Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Basics Part One: How to Broil the Perfect Steak with Sauteed Mushrooms and Crispy Baked Potatoes

There is nothing I like better than a good steak slathered with buttery golden sauteed mushrooms, and a fluffy baked potato with crispy skin.


In fact, I like it so much, I consider it one of my "basics" - a go to dinner I make at least once a month, usually on a Friday night.

I can't help it, I work hard and friday nights have an air of celebration about them.

Sometimes we go out to dinner, but more often than not, celebrating is putting on my comfiest flannel pyjamas and opening a bottle of good red wine.

Like this wonderful Cabernet Shiraz from Australia that's selling at a decent price point: The Musician.






















Though I neither swirled nor sniffed, this is a lovely full bodied red that beautifully accompanies a steak; which when broiled properly during these winter months when the barbecue is not as accessible, is a Friday night treat as good as you would have in any steak house.

Just as in life where there are techniques for navigating its ever changing waters like: "Do unto others," "Never tell a lie," or "Let your conscience be your guide" - the same applies to cooking where there are tried and true techniques for preparing most food.

Techniques I think of as "The Basics" that I will be sharing periodically starting with Friday's dinner of steak with sauteed mushrooms and a baked potato.

As an aside, one of my happiest food memories involves this dinner.

It was a Wednesday afternoon when I was in grade five.

I came home for lunch, expecting to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a bowl of KRAFT dinner, when to my surprise, my mom was in the kitchen, taking the day off work, and making me - you guessed it - a broiled T bone steak and a fluffy baked potato for lunch.

It was so thoughtful and so special that I more clearly understand now, why this particular dinner makes me feel well cared for at the end of a tough week.

Love, as they say, is in the details, and taking the time to prepare simple food exceptionally is another way to enjoy the very best of what life has to offer.

So let's begin!

Perfect Crisp Skinned Baked Potatoes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and clean a couple russet baking potatoes.
  2. Once the potatoes are clean, dry them off, poke two or three times with a fork, and oil the potatoes using canola oil. To oil, dab a small amount in your hands (about 1/8 tsp) and then spread thinly over the potato like it's getting ready to go to the beach. This is what will make your potato skin crispy.
  3. Lightly sprinkle with salt and then place directly onto the top rack of the oven. Heat rises and baking on the top rack will contribute to a crispy skin. Bake for about an hour and half checking often.
  4. If making with a steak, the potato can be moved to the bottom rack of the oven while the steak broils.
To serve your baked potato I'm going to share a secret I learned years ago watching Martha Stewart.

When it is cut in half, and before you add your toppings, grab your potato at both ends and gently push the ends toward each other. This will cause the insides of your potato to fluff providing the perfect receptacle for creamy butter, crisp green onions, or silky sour cream.

















Broiling the Perfect Steak
















Ingredients
  • 2 steaks
  • Your favourite steak seasoning (I use Montreal Steak Spice)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
Additional Items: Cast iron skillet, tongs

Directions:
  1. Bring your steaks to room temperature.
  2. Move oven rack 6 inches from heating element.
  3. Pre-heat oven and skillet by setting the oven to broiler for 10-15 minutes (the idea is to get your skillet very hot)
  4. Rub steaks with olive oil, and your choice of seasonings.
  5. Once the skillet is pre-heated, pull out of oven and carefully lay steaks on the skillet. The skillet will be extremely hot so expect the steaks to sizzle.
  6. Close oven and sear the steaks for 3 minutes on one side, turn and sear the opposite side for 3 minutes. Use tongs to turn steaks. A fork will release juices from the steak that you want to keep.
  7. Once seared, re-set the oven to 500F and cook using this Time Chart. Turn steaks half way through the remaining cooking time.
Time Chart
    Rare:1 inch steak, 0-1 minute, 1 1/4 inch steak 2-3 minute, 1 3/4 inch steak 4-5 minute
    Medium: 1 inch steak 2-3 minute, 1 1/4 inch steak 4-5 minute, 1 3/4 inch steak 6-7 minute
    Medium Well: 1 inch steak 4-5 minutes, 1 1/4 inch steak, 6-7 minute, 1 3/4 inch steak 8-9 minute

    Remove steaks from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes (Very important. Don't skip this step)

    Serve with sauteed mushrooms.

