Monday, August 31, 2009

Here in the Midwest, grilling meat is close to a religion! There are organizations, societies, fests, and contests for the millions of experts in the art of grilling meat. There have been thousands of books written on the subject, and television series based on grilling meat. But my favorite way is to pan-fry. Bring out Granny's big old heavy cast iron skillet and you are ready to fix a steak that will make you smile. (If you don't have a cast iron skillet, go to your local hardware store and buy several sizes. You will find you use them daily! I will add directions for "seasoning" your new skillet at he end of this blog.)

Back to MEAT!

Pan-fried T-Bone Steak
2 to 4 servings
2 pound T-bone steak (about 1 1/2 inches thick)
Coarsely ground black pepper
Kosher salt
1 to 2 tablespoons oil, I prefer peanut oil

About 1/2 hour before cooking the steak, bring it to room temperature.
Preheat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Lightly brush the steak all over with oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to high, add the steak and cook, turning once, until well browned, about 7 minutes for the first side, and 4 minutes on the second side, for medium-rare. Hold the steak with tongs and sear the edges. (An instant-read thermometer inserted perpendicularly into the steak registers 125 degrees F for medium rare.)
Transfer the steak to cutting board and cover loosely with foil. Let rest for 5 minutes.
Cut the tenderloin and strip from the bone, and slice against the grain. Transfer to a serving platter and serve au natural, with mustard, compound butter, or horseradish sauce.

My sister has always said

“Fried Potatoes can cure anything!”

Unfortunately, the frying thing has been accused of all sorts of bad stuff. Actually, the carbohydrate thing has been discussed in a negative fashion also. But truly, is there a food that soothes as well as fried potatoes? You have this plate of wonderful crispy-on –the –outside, creamy-on-the-inside, seasoned heartily with salt and pepper (oh, that’s right….salt is not good for you either) and for me, sliced onions. We might as well get right down to the nitty gritty here, I prefer mine fried in bacon grease! Now that I’ve sent the younger generation’s finger flying to the delete button, I want to ask one question…..What can an occasional plate of fried potatoes do to you? I’m not saying you should eat this everyday, not even once a week. I’m saying occasionally! You know you drive thru McDonalds for a quick lunch which includes French fries. Wouldn’t you rather have wonderful fried potatoes at home, fried in Granny’s iron skillet with real bacon? You are lying to yourself if you say you don’t want them!
Now that I have you either totally turned off with the bacon grease thing, or turned on with the crispy, creamy thing, I am going to share a recipe with you that is an amazing substitute for fried potatoes. Granted, there is no bacon grease, no onion, no using Granny’s skillet, but they are very good and will be perfect with my pan fried steak.

Baked Pommes Frites

6 russet potatoes, with or without skins, your choice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Peel potatoes and cut into half-inch thick slices (lengthwise) cut again into 1/2-inch thick fries. Place the potatoes into a pot with cold water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring up to a gentle boil and simmer until a paring knife tip goes through easily, cooked about 3/4 of the way through. Drain carefully and put potatoes in a bowl. Add olive oil, 1 tablespoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Toss well and lay out in 1 layer on baking sheet. Bake until light brown. Check for seasoning, adjust if needed by adding more while pommes frites are still hot.

How to season a cast iron skillet.

1. If the pan is new, be sure any adhesive label is completely removed.
2. Wash, rinse and dry the utensil.
3. Grease the inside surface with Crisco or other solid shortening. A medium-light coating, as you would grease a cake pan, is sufficient.
4. Put your greased utensil in a preheated 350°F oven for 1 hour.
5. Remove, cool and store the pan.
6. Never...NEVER put your skillet in the dishwasher! To clean, wipe it out with paper towels. If you feel you absolutely must wash it, rinse with a small amout of warm soapy water, rinse well, then dry extremely well!

You are going to use your cast iron skillt for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can fry perfect fried chicken or pork chops. You can use it to make high, light cornbread or pineapple upside down cake.....the list goes on and on.

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