Monday, October 11, 2010

Nick's Birthday Dinner - Red Wine soaked Buffalo Steak with Caramelized Onions and Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes

So in continuing with the theme of Nick's birthday I thought I would share our activities for the evening in a series of entries. First up, what I made for dinner!

As you probably know by now, Nick and I don't really eat meat. For all intents and purposes we are vegetarians, but when the meat is raised/treated ethically and there's no hormones, etc. pumped into it, then we will eat it. And since one of Nick's favorite things in the world is steak, I decided to make him a steak dinner (with meat carefully selected from Whole Foods of course).

For the steak:

-Red wine
-Olive Oil
-Minced Garlic

For the potatoes:

-depending on size of potatoes, about 1 to 1 1/2 potatoes per person. I like Yukon Gold the best for just about every potato recipe ever.
-smoked gouda cheese

For the caramelized onions:

-For two steaks, half of an onion
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 2 TBSP vinegar
- 3 TBPS sugar

1. First I combined some good quality red wine (as Rachel Ray always says, if you don't want to drink it, then you don't want to cook with it), a few fresh cloves of garlic that I chopped up, some fresh rosemary from our herb garden, and a little bit of olive oil in a bowl. I let the steaks soak for about an hour on each side. NOT IN THE FRIDGE (cooking your meat when it's cold messes up the time it takes to cook and the texture). I have meat loving cats, so I usually stick it in the microwave for safe keeping.

2. Next I boiled the peeled potatoes in salted water. Depending on size of potatoes this could take up to 45 minutes. The key to non chunky potatoes is cooking them longer. So I like to make sure the potatoes are so soft when you try to lift them out of the pot (with a fork or tongs, they are already breaking apart).

3. While the potatoes were boiling I got to work on my caramelized onions. Slice up the onion real thin, then put in your pan with the other ingredients. Cook on medium-high for a few minutes until the onions start to look a little cooked/opaque (stir often), then put the heat down to medium-low until the onions look like they are cooked, then turn the heat down to the lowest setting and forget about them. They'll need to cook for about 30-45 minutes to get that nice dark brown color you see at the restaurants.

4. Since all of these things take a while to cook, I spent some time setting the table, making my cupcakes etc. You can keep close to the onions if you want, but once you set them on low and forget about them, you probably have a good 30 minutes to yourself before you have to pay attention to anything again.

5. By now just about everything should be done cooking. You can turn off the potatoes and put them into your pot/mashing bowl/whatever. But the longer you cook those onions the better (just remember to keep them on the lowest setting so they don't crunch up), so don't worry about turning those off. Turn on your grill pan that you're going to use for the steak. Next mash with your masher, a lot (I don't use a ricer because again, the longer you cook your potatoes, the less you have to worry about chunks). Add your milk and butter (I did half a stick of butter and a 1/3 of a cup of milk for 3 1/2 potatoes) and a generous amount of salt. Give a good stir, you can add more to taste.

6. By now your grill pan should be super hot and you can put the steaks on there. I usually dump a little bit of the soak on the pan before putting the steaks on there. Then dump the rest on top. Cook for 5 minutes on each side for medium.

7. While the steaks are cooking grate your smoked gouda cheese. You need at least half of a cup, but you can add more if you want to bring out the smokey flavor more (I usually do more and flavor to taste). Because your potatoes are still very hot, the cheese should melt find. But if you want you can always stir everything in and either put your pot over heat again (or nuke if it's in a bowl) then stir some more.

8. Once your steaks are done you can transfer them to the plate. Put some caramelized onions on top and blue cheese if you want (I chose one that smelled a little bit sweet and it tasted awesome). And of course potatoes to the side.

You can serve the same red wine as you made the meal in if you want. And for all your non-red wine drinkers (like myself), don't be afraid to cook with it. It just enhances the flavor, doesn't overpower it. So you can still enjoy the steak too!

I set the table with lots of candles, played some jazz in the background, and it was almost like we were at our own little romantic bistro. (Who says men don't like to be wined and dined too.)

And just to let you know, you can enter into the contest until Thursday and I'll announce the winner on Friday night.

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