Monday, November 26, 2007

Let them eat steak

With the advent of very cold weather comes my need to hibernate. And eat a lot. Thanksgiving usually signals my taste buds to re-orient to rich starches, from mashed potatoes to pie. In an effort to pick my decadent meals wisely, I've gone back to my favorite diet: low carb. The only diet allowing unlimited portions. Sure, if you cheat, you've then eaten the type of meal typically reserved for midwestern farmers, whose manual labor allows them to burn off about 3000 calories per day, but if you don't cheat, the results can be good.

Which brings me to steak. Whole Foods and DiBruno's offer excellent cuts of my favorite, New York strip. Whole Foods offers "dry aged," which I actually find has a better flavor. While you're at DiBruno's (or your favorite upscale grocery store), don't forget to pick up soppressata and fresh mozzarella -- after all, you're on a diet, you shouldn't feel deprived. In any case, if you're not up to cooking or eating a three inch thick steak, any other New York strip will do; just watch that you pick one without a line of cartilage running through the middle. I am not a huge fan of Omaha Steaks, whose taste and size pales in comparison to Whole Foods, for roughly the same price.

I'd like to think I've perfected the preparation: sauteed. Melt a healthy slice of of butter (carb free! eat all you want!) in a standard frying pan (non-stick for easy clean-up, regular if you're going to do something fancy with the browned bits) and wait for it to bubble a bit. You should be on medium high heat. Add the steak. If more patient than I am, you should hear the crackling of meat when it hits the pan, a signal that the butter was sufficiently hot. If not, it's still okay. Partially cover for three to four minutes. I usually leave the lid "ajar" by about a centimeter so the meat doesn't steam, but you may not even need the lid if your steak is relatively thin. Turn the steak over and partially cover for three to four minutes more. Again, if patience is your virtue, after you remove the steak from the pan, let it sit 1-2 minutes to finish up. This gets you to medium rare, the temperature at which, if you bought an expensive steak, you should be eating it.

Then top. You can be really lazy and enjoy the saffron or garlic herb butter sold by Whole Foods. Melted on top of the steak, it's hard to match. Or get crazy and prepare a quick sauce of diced, sauteed shallots and reduced red wine in the same pan. If you're feeling decadent, sprinkle some Roquefort over the top. Dieting never tasted so good.

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