Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Entries in beef (9)


Papayas are in Season: So Marinate a Flank Steak!

By a conservative and rough measure (Google Maps), I have traveled over 19,494 miles between March 22 and May 28. That's 78 percent of the circumference of the earth. WHAT.

I have been to 13 states on 6 business trips and 3 personal trips, stayed at about 9 different hotels, celebrated a buddy's wedding, and eaten hibachi with a bunch of high school prom-goers (funny story*). Now I am home. For now.

My returning-home ritual includes, of course, a thorough shopping trip to restock my kitchen supplies. Now, I don't think I'm making any radical claims when I say it's best (and cheapest) to cook with fruits and vegetables when they're in season -- and Everyday Food magazine told me papayas are in season.

So, I went out and bought a papaya, using some Googled instructions (my smartphone is my friend) for picking a good, ripe fruit. And find one I did -- my papaya was enormous, heavy, soft, and delicate, with a flowery aroma. After cutting off the rind, halving it, and scooping out the seeds, I pretty much went to town on the delicate meat, eating spears of bright red juicy goodness until I was pretty much sick of papaya.

Then I was like, "Hey. I still have half a papaya."

So obviously I marinated a flank steak in papaya. Recipe after the jump!

Click to read more ...


Chocolate-Chipotle Chili is Alliterative, Awesome Chili

There's almost no way to make chili photograph well. Obviously, alliterative foods are the best foods. Such is the case with a recent creation: my Chocolate-Chipotle Chili!

Sometimes, the dishes I feature here at Hungry Sam seem to constitute a survey of "how to make awesome reasonably healthy food when you're broke." ("On a budget" is such a cliche. Besides, aren't most people, rich or poor, "on a budget" of some sort? Even a badly thought-out, credit-heavy budget?)

Chili is the perfect, ultimate, ideal "awesome reasonably healthy food for when you're broke." (So many adjectives!)

Now, I know you're already aware of my chili fixation (See my posts/recipes for Pumpkin Turkey Chili and Epic Turkey Bean Chili), but this is really something special. That's because this time, I thought to myself, "how can I make chili even more hardcore and decadent while adding more ANTIOXIDANTS!?!?" Because these are things I think.

The answer sprang to mind at once: I should use chocolate!

Click to read more ...


Avocado Margaritas, Decoy Cakes, and SLIDERS TO GO

I hope all my hungry readers had an excellent and food-filled Labor day weekend! I was in Santa Fe at a pretty fantastic wedding, so mine was jam packed with interesting and decadent foods and drinks. And some incredibly cool touches, like sliders! In a doggy bag! After the wedding at like 11 PM. I was physically and gastronomically incapable of leaving that wedding hungry.

Read on for more.
Although I was in constant possession of my camera, you'll have to forgive me if I was primarily focused on people. I did, however, get a few good pictures of some of the dishes served. Perhaps the most exotic of these (and one for which I have yet to find a recipe) was this Avocado Margarita:

"That's right, woah," I respond to your inevitable exclamation. "Woah indeed."
Come to think of it, this might be as simple as blending the makings for a margarita with half an avocado. 

Click to read more ...


Pan-Seared Flank Steak, Stonewall Kitchen Style

Outstanding Savory Condiment, indeed.
Though I've become a D.C.-citizen, sans-voting rights and all, I remain at heart a Mainer with an inordinate amount of state pride. So, obviously, I am a staunch and stalwart supporter of Stonewall Kitchen products. 
Oh, you didn't know? Stonewall Kitchens, purveyor of awesome jarred sauces, syrups, salsas, and other good stuff, is based in York, Maine.  

Click to read more ...


Coffee + Steak = COFFEESTEAK

These are a few of my favorite things...
No, I'm NOT just listing two of my favorite things. With the inspiration of (inevitably) Everyday Food Magazine, I endeavored the other night to create an coffee, chile, brown sugar and cinnamon rub, which I used on a good-sized skirt steak before pan-frying.

Martha Stewart's EDF minions suggested a three-ish to one ancho-chile powder to instant espresso powder ration, but I decided to reverse that and reduce the brown sugar, while upping the cinnamon. There was eyeballing involved, but if I had to pretend I remember the recipe, the rub worked out to:

-4 tbsp. instant espresso powder
-2 tsp. ancho chili powder (next time I might experiment with chipotle)
-4 tbsp. granulated brown sugar
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp. black pepper

Mix all the ingredients well (whisk is good, or covering and shaking works too).

