Friday, November 04, 2005

Meat 'n Badadoes

Okay, I know that they are spelled p-o-t-a-t-o-e-s. But I'm not talking baby reds here, nor Idaho russerts. I'm talking the mother load that is (drum roll please!) the YUKON GOLD! Small with intensely sweet flesh, I prepare them the following way:

1. Get the SMALLEST potatoes you can find, maybe the size of medium plums or large walnuts.

2. Do NOT wash them, simply peel them and, if necessary, wipe with a paper towel, cutting them lengthwise into 4 wedges (each about 2 inches long).

3. In a large skillet add in 1/8 of an inch of good quality extra virgin olive oil. Let it get HOT.

4. Drop in the potatoes - make sure the pan is large enough to accomodate all of the potatoes on the bottom.

5. Let them sit in the oil frying about 4-7 minutes. After 4-7 minutes, shake the pan, turning them over if necessary. Keep repeating several times, always letting them sit (after the intial sitting) for 2-4 minutes.

You may put a lid on after the first two initial turns if you want. At the end of the cooking time you now have TWO options.

Option 1: You can lift them out of the pan with a slotted spoon, salt and pepper them and let them sit in a warm (250-300 degree oven) until you're ready to serve them.

Option 2: Drain off the excess oil, salt and pepper them, then add 5-6T of butter - less healthy, but divine.

At the end, if you are half-way competent, you should end up with potatoes that have a lovely crisp deep brown coating but with sweet, soft, luscious flesh inside.

Now homo edax likes to have these potatoes with skillet fried steak or chops. But homo edax, you say, how can I cook steak or chops without drying them out? What is the best method?

Simple: But you need a caste iron skillet (you can pick a nice big heavy one up at Target). First, preheat the oven to 475. Preheat the skillet with a layer of olive oil on the bottom of the pan (3-4 T), and heat to a very high temperature. Then take your steak or chop (you should be able to fit two in a pan) and sizzle it on each side for 3 minutes (your kitchen will be real smokey). You will know when to turn a steak or chop by lifting it with the tongs - if it has some give and doesn't stick to the pan, it's ready to be turned. After the meat has cooked, put the whole pan with the chops/meat/etc. in the oven 5-7 minutes (depending on size - if you have a real big bone in rib-eye it may take longer, though I've done it with sword fish which requires only 3 minutes or so, while a half chicken will take at least 30 minutes, maybe 45). When you take the meat out of the oven let it sit for 5 minutes (this allows it to cook a bit longer and the juices rise to the surface of the meat).

While cooking,you may want to put a lid on the pan to prevent a mess in the oven, and can even do it on top of the stove to prevent excess splatter - I always do both.

I prefer to get my steak and chops from Whole Foods - they're spendy but they know how to cut the meat to a proper thickness, and it makes a big difference. A pork chop cut to thinly will dry out and have a lousy taste and texture; you need that thick cut for the juices to properly flavor the meat. Supermarkets all cut their pork too thin, that's why I say Whole Foods is best. Veal chops, any cut of steak, and as I said swordfish will work. I've also done this with half a chicken and with chicken thighs.

You can also add all sorts of flavoring JUST BEFORE YOU PUT THE MEAT IN THE OVEN. For fish I like lemon and tarragon or parsley. For pork and chicken I use sage leaves from the garden.

If you want to be over the top, you can add butter at the end as well, something I am not above doing!

A hearty red wine is a must with this dinner. A warning though: I generally avoid Italian imports - I find them too thin and sassy. Homo Edax likes to taste the grape, likes it even more if he has the sensation that recalls the first time he tasted wine. Thus, the hot exotic and robust flavors of Spain and South American, the seductive accent of the French, and the bawdy earthiness of Australian reds suit his taste more (but more on that later!)

Those of you who know Homo Edax know that he LIKES Italian wine very much - when drunk in ITALY! But, as Italian is a difficult language to speak and to translate, so too the flavor of the grapes born in the earth of Vesuvius, Latium, and the Veneto, loose something between here and there: not that there aren't some great Italian whites and pro seccos you can find . . . but more on that later!

Coming up next: Cherry Almond Cake!

Mangia bene!

Homo edax


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