Monday, October 26, 2009

Panfried Skirt Steaks with Red Wine Béarnaise Sauce

From Tips Cooks Love: Over 500 Tips, Techniques, and Shortcuts That Will Make You a Better Cook!, by Sur La Table, and Rick Rodgers

Serves 4

Skirt steak is one of the most flavorful cuts and can be quickly panfried in a skillet on the stove top. The sophisticated and easy béarnaise sauce—it’s made in a blender—gives the steak a nice touch of class. When you cook the steak, be sure to turn on the range hood to avoid smoking up the kitchen.

• 4 (7-ounce) skirt steaks
• 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
• ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

• ¼ cup hearty red wine, such as Cabernet-Shiraz blend
• ¼ cup red wine vinegar
• 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
• ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
• 3 large egg yolks
• 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
• Kosher salt

Trim a few pieces of fat from the steaks and reserve. Mix together the salt and pepper, and season the steaks all over with the mixture. Let the steaks stand at room temperature while you make the sauce.

To make the béarnaise sauce, combine the wine, vinegar, shallots, tarragon, and coarsely ground pepper in a small, nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the liquid is reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl, pressing hard on the solids to extract as much flavor as possible. Reserve the solids in the sieve.

Put the egg yolks and strained wine mixture in a blender. In a saucepan, bring the butter to a boil over medium heat. Pour the hot butter into a heatproof glass measuring cup. Skim the foam off the surface of the butter. With the blender running, slowly add the hot butter through the hole in the lid, leaving the milk solids in the measuring cup. It should take about 1 minute to add the butter. Then uncover the blender, add the reserved solids in the sieve, re-cover, and pulse just to combine. Season with salt. Transfer to the top part of a double boiler and keep warm for up to 30 minutes. (Or transfer the sauce to a warmed widemouthed Thermos and keep warm for up to 2 hours.)

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the reserved beef fat and use tongs to wipe a thin coating of fat over the entire bottom of the skillet. Remove and discard the fat. Add the steaks and cook, turning once, for about 5 minutes total for medium-rare, or until they are nicely browned on both sides and feel somewhat resilient when pressed in the center.

Transfer each steak to a dinner plate. Spoon the sauce into a serving bowl. Serve the steaks hot, and pass the sauce at the table.

Tips for Skirt Steak with Béarnaise Sauce

• A cast-iron skillet creates a beautiful crust on steaks.
• Grease the skillet with some of the beef fat.
• Keep béarnaise sauce warm in a double boiler or in a widemouthed Thermos.
• Use a nonreactive saucepan to cook the acidic ingredients for the sauce.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lamb Tagine with Artichoke Hearts, Dried Apricots, and Preserved Lemon

From Things Cooks Love: Implements. Ingredients. Recipes.

Prep 30 min | Cook time 2 hr | Serves 6

Lamb, artichokes, and dried fruit are a classic combination for a Moroccan tagine, but it is the bouquet of spices—saffron, cumin, ginger, coriander, cinnamon—that make this dish memorable. To savor the wonderful flavors in the sauce, spoon the tagine onto mounds of fluffy couscous (page 317). This recipe calls for browning the lamb, which you can do in a tagine if it is has a stainless steel–clad or castiron base. If your tagine is all earthenware, simply toss the meat with the ingredients and simmer in the tagine over low heat. Alternatively, brown the meat in a skillet and transfer it to the tagine for simmering, or prepare the entire dish in a Dutch oven or braiser.

Tagine, Cutting Board, Chef’s Knife, Paring Knife

2 to 2½ pounds trimmed, boneless lamb shoulder or lamb shank, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 teaspoons coarse salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups ¼-inch-thick yellow onion wedges
10 saffron threads
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 cup peeled, sliced (¼ inch) carrot
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth or water, plus more as needed
1 cup drained canned Italian plum tomatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 stems Italian parsley, plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped
2 stems cilantro, plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped
4 artichokes, preferably with stems, or 1 (10-ounce box) frozen artichoke hearts
1 lemon, halved
4 ounces (about 1 cup) dried apricot halves
2 tablespoons chopped preserved lemon rind (page 328)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint

1. Place the lamb in a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and toss to coat evenly. Set aside.
2. Heat a stainless steel–clad or cast-iron base of a tagine (see headnote for alternatives) over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle a piece of onion, increase the heat to medium, add the onion wedges, and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes, or until they wilt and begin to turn color. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the saffron, cumin, ginger and coriander.
3. Add the meat, carrot, and cinnamon to the onion, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, or until the meat begins to brown. Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, parsley and cilantro stems, and the saffron mixture and bring to a boil.
4. Place the lid on the tagine, decrease the heat to low, and cook, without disturbing the cover, for 1 ½ hours, adjusting the heat to keep the stew at a gentle simmer.
5. Meanwhile, if using fresh artichoke hearts, fill a medium bowl half full with water; squeeze the juice from a lemon half into the water, and add the spent lemon half to the water. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, pull the leaves back and tear them off where they meet at the base (bottom), until you reach the pale green inner leaves. (Reserve the leaves for another use.) Turn the artichoke on its side on a cutting board and, with a chef’s knife, cut the attached leaves off just where they meet the base. Cut the stem off the base and reserve. With a paring knife, trim the dark green outer layer from the base. With the tip of a spoon, scoop the fuzzy portion from the center and discard. Rub the trimmed artichoke bottom with the remaining lemon half. Cut the bottom into quarters and add to the lemon water. Peel the fibrous outer layer from the stem and cut crosswise into ½-inch lengths. Add to the lemon water. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.
6. After 1½ hours, test the meat for tenderness. It should be fork-tender. If it isn’t, simmer it a little longer and test again.
7. When the meat is tender, drain the fresh artichokes and add them, or add the frozen artichoke hearts, and the apricots. Re-cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until the fresh artichokes are tender, or only 10 minutes if using frozen artichoke hearts. Stir in the preserved lemon.
8. If the stew is swimming in liquid, use a slotted spoon to transfer the solids to a bowl, cover with aluminum foil, and place in an oven set at 200°F. Boil the liquid, uncovered, for 10 minutes, or until reduced slightly. Return the solids to the tagine.
9. Sprinkle the finely chopped parsley, cilantro, and mint over the top. Re-cover the tagine and carry it to the table.

Uncover and serve.