I brought the skirt steak to about room temperature so they'd cook evenly. I cut it in two, the better to fit in my 13" skillet, and massaged handfuls of the rub deeply into the beef (both sides). I would have used more of the mixture, but even using significantly less chile powder, I was concerned about the heat.

Now, I've recently taken to pan-frying steaks, since our grill is currently a no-go and I don't think my George Forman grill gets quite hot enough for the seared exterior, rare interior effect I like my steaks to have. I've yet to spring for a good grill pan or some such, so in-the-pan it is.

First, I preheated my oven to 225 degrees. I heated a little butter (enough to coat, but not pool in) the bottom of the pan and brought it to a strong medium-high. The steaks went in, about 2 minutes a side, until well-seared, then I popped the pan into the oven for about 5 minutes to finish cooking to rare. Were my steaks any thinner, I might have skipped this step entirely.

When I finished, I pulled the steaks to my cutting board, cover them loosely with tin foil, and let them sit. ALWAYS let meat sit for a few minutes. Why? I don't know. Some people say it's about letting the juices redistribute themselves evenly throughout; others claim it's about letting the meat fibers reabsorb juices. I don't care which one it is, but after I finish cooking a steak I tent it loosely with foil and let it rest for five minutes.

Verdict: I'd cooked the steak slightly longer than I intended so it reached more of a medium rare than rare, but the flavor was fantastic. Rich and spicy and hearty, slightly sweet and dark, the steaks tasted like the sensation of being in front of a woodfire on a cold day. Delicious, but also just kind of unexpected; I can't say as I've had beef with these flavors before.

Awwww yeah. Here she is:

I ate the steak with sweet corn (microwaving about 2 minutes is the simplest and easiest way to do it) and strawberries, the light sweetness of both cutting through the earthy complexity of the meat.

All around, this rub is a keeper. I might try it mixed into ground beef for burgers -- the surprise intensity would be a fun dish to serve at a barbecue or party. Try it yourself, and tweak the spices -- just use good, rich spices with great depth of flavor.


Frolicking in Southern Food: Georgia Brown's

This cornbread is shaped like corn! Will wonders never cease?
Every now and again, I'm asked "What should be on my D.C. bucket list? What are some must-see, must-dine experiences I need to have hereabouts?" I have a new addition to my series of suggestions: Georgia Brown's, a restaurant with a well-deserved status as a Washington landmark.

You see, growing up in Maine and going to school in Rochester, NY, I think I always perceived Washington, D.C. as some sort of food frontier, the North's last culinary fort before the expanse of the deep fried South. In my mind, Southern food is buttered and fried then buttered again, then chicken fried (whatever the hell THAT is). I've since learned of the savory wonder of cheese grits and andouille shrimp stew, and of the sweet crunch of perfect corn bread, and I've since learned that there is no one "south," just as it's fallacious to claim there's a single "north," with one single culture, attitude, and cuisine.

Enough of my previously-held personal predilections (woot alliterative adjectives); on to Georgia Brown's!

As a padawan health nut, I generally avoid fatty, carby offerings for lunch -- let's face it, 95 percent of the time the meal wasn't worth the aftereffects. Also, I will fall asleep. BUT with the boss taking us out (she engages in frequent awesome bouts of feeding us!) and with what I'd heard about Georgia Brown's (WORTH IT), I decided to embrace GB's rich, spectacular, southern offerings.

The menu presents what could be described as up-scaled and creative versions of solid comfort-food classics. Deviled eggs, fried green tomatoes (more on these), fried chicken, jambalaya, and shrimp & grits; pretty much what you'd expect, I suppose -- but better.

But the

Also, see the cornbread picture above. Shaped like corn! SO ENTERTAINED BY THIS.

I opted for the lunch prix fixe menu, as did most of my colleagues, which included an appetizer, entree, and dessert. On my boss' recommendation I decided to start with a fried green tomato (a dish my mom always resisted making because she wants all the tomatoes to ripen up for jarring our sauce). No simple FGT these, though:

First of all, it was crispy and lightly breaded to succulent perfection. Served atop a sort of green tomato relish, or chutney or somesuch, the appetizer was drizzled with a light green onion mayo. Then, just to drop-kick it into the culinary stratosphere, the tomato was STUFFED WITH GOAT CHEESE. Yeah, you heard me. AWESOME. This dish wowed me, and was perhaps my favorite part of the meal aside from the aforementioned cornbread.

