There are times in this carnivorous woman’s life when she absolutely needs meat. Last night was one of those nights. If I looked back over my past posts, I’m sure I’ll see a few where I’ve opened with this sentiment before, and I’m quite sure I’ll do so again. (Check back in a month.) That doesn’t change the fact that last night’s meatstravaganza was essentially a blue plate dinner: steak, spinach, and fries. But since it was one of Lolita’s meatstravaganzas, the steak was a crusty seared medium-rare ribeye bathed in shiitake mushrooms drowning in brandy and cream, the spinach was melted with nutty manchego cheese, and the fries were EVOO roasted sweet potato spears — all three offerings several orders of magnitude better than one’s typical diner fare. And all just the ticket to replenish my dwindling energy. Today, I’m a powerhouse of cow-fueled enthusiasm. Thanks, Bessie! You were delicious…
Steak with Drunken Shiitake Cream, Manchego Spinach, and Sweet Potato Spears
1 nice, thick cut ribeye steak
1 small, narrow long sweet potato
4oz shiitake mushrooms
4-6oz baby spinach
1/2 cup shredded manchego cheese
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
sea salt, cracked black pepper
As you can see, almost all of my ingredients came from Trader Joe’s down the street, where the husbandman now has a part-time job while he goes to school (and where he was while I enjoyed this meal solo). I never used to buy their meats, preferring to get mine from Whole Foods around the corner, but we need the discount so I’ve been trying them out lately. I have to say, I’m pretty impressed! This was a beautiful steak.
This could almost qualify as a weeknight wondermeal, since I had it finished within 30 minutes, but there are a few too many ingredients and cookware needed to really make the grade. Still, it was fairly simple to make, especially considering the excellent result. At any rate, roasting the sweet potato was going to take the longest period of time, so I started by washing it and slicing it into 8 spears. These get tossed with EVOO, salt, and pepper, and laid out on a baking sheet. I pop ‘em in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, during which time I make everything else.
Steak. All I add to it is some fresh cracked black pepper. I throw it into a medium hot non-stick pan, and I use the flip once-a-minute technique to capture all those lovely juices, and to sear it to a perfect medium rare. This takes about 10 flips total – for about 5 minutes on each side.
When it’s almost ready, I get my spinach started by simply throwing it all into a hot pan, and tossing it until it wilts. No water – no butter – just spinach and heat. It actually sort of melts on its own, and releases its own juices, but I want a drier product than a typical creamed spinach which is why I’m prepping it this way this time.
As the spinach starts to reduce, and when my steak is done, I move it to a warm plate and keep it covered while I make the sauce. I start with a minced shallot, sauteed until translucent in a glug of EVOO.
I then add my washed and patted dry shiitake mushrooms, which I’m keeping whole. Unlike crimini or white mushrooms, which have plumper caps and take longer to soften, I throw these in whole, along with half of my brandy to get them started. I toss this very well, distributing the heat, so that my mushrooms can wilt and soften.
My tender, chewy mushrooms have soaked up all that brandy, scenting them with floral sweetness, imbuing the cream sauce with delightful nuances. The bed of spinach which props up my juicy bloody steak is a delicious balance of vetegal greenness and nutty Spanish cheese, and the caramelized potato spears provide just the right amount of starch to the plate. The perfect bite is a forkful with a bit of everything on it: ribeye, ‘shroom, cream, veg, and potato. All the right stuff for dinner, made just the right way. ’Nuff said.