What goes well with mushrooms? Beef, or more specifically filet mignon. What side would turn those two into the most awesome dinner? Double stuffed potatoes.Thus was the thought process for my Steak House style dinner; more or less. I happened to have everything I needed on hand, from the pantry or the freezer. I chose to make pepper crusted steaks so I could try out my new pepper mill.

This dinner was an exercise in time management. Start roasting the potato(es) in the oven, then work on prepping your dishes.

Twice Baked Potatoes

Preheat the oven to 400* F. Scrub your potato(es) and pierce with a fork all over. You are going to want about one per person, or one large potato can be split into two servings. Place it/them in the oven, straight on the rack and allow to bake 40 - 50 minutes or until tender. Potatoes can be roasted in their own skin; wrapping them in foil retains to much moisture.If you want a roasted garlic flavor in the mash you will be making later, place a few cloves unpeeled garlic(per potato) in a foil packet, drizzle with EVOO, wrap tightly, and bake in the oven along side the potatoes. When the potatoes are done, you can take out the garlic packet. Inside you will find that the cloves have turned into little aromatic gobs that can be squeezed out of their peel like paste.When the potatoes are fork tender, remove from the oven and allow them to cool enough for handling. Slice each one in half length wise, and using a fork or spoon, scoop out the interior into a bowl, leaving a 1/2-inch shell. Mix in butter, milk, sour cream, salt and pepper, or whatever you would normally put in mashed potatoes, to taste. Fill the shells with the mixture and top with broccoli and cheese. Pop them back in the oven, until the cheese has melted.

Pepper Crusted Steak

These are nothing more than properly seared steaks that are first coated with lots of freshly cracked black pepper and salt to taste.Start with room temperature steaks; Filet Mignon are my favorite, but this is good with other cuts as well.

Sprinkle a bit of salt on both sides, then cover with freshly cracked black pepper, lots of black pepper. Press the pepper into the meat to make a nice crust. Allow the steaks to rest for a moment to allow for what is essentially a rub, to marinate. Meanwhile heat up a heavy bottom skillet on the oven with a small amount of vegetable oil. It needs to be screaming hot with the oil just smoking. (Make sure the vent fan is on.) Place the steaks into the skillet and allow the first side to sear for at least four minutes before you even think about moving them. They have to be still to allow the pepper crust to adhere and the meat to caramelize. Once the sear has been achieved, flip the steaks and repeat on side two. This will usually result in rare steak; to cook further, place the skillet into the hot oven 3-5 minutes. If you are unsure if the handle of your skillet is oven proof, wrap it in a layer of aluminum foil. Pull the steaks out of the pan and allow to rest before cutting into them. Remember that residual heat will continue to cook the steaks, so pull them just before you think they look or feel done.

Sauteed Mushrooms in Cream Sauce

1 pint container of mushrooms (brown or white button mushrooms are good)
2 T flour
2 T butter
stock (beef or chicken)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Start by rinsing off the mushrooms and patting them dry with in a towel. Heat up a small amount of EVOO in your saute pan, the slice those mushrooms. When the pan is hot, add the mushroom slices and allow to cook for 7 - 10 minutes or until browned. DO NOT salt them yet! The salt will draw out the water in them and they will stew in their juices rather than brown. Also it is best not to over crowd the pan. When the mushroom slices are brown, make a well in the middle, and melt in the butter. Sprinkle in the flour and stir and cook to form a roux. Pour in about a cup of stock and a cup of milk and allow the roux to work it's magic and thicken the sauce, over low heat, until the sauce can cover the back of a spoon. Now you can add salt and pepper to taste.

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