Hey! The stove still works!

February 11, 2017

A pefectly acceptable dinner, for the first attempt in a couple of weeks.

A pefectly acceptable dinner, for the first attempt in a couple of weeks.

The above is the first meal I’ve cooked in what I believe to be about a week and a half. Maybe two weeks.

I don’t know that it was necessarily worth the wait, but it was a decent dinner to clean things out of the refrigerator that needed to be cleaned, in the wake of the other night’s shelf disaster. (As an aside, and an update to the shelf disaster, I am somewhat distraught that a replacement shelf will cost me about $75 to order from Kenmore and get it shipped here. I will likely wind up doing that, unless I luck up and find a cheaper one somewhere. Freakin’ highway robbery. But it’s been a good refrigerator for 10-ish years, so I shouldn’t complain.)

Anyway. This dinner. The mashed potatoes, which were standard mashed potatoes, done with a hand-held potato masher so they had lumps in ’em, which is fine by me, were good. The steak, which was what we used to call a “minute steak,” or a tenderized round steak, was cooked in homemade onion gravy, and it was good, too. The mushrooms — the mushrooms were a recipe I’d been wanting to try for a good while, but hadn’t gotten around to it, and I finally did, and they’re good, but the recipe wants tweaking a bit.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad dinner for one that took not a great deal of prep time, an  hour or so of simmering time, and certainly stood between us and starvation.

The meat. This is a good thing to do with a round steak, tenderized (which means it’s been run through a “jacquard” machine, which makes lots of little cuts that sever long muscle fibers and thus render the meat easier to chew when cooked) or otherwise. One salts, peppers and browns the meat in a skillet with some olive oil. One pours about half a cup of red wine over it, and lets that simmer, uncovered, until it’s reduced by about half. One adds a pint (in my case, because that’s what size it was frozen in, and it could’ve stood to be less) of beef stock and a cup of caramelized onions (because that’s what proportion I freeze them in). And one lets it cook for an hour or so on medium low, to get nice and tasty and tender.

If one does not, as I did, have caramelized onions in the freezer, one could brown the meat first, take it out of the pan, add onions, cook them until they were lightly caramelized, then add the steak back in, add the wine, and go from that point. I am still working on the last crock-pot full of onions I caramelized, albeit I reckon I’ll have to do the next one outside, because Child A raised unshirted hell with the way that batch smelled.

In all fairness, they DO smell fairly…potent. I’m contemplating doing the next batch in the Instant Pot, which doesn’t let as much smell escape, just to see how that works as far as caramelizing them in a shorter period of time. This batch took 18 hours in the crock pot, which produces some damn fine caramelized onions, but it does scent the house pretty strongly.

Essentially, this is little different than my French onion soup, which is the major use of the frozen caramelized onions. And it does nice things to the steak; it was fork-tender, and didn’t dry out, as round steak has a distressing tendency to do. I probably should have thickened the gravy somewhat, but, y’know what? I didn’t. Sue me. It was good. Not Sweet Baby Jesus good, but perfectly acceptable, and I’d make it again.

The plan was to stash it in the wounded fridge, and add it and the gravy to the vegetable soup planned for the following day. That didn’t happen, because I said hell with it and went to bed, leaving everything on the stove. The leftovers are now residing in the trash. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, and my apologies to the starving children in the Third World.

Mashed potatoes were, well, mashed potatoes. Mixture of Yukon Golds and redskins, because they were two pieces of older bags of potatoes that needed to be used. Peeled, diced big, boiled with some kosher salt. Drained. Mashed with butter, sour cream, heavy cream. Boom. Done. Hard to beat a good mashed potato.

But these mushrooms. These mushrooms have possibilities. Definite possibilities. The recipe is here. I varied from it in two regards: I did not add the bell pepper, because I loathe bell pepper in all applications. I could have used sweet banana peppers, my standard sub when I think something just HAS to have a pepper component, but I judged this dish did not need them. I didn’t miss ’em. And I subbed Heinz 57 for Worcestershire, because I have somehow allowed myself to Run Out of Worcestershire, which is a sin only to be eclipsed by running out of coffee, half-and-half, or butter. (And damned if I didn’t forget to get it at the grocery today, to boot.)

My only quarrel with the mushrooms, which were a mixture of standard white mushrooms and the brown “baby Bellas,” and are those Cremini, or what? I forget, was that they were two sweet. I was reading the recipe and thought to myself, “Self? A half-cup sounds like too much sugar for this.” And self said, “Well, it probably is, but go ahead and do it this time and you can adjust it next time.” And I figured that sounded good, as, after all, it had to offset a LOT of Dijon mustard, but I was right (and Self agrees). I’ll use 1/4 cup next time, if that much.

But these mushrooms are keepers. The sweet (albeit slightly-too-sweet), tangy sauce plays well with the earthy taste of the ‘shrooms, and is just generally really, really good. With reduced sugar, they ought to achieve Sweet Baby Jesus status. I could see ’em over couscous or grits as a vegetarian main dish, simmered with steak for a heavier entree, or over toast and topped with a poached egg for breakfast (which would’ve been a fine plan for the leftovers, had they not been too sweet). I think they’d be good in a quiche, too. Yep, we’ll be seeing these again.

You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em stand by for more kitchen adventures in the days to come, because y’know what? It’s getting to be King cake time. If I can ever find enough free time in a single stretch to get into the kitchen, that is.

 

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