I did something new and different today—I cooked a steak for the very first time.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve cooked “steak” before—strips of beef for fajitas or a stir fry—but this evening, I attempted my first-ever, on-the-grill, melt-in-your-mouth, medium-rare, restaurant-worthy, expensive-cut steak. Cooking is my biggest stress outlet, and so, in the middle of what has been an extremely emotionally challenging week, it seemed only appropriate that I distract myself with a technical challenge: stepping outside my comfort zone of chicken, pastas and cheeses, and trying something entirely new.
This recipe was inspired by an absolutely divine steak dinner I shared with my boyfriend a week or so ago at one the more upscale restaurants in town; the sweet, smoky marsala sauce perfectly compliments the salt flavor of the marinade. Marsala is a type of wine that is frequently used in cooking; it is often compared to sherry. This is the kind I used:
As stated, we sprang for the (totally juicy and succulent) filet mignon, but I’m sure this sauce would be divine on any well-prepared cut of beef.
So, why should you take advice on preparing a steak from a self-admitted novice? Because, it came out absolutely perfect, the very first time…even by carnivorous-man-standards. This would be an ideal recipe choice for a date night in…I promise, you’ll completely forget you’re not actually at a fancy restaurant.
FILET MIGNON WITH A MUSHROOM & MARSALA WINE REDUCTION
-2 approximately 8-10oz cuts of desired steak
-Salt & pepper (to taste…but you’ll want a lot).
For the marinade:
-1/2 cup olive oil
-1/4 Cup Worcestershire sauce (or 1/8 cup each Wocestershire & steak sauce)
-2-3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (can be omitted altogether)
-3 tablespoons lemon juice
-1 large clove garlic, minced
For the sauce:
-1/4 cup olive oil
-2 shallots, finely chopped
-1 handful medium-sized white mushrooms, quartered.
-2 cups dry marsala wine
-1 cup beef stock
-1 stick of butter
-Fresh thyme (a teaspoon or two)
-Begin with the marinade, anywhere between 1 hour and 24 hours before you prepare the actual meal: combine all ingredients into a bowl, casserole dish or ziplock bag, and mix well. Add steak, and refrigerate for desired length of time.
**Important note: I highly recommend marinating the steak for as long as possible, for maximum flavor and tenderness; however, if you plan on marinating the steak for more than a couple hours, add the oil only in the last hour or so, otherwise it will solidify in the fridge and become somewhat pointless.
-After the appropriate time span is complete, remove steak from the fridge (still in marinade), and bring to room temperature. This can take anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour, but is an extremely important step—you don’t want to put a cold steak on the grill! Plan appropriately. The marsala sauce will take approximately 45 minutes to prepare and cook, so you already have something to do while you wait.
-Heat the 1/4 cup of oil in a large saucepan. Add the shallots and mushrooms, and gently (slightly lower than medium heat) cook them throughout, until they are tender and becoming translucent (not to mention smelling incredible).
-Now, add the wine to deglaze the pan. Let cook for a minute or so, before adding the beef stock and thyme. At this point, the consistency will be very broth-y and soup-like.
-Bring to a boil, and continue boiling until the sauce has reduced to about 1/3 its original volume; it should be a deep golden-brown in color.
-Add the stick of butter, and whisk until completely melted. The sauce should be creamy, but not thick like a gravy.
-Add salt and/or pepper to taste, and allow to simmer until ready to serve.
-When steaks have reached room temperature, remove from marinade and shake off any excess dripping. Coat each side with a layer of salt and fresh ground pepper, which will solidify into a delicious crust on the grill.
-Place steaks over the flame of a heated grill; keep a cup of water nearby in case of a flare-up that doesn’t die down on it’s own.
-The trick to a perfect, medium-rare steak is timing; cook steak for 3 minutes, then rotate 90º for an additional 2 minutes; flip, and repeat on the opposite side—approximately five minutes total on each side. Add a minute or two for medium, subtract for rare. **Very important note—do NOT poke or cut the meat, or you will release all the juices! Use tongs to flip, and be gentle.
-To test the doneness of the meat, press your finger into it—the longer it takes to rise back up, the less done it is. Medium will feel fairly firm to the touch, while medium-rare will imprint momentarily.
-Spoon marsala reduction over the steak, and serve.
Remember those Ruby Sensations potatoes from a few entries prior to this? Well, when roasted with olive oil, lemon juice and certain spices, they make a fantastic accompanying side dish:
LEMON-OREGANO ROASTED POTATOES
-1/4 cup olive oil
-2-3 tbs lemon juice
-6-8 bay leaves
-Oregano, salt & pepper (to taste)
-1 bag Ruby Sensations Potatoes
-Preheat oven to 400ºF.
-In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, oregano (be generous), salt and pepper
-Spread potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet, and pour oil mixture over them; toss to coat.
-Arrange bay leaves between potatoes.
-Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until tender.
Wine pairing: A good steak goes hand in hand with a bold red. A full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon would be a safe bet, but use your own judgement!
My boyfriend and I defaulted on our favorite red as of late—this wine is robust, with bold fruit flavor, slight woodiness and lots of spice (I love spicy reds)…and completely reasonably priced, too, at about $15 a pop! The bottle is also beautiful and sooooo Italian…it’s as picturesque as it is delicious!
…Now, aren’t you happy you saved your $30 and just stayed in?