Bringing The Steakhouse Home

Look, I love a fancy steakhouse as much as the next carnivore glutton. If I could afford it in both time and money, I’d probably spend five nights a week at a fine chophouse, knocking back extra dry Gibson martinis and savoring bloody beef seared JUST RIGHT. But, alas, responsibilities and my wallet like to check me back into reality. So, I soothe my cravings by making a damn fine steak at home. Sometimes, if I squeeze my eyes shut real tight, a savory bite of beef in my mouth and my imagination at full tilt, it’s like I’m really there in that old-timey San Francisco establishment, bright white tablecloths tended to by slightly annoyed, very seasoned waiters. So, dear reader, I give you three recipes that, when savored together, create an other-worldly experience with the power to transport even the most unimaginative eater to that red-velvet clad steakhouse in the sky…

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Perfect Steak, Kale Gratin and Truffled Garlic Fries
(All in one bite – highly recommended)

For the Steak:
If you have a fool proof method for stove cooked steaks that taste like they came out of a restaurant kitchen, then more power to you! If not, then do this:

Two Steaks, any cut, really, between 1″ and 3″ thick

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided in half

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon worcestechire sauce

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/8 teaspoon brown sugar or honey

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon salt

lots of cracked black pepper

two finger pinch of red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients except steak (duh) in a bowl and whisk excitedly. Place steaks in a shallow dish and cover with marinade, rubbing both sides. Cover and let sit at room temp at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400*. In a frying pan over medium-high to high heat, add remaining olive oil. Sear steaks on both sides about 1 min per side. Transfer to wire rack over baking dish and bake approx 7 minutes for rare/medium rare, 9 minutes for medium and 12+ minutes for well done. Remove from oven and allow to rest at least 4 minutes before carving.

Kale Gratin

Bunch of kale, washed, stems removed, ripped or cut into 1″-2″ pieces

1 C gruyer cheese, grated

1 shallot, finely chopped

1/2 C warm milk

2/3 C heavy cream, warmed

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground/grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter, add shallots. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir and continue to cook about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle in flour and stir to combine and cook flour, do not brown. After about 1 minute, gently whisk in warm milk and cream. Continue to whisk as sauce thickens, about a minute to two minutes. Add kale and fold into sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. If sauce becomes too thick, add more milk or cream. If too thin, don’t panic. After about 4 minutes, remove from heat and a handful of grated gruyer, folding to combine. Transfer to baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake 8-12 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove and allow to cool a bit before serving.

Truffled Garlic Fries
(A.k.a. HOLY SHIT FRIES)

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4 large russet potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and cut into thin 1/2″ fries (this is important)*

6 cups vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/4 C finely chopped flat leaf Italian parsley

3 tablespoons white truffle oil

Lots of kosher or sea salt

This is the only way to make french fries at home. Ever. Unless you have an industrial fryer. But if you do, you don’t care about my dinky little stovetop fry recipe. So, for everyone else, in a large pot over NO HEAT, add oil and potatoes. Yes, start with no heat. A cold pot. Trust me. Turn heat to high. Leave alone. As oil starts to just simmer, very carefully loosen any potatoes stuck to the bottom. Now, leave them alone. I know, this all sounds odd. Go with it, you’ll like it. After about 8-10 minutes the potatoes will start to brown. You can stir a bit more to ensure that the fries aren’t sticking…just don’t bother them too much, lest they break apart and clump together. When the fries are nice and golden, remove and place in either a wire basket or on paper towels, salt immediately. Add parsley and garlic, toss liberally. Drizzle truffle oil a little at a time, tossing between drizzles. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Serve hot. Thank me later.

Recipe notes:
*Potatoes MUST be cut into thin fries. 1/2 inch thick is the perfect size. Don’t ask me to explain…I can’t. I just know that if I cut them too thick, they come out mooshy inside and take too long to warm up in the oil. Any thinner and you’ve got chip strips. Something about 1/2″ pieces just works.
DO NOT place potatoes into hot oil. Please, for the love of root vegetables, just don’t. Try this recipe word for word JUST ONCE and you’ll be glad you did.

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