Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Veggies & Facing a Steak Fear
Dinners: January 15 & 16
I’ll admit it. Cooking a steak scares me. I believe I did it once or twice in the past, but I avoid it most of the time. How long to cook it on my handy stovetop grill? I like my steaks medium-rare, but undercooking it probably isn’t good for my health. Overcooking it makes it dry. How do I just leave it there for a few minutes without turning it constantly? It begs to be turned!
A few months ago, my local grocery store had a big sale on steaks, so I bought several individually wrapped pieces of beef and froze them. This week, I heard their call to be set free.
I also read up on how to grill a steak and swore that I would follow the rule of 3-4 minutes per side, NOT turning until that time, and letting the meat rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes after cooking but before cutting in to it. Discipline is not my strong suit, so that was harder that it may seem.
It worked. The first night, I had a boneless sirloin steak. The center was medium rare because I followed the instructions. However, from the center out, the steak was medium well. It was good, just a little too cooked on the outer portions.
The second night, I had a t-bone steak, and I mistakenly cooked it the same amount of time as the thicker steak the night before. It was medium well throughout, and therefore a bit dry. The t-bone also contained more fat, and it was tough to dig through it all for the lean parts.
I need to try harder with steak. First, I need to marinate so as to add flavor. Hopefully, that will tenderize a bit as well. Steaks require planning and time. Second, I should possibly reduce the cooking time by a half minute or so to ensure a medium rare slab o’ meat. Suggestions from meat connoisseurs are welcome in the comments section!
As for vegetable sides, I wanted to experiment with the simple. The first night, I took a red and a green pepper, sliced them, and put them on the grill with my steak. I simply left them on the grill for a few minutes per side, then transferred them to a plate, seasoned with salt and drizzled with olive oil. So simple and tasty!
The second night, I had two zucchini and a yellow squash to use, and I wanted to try out the new mandoline I received from my sister for Christmas. I decided to try something completely off the top of my head.
Basics: Cut grape tomatoes in half and layered bottom of casserole dish. Covered with layer of sliced zucchini, then grated parmesan cheese over it. Added a layer of sliced yellow squash, grated parmesan cheese, and a little olive oil. Added the final layer of zucchini, parmesan cheese, a little mozzarella cheese, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Cooked in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.
The veggie casserole was delicious! First, I must say that the mandolin slices like nobody’s business! It is now the coolest item in my kitchen besides my Dutch oven. I can’t wait to do some thinner slices of potatoes for some au gratin and experiment with other veggies. Back to this dish, there was only one problem: It was too liquidy. I’m going to assume the olive oil was unnecessary for starters, and I could’ve used some kind of layer of bread crumbs in there to soak up some of the other juices. Even with the liquidy consistency, though, the mix of vegetables and cheese was very good and made for a wonderful side dish to the beef.