Winter Steak Dinners

The character of my cooking changes with the seasons. In warmer weather, it's hard not to be out in front of my grill each evening, charring an appropriately tastey bit of meat to perfection. While it never really gets that cold here, I have a number of indoor dishes I love such as Jambalaya that keeps me away from the grill. This page covers hearty steak dinners that are cooked indoors, rather than on the grill.

Winter Steak #1: Spicey Coffee Rubbed Steaks with Pomme Frites and Green Salad

French Bistro dining has a way of making the ordinary seem extraordinary. How else do you explain why a steak simply fried in a pan with some french fries on the side always tastes so good? This recipe is my way of mixing a little Texan into the French Bistro experience. While I refer to the steaks as "Spicey", that's more marketing than anything. Their flavor is mellow and well-rounded. You'll love this dish!

Spicey Coffee Rubbed Steaks

Vegetable Ingredients

4 bacon slices, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch pieces

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup 1/2-inch pieces drained roasted red peppers from the jar

Steaks

1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds

3 tablespoons whole espresso beans

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cinammon

6 8-ounce beef tenderloin (filets) steaks

1 tablespoon olive oil

Preparation

START WITH THE VEGETABLES:

Heat the skillet over high heat. Add bacon, sauteing until just crisp, stirring frequently. Should be about 4 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. In another skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, and cook until soft and beginning to brown, stirring frequently--probably about 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic. Saute another 15 minutes until the onions are soft and brown. Mix in the peppers and let stand up to 2 hours.

STEAKS:

Pressed in spices and ready to be seared...

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Stir fennel and coriander seeds in a small skillet over medium heat for about 1 minute, until they release their fragrance. Let cool. Finely grind the espresso beans and toasted spices in a spice mill. Transfer to a large plate, and add salt, pepper, cinammon, and chile powder. Press both sides of spice mixture into steaks to coat. Heat the oil in a heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the steaks for 2 minutes on a side. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook to desired doneness. 8 minutes is about right for medium rare.

Seared to perfection...

Mix the bacon into the onion-pepper mixture and saute until heated through, stirring occasionally. Should be about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the steaks to plates, and top with the vegetable mixture.

Pomme Frites

Who knew, by the way, that French Fries, aka Pomme Frites in French, were not even invented by the French?!?? It turns out the Belgians have the honor. They're served as a snack food by small vendors known as "Freitkok" (Fry Shack), in a little paper cone as shown with a dollap of creamy Mayonaise on top. Yum!

Ingredients

Potatoes

Peanut Oil

Salt and Pepper

Preparation

Cut the potatoes into 1/4" by 1/4" strips. You can leave the skin on or off as desired, but don't cut them any thinner. Thicker fries absorb less grease. Rinse the potatoes under cold water until the water runs clear. Put them in a large bowl, fill to cover with cold water, and add ice on top. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat the oil to 325 degrees F. Pat the potatoes dry, and fry them in the oil, a handful at a time. Too many fries will cool the oil too much. Cook them 6 or 8 minutes, until they're blond in color, and then remove them from the oil to drain on paper towels for at least 10 minutes up to 2 hours. While they drain would be a good time to do the steaks!

Just before serving the fries, heat the oil to 350 degrees F. Fry a second time, all at once if you prefer, until they are golden brown, about 1 minute. Transfer to a paper lined platter, salt and pepper, and serve immediately!

We like to use our Rotofryer for the frying as it uses a bit less oil than the traditional method of using a big stock pot. There's also a bit less drama. I remember one poker party where the host let his stock pot of hot oil boil over and we had a little grease fire. His wife was very upset, but his kitchen remodel turned out beautifully!

Green Salad

Ingredients

Mixed Greens

Craisins

Pecans or Walnuts, Chopped

Blue Cheese Crumbles

Raspberry Vinaigrette

Preparation

Because something here had to be at least marginally healthy, we add a green salad to the dinner. And, since I fussed so much with the other two components of the dinner, I'll make this with a store bought salad mix, adding the nuts, craisins (cranberry raisins), and blue cheese, and then I'll top it with a store-bought raspberry vinaigrette. I will take solace in two things. One, even though I'm not making from scratch, I will use the finest store-bought ingredients. Two, I've been behind the scenes at many a restaurant and most of them don't make everything from scratch either, although they do have access to more interesting already-made sauces and things than most of us see at the grocery store.

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All material 2001-2003, Robert W. Warfield.