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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rolled Stuffed Flank Steak, a great dish for entertaining

This is an impressive dish. It is tasty, of course. It uses seasonal greens, chard and arugula. It's not something you often see so your guests will be wow'ed by your culinary chops. There is only one tricky skill here: butterflying the flank steak. You'll need a really sharp knife, preferably a boning knife. You need to slice the steak in half so that it opens like a book. Since a flank steak is only 1 1/2 inches thick, this takes some skill and patience. Take your time and you'll get it. If it's not sliced evenly in half, it's still ok. Just make sure you don't cut any holes in it because the stuffing will leak out. Not the end of the world, but not quite as pretty.

A nice accompaniment for this is soft polenta with parmesan cheese.

Any leftovers are also very good cold. In fact, if the weather heats up, cook this ahead, chill it, and have it cold for dinner with a nice salad.

Butterflied Steak Stuffed with Greens (serves 8)
Adapted from Bert Greene's Greene on Greens

½ pound Swiss Chard , leaves only, chopped
½ pound Arugula , chopped
3 ½ tbl Unsalted Butter
1 large Onion , finely chopped
2 medium Onions, sliced
1 pound Ground Veal , or use ground turkey
2 large Egg , lightly beaten
2 tbl Chopped Fresh Parsley , plus additional for garnish
1 tsp Fresh Thyme , chopped, or ¼ tsp dried thyme
1 ½ tsp Salt
¾ tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 ½ to 2 pounds Flank Steak, butterflied (see note)
1 medium Carrot , peeled and chopped
½ cup Beef Stock
½ cup Red Wine
1 tsp Tomato Paste

Melt 1 tbl. butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the chopped onion; cook until soft. Stir in chard and arugula. Cook, covered, until soft, about 15 minutes. Raise the heat and remove the cover. Cook, stirring, until all the liquid has evaporated. Transfer to a mixing bowl and cool in the refrigerator.

When the greens are cold, add the veal, the eggs, 2 tbl. parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper. Mix well to combine.

Lay out steak, season with salt and pepper. Spread the filling all over it. Roll it up starting on the long side, and use kitchen twine to keep it from unrolling. Season outside with salt and pepper.

Melt 1 tbl. of butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute the rolled steak until it is well-browned on all sides. Place the sliced onions and chopped carrot around the steak. Add the beef stock and the red wine. It should boil right away. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook at a simmer for about 1 ¼ hours.

Remove the meat to a serving plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Strain the juices from the pot into a small saucepan. Stir in the tomato paste and cook over high heat until slightly thickened. Stir in remaining 1 ½ tbl. butter. Remove from heat.

Slice rolled steak with a serrated knife into 1" thick slices (to show off the pretty pinwheel of steak and stuffing). Pour sauce over steak slices, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve immediately.

Any leftovers are excellent served cold.

Note: How to butterfly a flank steak

Use a very sharp knife. Either a boning knife or a chef's knife will do.

Lay the steak on a cutting board so that the long side is perpendicular with the front of the cutting board. You will be cutting through three sides of the steak, leaving one long edge intact. Insert the knife into one corner, slicing an edge in half. When you make this cut, your knife is parallel with the countertop.You will continue this cut almost all the way through the steak. Put your non-cutting hand flat on top of the steak and cut through the steak, keeping the knife as flat as possible. When you get close to the far edge along the whole edge, open the steak like a book and make sure the steak lies flat. You can make a few small cuts near the intact edge to help it lie flat but you want to be careful you don't cut all the way through.

Link to PDF of Butterflied Steak Stuffed with Greens.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Thawing Frozen Meat Faster

This is news we can use. How to speed up the process of thawing frozen meat. I have wondered if this was a safe way to thaw meat. Now someone has done the experiments and figured out that, yes, this works and you won't give yourself food poisoning in the process. I have often used cool tap water. This was the recommended method for thawing that I learned in culinary school. But, obviously, things go quicker if you thaw the meat in hotter water. Cool water thawed steaks in 20 minutes. Somewhat hot water thawed them in 11 minutes. As comparison, it took 18-20 hours to thaw similar steaks in the refrigerator. You won't achieve these quick thaw times in your kitchen unless you have an immersion circulator that keeps the water temperature consistently hot (Look Ronnie! Another use for David's immersion circulator!) but even starting with 125 degree F water will speed things up.

One caveat: this method has only been tested in fairly thin cuts like chicken breasts and 1" steaks. The testing hasn't been done on large roasts so isn't recommended for big cuts.

You can read the whole article in the New York Times: A Hot-Water Bath for Thawing Meats

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Really easy basic broccoli

I have been making this very tasty and easy broccoli recipe for years. I made it recently at my brother-in-law's house. My sister-in-law's niece said it was the best broccoli she's ever eaten and insisted on the recipe. I hesitate to call it a recipe because it is so simple. I imagine she isn't the only person who would love an easy week-night vegetable dish. In my house, 2 heads of broccoli feeds 4 people. Your broccoli mileage may vary. We love broccoli.

Simple Garlic Broccoli
(serves 4)

4 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
2 heads of broccoli, broken into florets and stems peeled and cut into slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste

Heat 1 Tbl olive oil in a large skillet with a cover over medium heat.

Add garlic and saute until fragrant but not browned.

Add broccoli and toss to cover with oil. Add 2 tbl water,  which should immediately create a lot of steam. Cover and steam broccoli for 5 minutes, until crisp-tender. I like my broccoli not too crunchy and not too soft which takes about 6-7 minutes in high altitude Boulder. 5 minutes is about right at sea-level.

Remove the cover, turn up the heat to medium-high and cook another minute to evaporate most of the water.

Sprinkle with remaining 1 Tbl olive oil and salt. Serve immediately.