By The New Guy
Your humble Editor has many reasons to be thankful to be chained to his Anchor, but there is one in particular for which he thanks his lucky stars: She does not care for Valentines Day. Isn’t that the greatest?
That doesn't mean that they haven’t developed a sort of ritual for the most saccharine and silly of the Alleged Holiday category. Lately, it’s been staying at home and cooking something on which they normally wouldn’t spend the bucks. The Editor, thanks to his day job, has picked up a few skills in the kitchen (which doesn’t mean he’s great), and his devoted Anchor is no slouch converting groceries either (she's better). But on Valentines, for reasons he can’t recall, he’s usually manning the stove. In the past for the non-event, he’s cooked up beef tenderloin, much to the Anchor’s delight. (Which marks a second trait the editor is thankful to have in a spouse: enjoys meat). He yanked from the dusty archives of his brain a recipe by the venerable Mark Bittman of the New York Times: Steak Diane for Two.
In the Editor’s experience, one really has to want to fuck up a tenderloin to fuck up a tenderloin. In his humble opinion, it comes down to buying a good hunk of meat and getting out of the way. He’s on a grass-fed jag of late, but it’s hard to find tenderloin on short notice, so he went with the standard, corn fed dead cow found at Kowalski’s. They have decent mammal tissue, but the fish he shies from, and devotes his dollars in that department to Coastal Seafood.
So there they are, the mounds of meat. $25 per pound. Ouch. The steaks weighed out to be about 8.5 ounces a piece, so the Editor sliced ’em both down to six ouncers for the meal (the leftover slabs made a nice, quick appetizer the next evening).
So, from the Editor's pocked memory: Salt and generous fresh ground pepper on the meat, olive oil in the pan, sear and cook for a bit, and that’s pretty much it. The sauce is equally simple: butter, finely diced shallot and some sliced shitaakes if you’ve got ’em, sautée for a bit, then add a bit of teaspoons (or thereabouts) of Dijon mustard and Worcester sauce, about a half-cup of half and half (eyeballed for desired consistency), and that’s about it. Salt and pepper to taste. Throw the steaks back in to and finish cooking to medium rare (just a couple minutes MAX per side over medium heat), thicken the sauce, and done. Pile 'shrooms and sauce on top of steak. Easy. Fast. The Editor, given that the sauce was heavy enough, decided some quartered red potatoes, quartered, tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary then roasted at 375 until done was a decent, healthy, lighter side, along with a mixed green salad. Have the taters roasting while you do the steaks and sauce. The whole deal is about 20 minutes.
Not too shabby. Apologies for the lighting, I neglected to reset the ol' white balance in the camera from a previous shoot.
Bless the New York Times, though. Here’s a link to the original recipe. Turns out the memory still holds stuff reasonably well.
Wine? Sure. A big bomb red like a decent cabernet sauvignon is a predictable choice, but the Editor has found recent pleastantries (and bargains) with Bordeauxs, and their extreme versatility makes them nice choices for a drink on their own or other meals. But for this meal, the Editor and Anchor went with a German sparking wine. Sparkling wine, you say? Shush. There are many sparkling wines out there, cavas and proseccos included, made in the traditional Champagne method that are excellent, and usually more affordable. It's the editor's humble opinion that more sparkling wine should be drunk with everything—they are light, yet with their dry snap and acidity, able to cut through heavy proteins and fat-laden meals. And they're just fun.
Perhaps another post on that subjet is in order...