Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Liberty Steak

I'm not a hawk. I do have a healthy skepticism of the French war ethic (if you don't know the used French rifle joke, you should), but this title bears only the faintest allusion to the Liberty Fries of years past. It's a classic Steak au Poivre, but with bourbon, not cognac. Maker's Mark bourbon whiskey to be precise. The potatoes were roasted in duck fat (for that idea I thank our Western European friends), and the broccoli was steamed. The basic steak recipe came from James Beard's Theory & Practice of Good Cooking (1977), and upon looking up how to spell Poivre via Google, I saw this recipe from Julia Child and Jacques Pepin, which looks very good as well: The sides both came from the garden. Here's how it went down:

Roasted Potatoes
- Fingerling potatoes washed and cut in half
- Duck Fat (If you're in Cleveland, Kafumann Poultry in the West Side Market gets fresh ducks every now and then. When they do they sell globs of fat at a very reasonable price. It's render ready. Once rendered, it keeps well in the fridge or freezer.)
- Chopped Sage
- Chopped Parsley
- Crushed and chopped garlic
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Melt a hefty few tablespoons of duck fat in a oven safe pan (Perfect time to use cast iron.)
- Put potatoes in pan, mix with duck fat, and season
- Roast until tender to your taste
- Turn off oven, add sage, parsley, and garlic to potatoes in pan
- Put pan back into off but warm oven until ready to serve

- Strip steak (I much prefer to eat animals that led a happy life. That being said, I'm still not really into grass fed beef. Hormone free, on the other hand, is great if possible.)
- Peppercorns (I used Tallicherry Black Peppercorns loosely ground in a blade coffee grinder. My mortar and pestle are not very good, or I'd have used them.)
- High heat oil (I used Grape seed, but Canola or the like would be fine.)
- Butter
- Let steak get to room temp
- Push pepper into beef on both sides (James Beard says use the heel of your hand. Be careful not to totally crush the steak -- this isn't a cutlet.)
- Add salt
- Heat oil and butter together
- Sear steak, not forgetting to sear the steak on the sides (Searing the fat strip is essential, and its probably the best part of the meal. Also, assuming you don't put this in the oven, you may want to get rid of some of the rawness on the sides.)
- Remove steak and let rest -- don't clean the pan, leave it on the burner but lower the heat

- Diced shallots
- A bit of whiskey
- A bit of heavy cream
- Add shallots to uncleaned, still greasy, pan
- Sweat shallots, using a utensil to scrape up the fond with the shallots
- Raise heat
- Add some whiskey and ignite by tilting the pan into the flame (The CFT assumes no liability for burnt hair, eyebrows, homes, or apartments.)
- When whiskey has reduced some, add some cream
- When the consistency looks just a bit too runny, turn off the heat, but leave the pan on the still warm burner (It will thicken up some. Can thin out with a bit of cream if it turns out too thick, but you don't want too much cream in sauce.)

- Seriously?
- Steam

That's it. Slice the steak and arrange, hopefully better than me, with roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli. If it's not cooked enough, place in a 450 oven for a short bit.

What would I do differently? I'd add a drop of salt to the open part of the sliced steak on the plate, raise the heat for the potatoes to 450 for a few minutes after they're tender to brown them before turning off the heat and adding the herbs and garlic, and serve a good portion of the sauce on the side, not over the steak, for dipping -- the sauce is very nice. Bon appetit.

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