How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Monday, December 19, 2016

Going Dutch

When planning for a recent dinner at Whaling House, Pam cracked open the Vincent Price cooking tome, and found a simple Flemish recipe for steak -- Hollandsche Biefstuk (Dutch Beefsteak) -- and sauce. Really, it was gravy, but this is a very classy book...

Neither steak nor sauce photographs well,
so I am including this nice image of Mr. Price,
from the cover of his tv cookbook.
I began by tenderizing the steak with a heavy spoon. The recipe includes an admonishment to do this, since the steak will be cooking quickly. I then mixed 2T wine vinegar, 1t salt, and 1/2t pepper. I rubbed this mixture onto both sides of the steaks and let them rest on a plate for a half hour.

I then melted 1/4 cup of butter in an indispensable cast-iron skillet, and sautéed the steak for 4-1/2 minutes on each side. Actually, that is the timing specified by Mr. Price. Why the timing is so precise when the temperature is not specified at all, I'm not certain. Still, it seemed to bring the steaks to a good, medium doneness. The directions advise "moving it around while it cooks" which I just learned is what distinguishes sautéeing (as in "jump") from frying.

Keeping the burner on, I then set the steaks aside in on a warm plate, and added 1/2 cup chopped shallots to the butter remaining in the pan. I stirred these until browned and then spooned them onto the steaks. I then stirred into the butter (it is getting a workout here) 1t potato flour, 1C beef stock, and 1/2C beer. Actually, I used wheat flour and because we had no beef stock I used about 1/2 cup chicken stock, a bit of Worcestershire, and 1C beer. I stirred this until blended and a little bubbly, and then added 1/2t fresh thyme, 1t sugar, 2T fresh parsley (Vincent loved his parsley), and a bit of salt and pepper.

Vincent asks us to put the sauce in a gravy boat (thus revealing what this really is -- steak and gravy), but I used a little pitcher instead. Meanwhile, Pam had mashed a couple of potatoes (they are not just for Thanksgiving any more).

At this point, I will step back to the shopping for this dish. Careful readers of this blog might notice an increase in our use of beef about a year ago. This has been concomitant with our purchase of a Big Green Egg grill and with the availability of organic, grass-fed beef, mainly from a local farmer's market. We have often bought such a steak and then looked for a way to prepare it. This time, I went to the grocery store in search of a particular cut -- sirloin -- and settled for the most similar cut -- rib eye (I know, this is not so similar, but it was about the right thickness). All of the grass-fed beef available was in thick chunks that I did not think would be suitable. So I bought a couple of right-sized slices of ordinary steak.

Results: delicious gravy for the steak and potatoes, but not very inspiring flavor in the steak itself. Given the carbon and water footprint of steak, I want to have it only when it is going to be extraordinary. So I will make this dish again, but only with a more sustainable and delicious beef. And if I can figure out a way to grill rather than sautée, I will do that, too!

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