Here it is again.
Next, I selected the chef's special, which on that day was a brisket, served in a thick, rich, peppercorn gravy with vegetables atop a mound of red mashed potatoes.

My picture does NOT do the food justice -- the brisket was perfectly tender and generally well-spiced; it flaked nicely with my fork alone and without any of the stringy, get-stuck-between-your-teeth character brisket can at times acquire. Though delicious, it was perhaps the least adventurous step of my journey into GB's offerings.

Finally, for dessert, the chef provided a simple caramel-drizzled chocolate sheet cake and a piece of sweet potato pie/tart, with a solid dollop of home-whipped cream.

I have to say, the cake was mundane and totally outshone by the tangy, rich, nutmeggy pie. I made all-gone, likeso:

Talk about a lunch. Yes, I felt like I'd gained 74 lbs., and yes, it took inordinate levels of afternoon caffeine to remain productive -- but worth it? Abso-wicked-lutely.

Georgia Brown's has earned it's title as: "One of Hungry Sam's Favorite Restaurants (when someone else is picking up the tab)." Excellent, excellent experience; I highly recommend it.


Why Marinate? And a Recipe. And News.

UPDATE: Chef friends have added info in the comments section. Check it out!

Before I launch into the purpose and science of marinades, two quick pieces of cool, Hungry Sam-oriented news. One, that only I and perhaps my blogger friends might consider interesting -- I'm getting up to 100 views on a couple of my semi-recent posts. Sweet.

Much more interesting: Someone sent a screenshot of my recent post RE: Candy Cane Tootsie Pops to the good people at Tootsie. Said people emailed me AND ARE SENDING ME SEVERAL BAGS OF THEM. WHAT NOW?!?!?!

This is awesome, wonderful news. (Also SUPER public relations. All my readers should go out and spend money on Tootsie products.)

Anyways, to the point: Marinades.

I'll admit, I have gone back and forth on marinades, particularly for meats. Often, I find it easier, faster, and nearly as good to use a good dry rub or some such. However, having decided the other night that I deserved a steak, I opted to whip up a quick marinade since I had tome on my hands anyways.

First, the recipe: For .6 lbs New York strip, I mixed 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup soy sauce, and pinches each of dried rosemary, garlic, and fresh ground ginger. I seasoned my beef in salt and pepper, threw it in a plastic bag with my marinade, and left it in the fridge for 4 hours, flipping whenever I thought to (maybe 3 times all told).

I grilled my steaks to rare on my Foreman grill, and boy, did they come out beautifully. Savory and well-flavored throughout, they had a perfect caramelized crusting on the exterior. Interior was that just-cooked texture, just-pink coloring that marks (in my opinion) a perfect rare steak.

Now, these particular New York strips had very little marbling of fat, which is often what makes an expensive steak tender, as fat breaks down quickly while cooking. Yet the steaks I cooked had that melt-on-your-tongue-like-a-pat-of-butter tenderness. Why?

The marinade. Chef's know this from experience, but from a chemical perspective, why do marinades tenderize as well as flavor...ize?

Basically, not all connective tissue in meat is created equal -- some breaks down during the cooking process at a faster rate or to a different degree than others. This is why cheap meats are best when cooked for a long time, such as in braising, and more expensive meats tend to have more fat marbled throughout, since fat breaks down VERY quickly when heat is applied. The goal of marinating is to help all the meat break down a little faster, leaving less tough meat remaining when it's cooked fast (as in grilling). Marinades do this by imbuing the meat with enzymes that themselves break down the connective tissue in meat, enzymes such as papain, found in ginger, garlic, papaya, pineapple, etc.

Things to remember when marinating:

  • Contact is key -- the smaller the pieces of meat that are marinating, the better able the marinade is at getting in and tenderizing the interior of your meat.

  • Marinating breaks down meat -- so don't marinate too long. The more fat (i.e. higher quality) the meat, particularly beef and lamb, the less time, generally speaking, you should marinate.

  • Marinating can dry meat out -- so either cook quickly or in liquid after marinating.

Also, as a bonus, I'll tell you that while I'm writing this I'm watching the Patriots crush the Bears while beer-and-mustard braising a beef stew and making fig and walnut biscotti. Yeah Sunday night!