My husband, Sam, is a real meat-and-potatoes kind of guy. He knows what he likes to eat, and it usually involves traditional – and often southern – comfort food. I love this about him, but sometimes it’s frustrating. He gets nervous when I try a new recipe that has an ingredient in it that he’s less familiar with. Miso is a great example. When I made misoyaki roast chicken, he was a good sport, but I could see the fear – terror, really – in his eyes when he saw the ingredients.
One weekend recently, I asked Sam to decide what he wanted for our Saturday evening dinner. The weekends are my time to get in the kitchen and experiment, and that weekend I wasn’t feeling very inspired. So I let him pick. And, my meat-and-potato-loving husband chose steak. Of course.
On the upside, he chose a recipe from Ad Hoc at Home, one of my favorite cookbooks lately. Even though Sam played it safe with a steak recipe, he chose one by Thomas Keller — and I couldn’t argue with that logic.
The recipe is really about the marinade. Warming the marinade on the stove caused the flavors from the herbs to mingle together and blend harmoniously. The delightful aroma of the olive oil, garlic, and herbs filled the kitchen. Keller’s recipe calls for skirt steak, but since Sam couldn’t find it at our grocery, he bought strip steak instead. In reality, any cut of steak would be fine for this recipe. We marinated the steak for about 4 hours and, though we thought about grilling the steaks, I decided to follow Keller’s method of starting on the stovetop then finishing in the oven.
The verdict? Simple – it was a great steak. The meat was perfectly tender, and I could taste hints of rosemary, garlic, and thyme from the marinade. Next time, I might try marinating the steak for longer – just to see what the difference in flavor is – and I might have my husband grill the steaks instead. After all, if he chooses the recipe, he should do a bit of the work, right?
Ad Hoc Marinated Strip Steak
Only slightly tweaked from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home recipe on page 53. Instead of skirt steak, I used strip steak. I also cut down the amount of steak from six servings to two servings.
Ingredients for Marinade:
6 thyme sprigs
2 eight-inch rosemary sprigs
4 small bay leaves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
5 garlic cloves, smashed, skin left on
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
Two 8 ounce steaks [We used strip steak, but you can use whatever cut you like.]
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 thyme sprigs
2 garlic cloves, smashed, skin left on
Combine the thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, peppercorns, garlic, and oil in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat and let the marinade cool to room temperature.
Trim steaks of any excess fat and discard. Cut the steaks crosswise into 2 to 3 equal pieces, depending on the size of the steaks. Put the steaks in a resealable plastic bag, add the marinade, and seal, squeezing out any excess air. Marinate for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours, in the refrigerator.
Remove the meat from the marinade and let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before cooking. Discard the marinade. Dry the meat with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; set a roasting rack in a roasting pan. (For this step I used a cooling rack like this one set in a half sheet pan.)
Heat some canola oil in a large frying pan over high heat. (Have a splatter screen ready.) When the oil shimmers, add half the meat and quickly brown the first side. Turn the meat and, working quickly, add 1 tablespoon of butter, 2 thyme sprigs, and 1 garlic clove, and brown the meat on the second side, basting constantly; the entire cooking process should only take about 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer the meat to the roasting rack and spoon the butter, garlic, and thyme over the top. Wipe the pan, and repeat with the remaining steaks.
Transfer the roasting rack and pan (or cooling rack and half sheet pan) to the oven and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the center of the meat registers 125 degrees. Remove from oven and let the meat rest on the rack in a warm place for about 10 minutes for medium-rare. (I cooked mine until a temperature of about 135 since I like my steak more on the medium side.) Serve, garnishing steaks with the garlic and thyme.