Monday, September 21, 2009

French Finish

Even though Noe and I had been on the Vineyard all weekend, then sat on a very cold ferry, then rode in a car for two hours, then looked at some piglets at Fred and Julia's house, I still felt ambitious enough to tackle a Julia Child recipe for dinner on Sunday night. Granted, it was not a super-complicated or very lengthy recipe - it was simply "pan broiled steak" (although the term "pan broiled" makes no sense to me; I thought broiling was done under, well, a BROILER) with a red wine and butter sauce. I decided to make this not because it looked easy, but more because I was sort of craving red meat after a weekend of delicious sushi and fried seafood.

Bifteck Saute Marchand de Vins -
Fancy French for "beef cooked in a pan and sauced with red wine."
(Sorry about the shadow on the page.)

I bought a couple sirloin steaks at the grocery store (I know, I know - I am not supposed to shop at the supermarche - but convenience sometimes wins) and uncorked a bottle of Little Penguin Shiraz that had been sitting on my kitchen wine rack for awhile (cheap and Australian, yes, but also rated as a great bargain by Wine Spectator), poured a glass, and set to work.

The first thing I did was chop up the shallot and parsley I would need later in the recipe. I swear, onions and shallots get worse for me with every chop. This was one shallot and I was literally  IN TEARS.

Chopped shallot and parsley for use in the pan sauce

I threw some  butter and oil in a pan and heated it to what I assumed was hot enough (Julia had said that when the foam from the butter subsides, the pan is hot enough. I had to use my judgment as to when the foam had sufficiently subsided). At that point, the meat went into the pan and was cooked for about four minutes on each side, giving it a nice sear.

Steaks in a pan, seared on one side

Once the steaks were seared to medium-rare perfection (the little droplets of blood appeared on the surface, just like Julia said they would!) I set them aside, poured the fat from the pan into the fat jar (you know, the jar you keep under the sink for bacon drippings), then put the pan back on the heat and cooked up the shallot for a minute or two. Then came the wine.

Shallots, wine, and meat drippings - what's NOT to like?

I boiled the wine down to an "almost syrup-like" consistency. Then - this is the good part - I took the pan off heat, and - one spoonful at a time - stirred in four tablespoons of butter (I TOLD you it was good). Once the butter was stirred in and the sauce thickened, I threw in the parsley and we were ready to go.

Sauce - YUM.

All that  was left was to spoon the sauce over the steaks, add our sides (Noe made rice - surprise, surprise), pour a glass of wine, and enjoy.

The steaks were cooked perfectly - a nice sear on the outside and a great pink-to-red gradient on the inside. As for the sauce, it was good - buttery and rich - but Noe and I both actually thought it lacked depth. Noe thought I should have added a handful of garlic (but my personal rule is not to modify Julia until I try it the way she wrote it); I felt like I should have used a really meaty wine (like a big California cab) rather than a $7 Shiraz. There was nothing WRONG with it; we were both just looking for a little more.

Overall, I think this was a success - I liked the cooking method and Julia has several sauce and flavored butter options that I am definitely anxious to try. And I hope I haven't discouraged anyone from trying this one - Noe and I are just a little too accustomed to my normal heavy hand with garlic - for someone with all their taste buds still in tact, this has ample flavor to please.

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