In the interest of loping, rolling, multi-faceted family meal omnivorousness and all that, we had our weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) family meal of steak, a ton of a hearty vegetable (broccoli), and the classic house-starch: toasted country white (it’s amazing how many inventive cuts one is inspired to employ in the pursuit of a convenient yet not too redundant-seeming starch; here I cut the toast lengthwise. Genius, right?). I’ve been experimenting with judicious (okay, copious) uses of fats recently: olive oil mostly, butter less so. Tonight we experimented with the power of both and felt extremely satisfied as a result.
During this midweek, 40 minute gastrokid family meal I used two techniques I’d recently read in cookbooks from two extremely talented chefs: one, a foaming butter with which to baste the beef (thanks Gordon Ramsay) and two, a last minute thyme infusion to flavor the butter (hats off, Tom Colicchio).
This meal was all about heat and fat. You might call the broccoli dish here a broccoli confit, for the amount of oil I cook it in. And you might call this steak butter steak, for the amount of butter I use on it. But in a continental/Asian/anywhere but supersizedwhere sort of mindset, we treat the steak as a collaborative condiment of sorts, not the main even, and we split a good strip steak four ways and are not left wanting. And here is why…
To get the meal started, I cranked two burners full bore. I placed a pan on each. One pan was loaded with a few tablespoons canola oil (this one was for the steak). The other pan was loaded with more than a few tablespoons olive oil (this was for the broccoli, which I’d sliced up, starting at the stalk, which I sliced into quarter inch medallions, eventually moving up to the florets, which I left uncut, breaking them up gently with my hands).
Meanwhile, I toasted 4 thick slices country white in the toaster.
When the pans were smoking I added a couple of cloves garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes, then the broccoli to one. I let that just sear for a while. The garlic started toasting. The broccoli started browning a bit. Softening mostly. I tossed some salt over it all. I let it sit. i let it brown. I stirred it here and there. Meanwhile…
In the other pan, I placed the steak, which I’d seasoned heartily with kosher salt and pepper. I darkened that sucker on one side, then the other, then the edges, then the ends. As it firmed up, I put a big, 2-inch thick piece of butter. It foamed. I basted the steak with a spoon, I turned it, I let it and the butter become close friends. When the steak felt medium rare (firmish but yielding to the touch) I threw in a handful of thyme sprigs. They popped. They spattered. They flavored the butter. I took the steak and time sprigs out and put them on a cutting board (with tongs, natch).
After about 7 minutes (but who’s counting?) I sliced the steak, and plated it all up.
At the table 5 year old Violet licked the salty butter off the thyme sprigs and asked whether the thyme was a plant. We confirmed this. She said Yummy. Always nice to hear. 2 year old Desmond copied her but seemed earnest in his praise as well.
Cleaning up I spied a good quarter inch of thyme-y, browned butter in the sautee pan. I dipped in a stray bit of toast. Man, was that good. A poor man’s imitation of a roasted bit of bone marrow, or a pillowy approximation of a yorkshire pudding. Beefy loveliness.
Oh yes: the broccoli. Browned as it was in spots, olive oily rich and garlicy as it was everywhere. Now why would anyone ever steam it? Okay. I know why they would. But cooked this way this was almost as good as meat.
And what did we drink? Ice water with lemon for the kids. The adults had cheap Barbera d”Alba that, in this context, tasted like a million bucks.