Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Pre-Emptive Steak

"Chet writes science fiction. His book is going well but his life has jumped the outline in this engrossing exploration of the addiction, power and danger of dwelling in the imagination." - Humana Festival blurb for Anne Washburn's " A Devil at Noon"

Dear Mouse,

Hello from Louisville KY! I am here for two months, embarking on a journey of science-fiction romance with witty dialogue, interdimensional travel, and mime sequences.

Speaking of the dangers of dwelling in the imagination, I'm having deja vu for more reasons than one. One, I'm doing this play again, though it's an actual production!! for the first time. Two, this is the first repeat of my travels (I blogged from here in 2009). Three, if the bed weren't different I would swear this is the EXACT same apartment I had last time, complete with giant-armoire-enclosed-tv, wall to wall yellow carpet, yellow walls, plastic plants, and a small balcony (!!) with a really impressive, twinkly view of the whole night city. (Maybe it's just a new bed.) And, Four, I can already feel an apology coming on - a Blogpology? - about not having enough to write about for a while. Rehearsal begins at 9AM tomorrow! and fills our days thereafter til we open on Feb 27. And I hope/imagine many evenings will be filled with new people and new plays. I am so excited. Also, at 9PM, I'm already ready for bed, which concerns me. (Well, it was a travel day.) The volunteers who picked us up at the airport took us to the grocery store where I bought all the ingredients for your Fiance's Picadillo, thinking that'd be an exciting, and easy, first night dinner.

... 20 minutes later I had microwaved a Lean Cuisine pizza, steamed some broccoli, and unwrapped an "Almond Dream: 'Little Dreamers' " frozen nondairy dessert sandwich. My point is that this does not bode well for exciting culinary adventures.

In my (pre-emptive) defense, however, I'd like to show the court what I am working with here:

Exhibit A:

Not a bad kitchen, right? Ooh, look at all these cabinets! Can you guess what's in them?

Did you say "Nothing"? You're right!

Well that's not fair. There's a pot and a pan. A knife. All the basics. I'm just pointing out my handicaps (no baking/roasting pan, measuring cup/spoon... )But last time I did blog about rolling out pie crust with a beer bottle, so ... this might be good, actually.

Exhibit B:

Have you ever seen the like of this before?

No, this is not Ground Control. Or, well, it is. Of the stove.

So to get ahead of the game, I want to make sure to share this recipe I just learned. I made it for myself the night before I left town, and it could. not. be. easier.

The Mother, concerned for some reason that I didn't have enough food in the house (when I was about to leave town for two months), had dropped by with chicken sausage, turkey chili, bean soup, and two individually wrapped shell steaks, pleading indecision. I explained I only had one meal left to make and thanked her, keeping one of the shell steaks.

This is great for a busy or late weeknight when chopping one shallot already seems like enough of a challenge (that's as hard as it gets).

The Boo's Steak for One
(yes, lifted from Sarah Leah Chase's "Cold Weather Cooking", which is just what this is)

1 shell steak, 1-in thick (mine was. you can adjust time in the pan of course if thinner)
kosher salt
1 shallot, minced
1/2 C balsamic vinegar
1-2 tbsp butter
That's It.

Sprinkle kosher salt generously* over the bottom of a skillet with the heat on high.

(*Maybe it's because I was using the large-crystal rock salt type, but I would like to offer a caution to not be TOO generous with salt here. It's going to form a crust on the meat, which is Uh-MAZing, but also has the potential to, well, kind of kill you with salt.)

When the salt crystals begin to jump up off the pan (!), throw the steak in.
Sear on one side about 4 min for med rare. Bottom will be brown and crusted.
Flip it over and sear another 4 min.
Take it out of the pan and keep it warm on a plate.
Minced shallot into the pan for 30 sec.
Pour balsamic into the pan. It will steam up - maybe shield your eyes here.
Boil until reduced to around 2 tbsp balsamic syrupy reduction.
Turn off heat, swirl in butter til melted.
Pour it over your steak. Eat.

I ate this with steamed broccoli on the side (also fabulous with the sauce), and grated parmesan on top. I think it'd also be great over a bed of arugula.
I'll leave you with another pre-emptive measure, good for this kind of travel -

The Pill-Dispenser-Turned-Spice-Rack. Fits neatly in the suitcase. A brilliant idea from Mrs. Poet. (Left to Right: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, red pepper, cayenne, thyme, italian herb mix).

There may be hope for this kitchen yet.


The Boo


Anonymous said...

just took a steak out of the freezer! this sounded too tempting (and too easy) to pass up - thanks

love hearing about your adventures in this blog.

Kerrin said...

That is a REALLY good idea with the spices. Thanks for passing it on....