    Sautéed Mushrooms a la Julia Child

    Note: It is very important when sauteeing mushrooms that they are perfectly dry. Otherwise they will boil in the pan instead of sautee.

    Adapted from Mastering The Art of French Cooking
    • Heat 2 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp oil in a heavy 10-inch skillet over high heat
    • When the butter melts and foam begins to subside, add ½ lb. button mushrooms that have been washed, well-dried and sliced
    • Toss mushrooms for 4 to 5 minutes until they absorb the fat and start to squeak (you will hear them)
    • Adjust heat if starting to smoke and continue sautéeing for another 2 to 3 minutes until the mushrooms start to release the fat. They will brown rapidly at this point
    • Remove from the heat when they are light brown. Add salt, pepper, and any other seasonings to taste. I like to add a clove of minced garlic if serving with steak.
    So that's it.

    My version of the perfect steak dinner on a January Friday.

    I hope you enjoy!

    ***
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      8 comments:

      1. This looks so good that it makes me want to spit on the pesto chicken I have in the crockpot. Face it, I really want a steak! Thanks for the mushroom recipes and baked potato hint.

        ReplyDelete
      2. Ha! I was wondering if you swirled and snifed when you mentioned the wine. This looks like a perfect meal to me, I'd request this often. My husband is always happy with meat and potatoes...he grew up on a farm. (He is so good about eating vegetarian meals and enjoying them when I make them too).

        ReplyDelete
      3. This is definitely my hubby's favorite kind of meal! I'm all about a loaded baked potato with crispy skin. And it's always perfect at home with a bottle of wine...

        ReplyDelete
      4. Sounds like the perfect meal to me too! Question: when I set my oven to 500 THAT is broil???? I also thought you were supposed to leave the oven door open when broiling????? XO, Pinky

        ReplyDelete
      5. Good questions Pinky. Your broil setting activates the top burner. When you take your oven off broil and set it to 500, it will activate your bottom burner changing the heat source.

        As long as your oven is nice and clean - which I know yours is, you should be able to broil no problem leaving the oven door shut.

        ReplyDelete
      6. What a hearty and comforting meal! Sounds like the perfect thing after a long work week!

        ReplyDelete
      7. LYNDS,

        IT DOESN'T GET MUCH BETTER THAN A GOOD STEAK, MEDIUM RARE, TOPPED WITH THOSE LOVELY SAUTEED MUSHROOMS!

        STEAK IS A LIFETIME FAVE 4 ME, AND A SPECIAL TREAT THAT I DEARLY MISS HAVING ONCE IN A BLUE MOON WHEN I'D SAVE UP MY PENNIES B4 SUMMER 2009.

        THE CLOSEST THEY SERVE TO ANYTHING RESEMBLING A STEAK IS CHICKEN FRIED, WHICH IS OK SOMETIMES, BUT NOTHING LIKE THE REAL MCCOY!

        I LOVE THIS BLOG AND OFTEN DREAM OF BEING ANNIE [THE SUN'LL COME OUT TOMORROW] AND RATHER THAN DADDY WARBUCKS ADOPTING ME, "U" ADOPTING
        ME, FINALLY GETTING THE CHANCE TO FEEL SOME OF THE LOVE AND COMFORT THAT YER FABULOUS COOKING ALWAYS BRING!

        TOWANDA, BABY!

        ReplyDelete
      8. LOL I am not ashamed to say I am drooling like a little baby who is teething like there is no tomorrow!!!!! I am so sharing this with my daughter who is learning to cook like her old mother!

        kanoamom1110@yahoo.com

        ReplyDelete