Valerie Makes Steak!

steakOk, so the photo is not so good… but it was delicious! I started out with this menu wanting to make one of the sides, pecorino budino. One of my absolute favorites, I first had this at Michael Chiarello’s old restaurant Tra Vigne, way back when he still owned it. There was something so yummy and comforting about it, something that reminds me of my childhood, although I still can’t figure out what. So I asked for the recipe, and they gave it to me! I haven’t been there in a few years now, but it has never disappointed. The budino (Italian for custard, or pudding), is actually incredibly easy to make – you just need to make sure you have an hour and a half to two hours, most of it non-active time. At Tra Vigne, they serve this as an appetizer with some asparagus and olives, but I left that part out since I was using it as a side dish. I got four 4oz servings from this recipe.

So I had my side dish chosen, and I decided that a nice steak would go well with it, and they had NY strip on sale at Balducci’s, so that’s what I got. I was going to do a sauteed chard to go with it, but I found Tuscan Kale, so I went with a recent favorite at my house, Kale Caesar Salad. I knew it was a gamble, as Father isn’t so keen on greens, but I hoped I could win him over with the tasty dressing. As for the steak, I used a newly found recipe for pomegranate-pinot sauce, except I used a Cote du Rhone, since we had one open. Creg usually cooks the steak in our house, so this was my chance to see how good I am at it, and it came out ok! Best part is that I had leftovers for the next day.

Budino Di Pecora, Tra Vigne

1 c. milk
1 c. cream
1 c. fresh, white bread crumbs (no crust) from baguette or Italian bread
1 c. grated Fulvi Pecorino cheese + a little to sprinkle on the unmolded budino
3 egg yolks
pinch of pepper
18 spears ofsmall-medium asparagus tough ends trimmed and stalks peeled (I left out the asparagus, lemon, and olives)
1 lemon
2 T chopped Gaeta olives

  • Heat milk, cream and Pecorino until it just simmers. Remove and strain through a chinois. Discard the cheese solids and save the strained cream. Add the fresh bread crumbs to the warm cream. Set aside to allow the crumbs to soften in the cream for 30 minutes.
  • Pour the cream mixture and a pinch of salt and pepper in the yolks and whisk until thoroughly incorporated.
  • Pour four ounces of the budino custard into well buttered ramekins and bake in a water bath for 1-1 1/2 hours at a temperature of 300 degrees or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. (I used a larger size ramekin, so mine were done in an hour, since they were not as thick)
  • Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. The resting is not imperative but is good for unmolding the budino.
  • Blanch the asparagus briefly in boiling water. Remove and place asparagus in a bowl. Toss with a little olive oil and grey salt. Grill over hot coals for 2 minutes just to singe the asparagus on one side.
  • Place three spears onto a Warm plate. Run a toothpick or thin knife around the outside of the custard to loosen from the sides of the ramekin. Unmold it onto a plate and finish with a great extra virgin olive oil chopped Gaeta olives and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Dino Kale Salad (aka Tuscan Kale)

1/2 Lemon (or a whole one if dry)
1 anchovy
2 Garlic Cloves
1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
6 tbsp Olive Oil (more or less)
1/2 cup Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 bunch Dino Kale, cut into strips

  • Combine the first 4 ingredients in a blender; purée until smooth. With machine running, slowly add oil to make a creamy dressing. Check consistency, and add more oil if needed. It should be thick, but not too much. Transfer dressing to a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill. DO AHEAD: Dressing can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.
  • Toss kale and dressing in a large bowl to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.

Steak with Pomegranate-Pinot Sauce (from Cooking Light, with some slight changes)

4 (4-ounce) beef tenderloin steaks, trimmed (I used NY Strip, since it was on sale. Made 2 steaks, and cut them up after resting to serve)
3/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
Cooking spray (I used olive oil)
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1/3 cup pinot noir or burgundy wine (I used Cote du Rhone)
1/3 cup pomegranate juice
1/3 cup fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
1 thyme sprig
1 1/2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces

  • Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle steaks evenly with salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add steaks to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. (I put them in a very hot oven to finish cooking because that’s what Creg does). Remove steaks from pan and let rest while you make the sauce.
  • Add shallots to pan; sauté 30 seconds. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, wine, juice, broth, and thyme sprig; bring to a boil.
  • Cook 7 minutes or until reduced to about 3 tablespoons. Remove from heat; discard thyme sprig. Add butter to sauce, stirring until butter melts. Serve sauce with steaks.

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