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Valentine’s Day – Keeping it Simple

Valentine’s Day – Keeping it Simple

This Valentine’s Day I wanted to relax and not spend all my time in the kitchen, but I still wanted to eat well and we did not want to try and eat out.

Today we are having a late lunch of steak and salad. Later we will have snacks and finger foods – sharp cheddar, pepper jack, black olives, strawberries, popcorn, etc.

The steaks are amazingly quick and easy and when paired with just the salad, not too heavy. Plus, we’re eating our biggest meal early enough that it won’t make us sleepy for the rest of the evening.

I am pairing a shiraz with the steaks and pinot grigio with the snacks.

We also have individual, heart shaped chocolate cakes (I very rarely do desserts). These were a last minute thing from the grocery store.

Cooking Steak

Cooking Steak

I love steak, but over the years I have had a terrible time getting the right doneness consistently. Honestly, I still struggle with it, but I am getting a better feel for it.

If you are confused and feel like you’re getting mixed messages on temperatures and doneness of beef, it’s because the rules have changed. What has traditionally been called rare is no longer considered safe.

Personally, I like my meat rare. The real rare that’s pretty red and bloody. One reason that overcooked beef is so unbearable is that it is hard to find good beef. Most of the stuff sold in grocery stores comes out tough and dry – even T-bones (and don’t even get me started on Wal-Mart meat!).

Last night I was shooting for rare and got somewhere between medium-rare and medium. It was still very good! The steaks were about an inch thick or just under.

Here’s how I did it.

First I let the steaks sit out for about 20 or 30 minutes, to bring them closer to room temperature. I preheated the oven on broil, with the broiler pan in the oven so it would get hot, too.

Rub the steaks with olive oil on both sides, and coat with onion powder and coarse fresh ground pepper on top. When the oven is hot, put them both in the broiler pan. Broil for 3 minutes. Flip. Broil for 3 more minutes, then without opening the oven, switch it to bake at 500 degrees and leave them in for 1 more minute.

Remove from oven to plates. This is important! If you leave them in the hot broiler pan they will cook way too much! Let them rest for 10 minutes. They continue to cook while they rest.

Normally I used a meat thermometer to check for doneness, testing them before I take them out of the oven. If you do that, be sure to take them out when they are about 10 degrees cooler than you want them, because they will continue to heat up inside and cook more while they sit.

I decided to take my chances and skip the thermometer this time. I decided that if they weren’t done enough I could always cook them some more in a skillet after they were cut up. They turned out a little more done than I really wanted, but still very good. Although the steaks looked comparable, one was more done than the other.

A NOTE ON SALTING MEAT. I have always been a firm believer in salting meat before you cook it. It makes for great flavor, especially if you heavily salt a roast. However, I read that it will dry out the meat, so I decided to try skipping the salt. So far I find that it is true! The meat is much juicier and more tender if I do not salt it before cooking. The flavor is still good, too.