Sunday, May 4, 2008

Quick Meal #1: Steak & Bake

This is a favorite at my house. Mostly because it's so easy to do and you can substitute steak for chicken breast or a slice of fish if you want to switch it up.

What you'll need:
  • steak(s) (shell cut is what I use)
  • Idaho potato(es)
  • box(s) of frozen broccoli or other vegetable
  • boullion cube(s)
  • a frying pan

Step 1: Party of 3, 4 or 5?

How many people are you cooking for? If it's just you than get 1 steak, 1 box of frozen broccoli or other vegetable and 1 potato or a bag of them and you can use the rest later. Obviously if there are more people eating you'll need to get more food. For now, let's pretend that your roommates are cheap bastards and they can find their own damn dinner.

Step 2: The Steak and You

Let's face it. These days when people see a slab of raw meat they might as well be trying to translate ancient Aramaic to Snoop Dog slang. Usually the meat gets tossed in the fridge with the best of intentions, becomes lost behind the petrified kraft cheeze wedge and isn't noticed until it starts paying rent. There's a better way to waste five bucks. This isn't one of them.

Grab that frying pan! Put it on the stove and turn the heat to medium high. You won't use the medium high heat the whole time, just to get it going, then you'll turn it down when I tell you. Also, you don't need to use oil with steak because the fat around the edge does the job for you. (If you're using chicken it will need a bit of oil help, but I'll get into chicken in a later post. Right now I'm assuming you're a carnivore and you have a steak on hand.) After a while, hold your hand above the pan to see if it's heating up. Notice that the steak should NOT be in it yet. Wet your finger tips under the faucet and spritz the pan. If the water is bouncing all over the place like a teen aged girl at a Hanna Montana concert, slap on the steak. If the water just sits there like an over botoxed, Stepford house wife, it's not hot enough. Oooooooooh. Dissed.

With the pan ready and the meat in it, you're ready to time the steak. When the blood starts collecting on the uncooked side (5 or so minutes), flip it. After three or four minutes or when it looks like it's cooking too fast, turn the heat to medium. Always look at the meat. If it looks like it's cooking too fast or slow, play with the heat. This is something you feel more than know as fact. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, it's not like you're being graded anyway.

Step 3: Rare, Medium, Well.......well?

How do you know when you're done? Make a fist. No I mean it, do it right now. Ok, right where the base of your thumb meets the rest of your hand and the base of your index finger is the spot you're going to press. Keep your grip loose and press in that area. That is what rare/raw feels like. Tighten your grip reeeeeeeeeeaally hard. Imagine you have your boss's neck in your hand and he just called you a twat. Touch the same area as last time. That's what well done feels like. And if you actually strangled your boss while checking your meat – WELL DONE!! Now loosen up a bit, between the limp handshake and the death grip. That's about medium. When you press on the meat with your finger (be careful...) or spatula or whatever your turning it with, you'll feel some kind of resistance. The more resistance, the more well done it is and vice versa.

If you're still not sure, put the steak on the cutting board and cut it open. You can always put it back if it needs more time.

Step 4: What the #@$% is a boullion cube?

Well it's dry compressed stock either chicken, beef, fish or vegetable and you can find it near the spice section of your local grocery store. I use this when I make frozen broccoli or frozen spinach. It gives it flavor. If you got one of those ready made, sauce included, no brainer veggie frozen fun packs then you don't need the cube. Just follow the instructions on the package. That means you have to read it....maybe more than once. Normally I'd give people more credit but I've worked retail and I saw a whole lotta stupid come in and out of my “office.” But that's for another blog.

Take the broccoli out of the box, put it in a microwave safe dish, preferably with a lid but if not, no biggie. Dissolve one of the bullion cubes in about 2 tablespoons of water. If you're eye balling it, put enough water in the dish to coat the bottom and smush the cube around. Hot water makes it dissolve faster but you're throwing this into a microwave so it doesn't really matter. Ok, with veg and dissolved cube in the dish, throw it in the microwave, 3 min on high, then stir/break up and put in for another 3 min on high. You can do this while your steak is going, just keep an eye on it.

Step 5: No, potatoes do not need to cook for 20 minutes on 'burn to a crisp' setting

Another person I know, who shall remain nameless (you know who you are....) put a tater in the microwave for god knows how long and it caught on FIRE. Yes, it went up like a roman candle. If you have a potato setting, button, icon on your microwave, put your potato in and press this button. Mine does not. I give my 1 potato 3 minutes on high each side. Yes you have to turn it over – and it's hot so use a mitt or something.

Note: Make sure you scrub the potato before cooking it to get all the dirt off.

If you're doing more than one, obviously increase the time. When the fork goes right though with no hassle, it's done. Plate it.

So there you go. Steak, baked potato and vegetables that hopefully don't suck. Now just grab the A1 and tuck in.

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