I don’t post recipes on here very often, for two reasons:
1. I usually balk at the often-obnoxious trend of people photographing their food. (And I will freely admit that I am often a hypocrite in this area.)
2. When cooking, especially something new, I get caught up in a “zone” and don’t take the time to stop and photograph my progress.
But I’m making an exception today. This past weekend, I was up at my dad’s, and in addition to the usual supply of back copies of libertarian-leaning magazines, I also left with several back issues of Cook’s Illustrated. I’ve gotten the annual hardback copies from them for Christmas in 2011 and 2012, but in spite of my love for cooking (it ranks right up there with fiction writing as my most effective antidepressant) I never cracked them due to intimidation. This time, however, I flipped through some pages, making inhuman noises for which my stepmother later made fun of me (and which I later described as “human-but-damn-yo-keep-that-behind-closed-doors” noises).
Today, I decided to try the Steak au Poivre recipe, a venture into the unknown in three ways:
1. My first Cook’s Illustrated recipe
2. My first time cooking steak (I’m usually a chicken or ground-beef gal)
3. My first time cooking with brandy
As I said, I get into the zone, so I don’t have any photographs except for the finished product. But I’m just going to say right now, if this doesn’t inspire you to try it yourself, a midway picture of an uncooked, bloody, pepper-encrusted slab of meat probably won’t do the trick.
. . .
The steak recipe (including the brandy sauce, which you don’t want to skip), is from Cook’s Illustrated, but a free version can be found here.
The crispy-baked kale I made by spreading out some curly kale (or any kale) in a baking pan, spritzing it evenly with cooking oil (I used Pam) and sprinkling it with some seasoned salt. Shake the pan a bit—make sure as much of the kale is lightly oiled as possible—then throw it into the oven, preheated to 350. Check the kale every 5 minutes, tossing it gently with a turner or spatula, until the very edges are a bit brown and it has reached desired crispness. Although delicious and delicate and nutritious, it gets cold really quickly, so try to time it so that it’s the last thing you pull out and put on the plate.
The mashed potatoes came from a recipe inside my head and adapted from my mother’s method—and in fact the ones in the picture above are two-day-old leftovers. After washing your choice of potatoes and removing however much you want of the skins (I usually keep a little bit on for texture), boil them (mine were regular russet ‘taters) until a fork goes through them with just about no effort. Drain them, keeping them in the pan, and return the pan to the stovetop, heating for just a teeny bit longer if there’s some water left on the bottom. As they dry out, without letting them get too dry, break the ‘taters with a fork into smaller pieces. Turn off the heat, and either transfer them to a bowl that can stand some abuse, or leave them in the pan if the pan’s a tough (and not nonstick) one. You can use a potato masher, but I like to use my hand mixer. After throwing in a little milk, butter, and salt, beat the potatoes like Oliver Twist in the workhouse, stopping occasionally to add whatever combination of milk/cream/half-and-half/butter/salt/pepper you need to achieve the taste and texture you want. When you’re happy with the results, slap a scoop onto the plate alongside the steak and kale. (The brandy sauce makes a good potato gravy too.)
And there you have it, the “secret” to my effing delicious dinner tonight.