Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Carpool Wars: Battle Steak!



Previously, on Carpool Wars...

Overhead shot of dining table littered with large plates covered with remnants of various pasta dishes, a few scattered pieces of blueberry pie with ice cream melting in places, and several EMPTY WINE BOTTLES.  A group of adults, clearly completely stuffed and showing the effects of the wine, are leaning back in their chairs, rubbing their bloated bellies with happiness.


(Raising glasses to toast)
You're on!

Quick montage of Battle Ribs! with properly dramatic, pulse-pounding soundtrack in the background.  Use clever editing to make people feel this has happened just last week, despite the fact that this particular battle happened in November*.

Three battles in.  A brand new driver in the mix**.   The most exciting Mom-on-Mom cooking competition in America hits a whole new level of fierceness tonight.  Who will win the coveted "Taste" prize?  Stay tuned.  

Overhead shot. We see the car turning a corner and overhear the conversation.

What do you want to bet that Cindy doesn't even make a real steak? 

Yeah, she'll probably make, like, duck, and call it steak.  Like the fish burgers.  

Or she could be making steak tartare...
A chorus of "Ews!" ensues, along with laughter.  MY HUSBAND looks worried.  I look calm but am secretly dismayed, because I know she will be making a real steak, and I am in trouble.

Close ups of succulent steaks. We hear CARPOOL MOMS murmuring in the background about their personal relationships with various butchers.  Smack talk all around**.

Christy D's two-inch thick NY steaks from a butcher that sells to the top restaurants in LA, basking in a balsamic-shallot-olive oil marinade.

Cindy's even thicker bone-in rib eyes, with her special skillet, artisan salts, and other spices.  Also bone marrow to be roasted alongside.  (The kids were a tiny bit right)

A clever entry from the new Christy: Flank steak marinated in a vibrant chimichurri sauce.  She's a ringer!

Sizzling everywhere.  Tantalizing smells are coming from the stove top, the oven and the grill. The guacamole has been demolished, the baked potato bar is being set up, and THE CARPOOL MOMS are well through the white wine and on to the red.


Platters of steak, laid out for the JUDGES to take the first pass through.

The judges are pleased.

The grilled balsamic NY steaks, with a decadent peppercorn cream sauce

The rib eye - finished in the oven with the marrow bones, a little thyme, and butter

The INSTIGATOR, enjoying the results of his diabolical plan (and the lack of steak tartare)

The votes come in, including a new category "Tenderness", added perhaps in a kind gesture to my steak, which was completely outclassed in every aspect but this one.

The WINNER for best tasting steak savors her victory by jumping up and down and screaming for joy****.  The OTHER MOMS are outwardly happy for her, each having won a category themselves*****, but we know better.  They waste no time in throwing down the gauntlet.

Don't miss the next exciting CARPOOL WARS: Battle Brunch!


Here are the recipes.
From Battle Ribs!

From Battle Steak!

How Cindy Cooks a Great Steak
This isn't a specific recipe, but more of a way to get a perfectly cooked steak.  You'll need a heavy-duty oven-proof skillet, coarse salt and pepper, butter and fresh thyme.   Preheat the oven to 400.  Season your steaks well with very coarse salt and lots of pepper.  This will help create an incredible crust on your steak.  Place the pan over very high heat until hot, almost smoking.   Add the steaks, and sear for a couple of minute on all sides, including the edges.   Add a half a stick of butter to the pan (it will sizzle), drop some fresh thyme springs on top of the steaks, and transfer the pan to the oven.   Roast for 5-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of your steaks, to reach desired doneness.  Cindy uses this method to test the steaks, which seemed to work really well!  Allow to rest for 5 minutes, then serve.

Cabernet Butter
1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-2 Tbs. good Cabernet wine
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

Mix all ingredients together with a spoon until completely blended and smooth.  Taste and adjust the salt level, then transfer the butter to a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper, and form in to a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Roll up gently, and refrigerate until firm.  To serve, place a slice of the butter on top of a sizzling steak. 

Click to print this recipe!

Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce 
For the chimichurri sauce: 
10 garlic cloves, peeled 
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, stemmed 
¾ c. olive oil 
¼ c. white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar 
¼ c. chicken broth or water 
¾ tsp. dried oregano 
¾ tsp. dried basil 
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, puree the garlic. Add the parsley and process until finely chopped. Add the oil, vinegar water or broth, and seasonings. Process to blend. Taste and adjust the seasonings. It should be very flavorful and spicy. 

About 2-3 lbs. of flank steaks, trimmed 
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper 

Use about ¼ of the sauce to quickly marinate the flank steaks, about an hour before serving. Remove steaks from the marinade, and grill over high heat to desired doneness, preferably medium rare. Allow to rest, then slice and serve sauce on the side. 

Click to print this recipe!

Best Tasting Marinated Steaks with Peppercorn Sauce

For the Marinade: 
1/4 c. good balsamic vinegar
3/4 c. good olive oil 
1/4 c. chopped shallots 

6 2" thick New York steaks 
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 

Combine marinade ingredients in a large non-reactive pan. Add the steaks, turning to coat, and allow to sit, covered, in the fridge for at least four hours, turning once halfway through. Bring steak to room temp before grilling. Remove from marinade and season generously with salt and pepper on both sides. 

Grill on high heat for 5-8 minutes per side, or to desired doneness. Rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving with the peppercorn sauce on the side. 

For the peppercorn sauce: 
Small amount of bacon fat, butter or olive oil 
6 small shallots, finely chopped
4 cups beef stock, cooked down and reduced to 2 cups 
2 c. whipping cream 
6 Tbs. of green peppercorns in brine (drained) 
6 Tbs. of brandy 

Heat bacon fat in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the shallots and cook until tender. Add remaining ingredients, and whisk to combine. Continue to cook, whisking frequently, until reduced by half. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Click to print this recipe!

* Yes.  I know.  I completely flaked on posting about Battle Ribs!, but you can watch it on reruns right here in this post, so it all works out.
** Sure, she can take six kids in the Highlander, but can she cook?
*** Conflict!  Should help ratings.
**** Will definitely help ratings.  Also provides good life lesson:  If at first you don't succeed, make a killer peppercorn sauce.
***** The rib eye and flank steak shared honors for creativity, the rib eye won for presentation, and my NY steak with Cabernet butter took the tenderness prize.

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