Tonight was the start of my Alton Brown Cooking Project. Since the first recipe was just a pan seared rib eye, I went ahead and made the second recipe – mashers. It should be noted that the recipes in the book are slightly different than the ones posted on the website.
The Pan Seared Rib Eye Steak
The cooking method for the rib eye was already pretty similar to how I’ve been cooking my steaks for the past year or so: canola oil, salt & pepper, sear & brown in a hot skillet and then finish in the oven. Come to think of it, I probably got the technique from watching an episode of Good Eats. The recipe calls for a cast iron pan, but we don’t have one. I used our skillet which only handles 400°, so I had to cook my steak for just a little longer than the recipe called for. The book mentions in a note that there will be smoke, but didn’t really specify when/where. As soon as you throw the steak down onto the pre-heated skillet, the smoke starts billowing. I really wasn’t expecting quite as much as there was. I had to work fast to open the windows within the time frame while the steak browned.
The book has a sketch and instructions of a resting rig created using a colander, two bowls and a pot lid (the website version of the recipe says to just cover with foil). Our colander was designed to fit specifically in our giant stock pot, and I didn’t want to break out that whole thing. We also have a steamer and a small hand held strainer that you hold on the edge of the pot and pour through. I decided to use the steamer in my rig. The sketch and instructions say to place the small bowl upside-down inside the larger bowl and rest the colander on top of that. In hindsight, I really should have flipped it right-side up. It would have provided the same balance and support, and would have caught more of the juices directly. Instead, some of the juices just sat on top of the bottom of the bowl.
Before I began, I realized that I had forgotten to pick up the blue/gorgonzola cheese that the “10 minutes more” recipe had called for. We also didn’t have cognac, but I had some marsala cooking wine as a substitute. The final taste may have been different from what Alton Brown had intended, but it still worked pretty well. The steak itself was tasty – but we’ve been buying filet mignon almost exclusively when we make steaks (we buy steaks once a month, don’t go thinking we eat filet and caviar every night) – as such, it just doesn’t have that buttery melt-in-your-mouth effect that I’ve grown accustomed to.
Pan Seared Rib Eye Steak Rating:
We’ve made Alton Brown’s creamy garlic mashed potatoes before. These were similar, but Emily could immediately tell that I had done something different than normal. The book says to just use two pounds of Russett potatoes, while the website mixes two types of potatoes. Beyond that, the recipes are pretty much the same. I’ve never heated the milk, or in this case – milks before mixing it into the potatoes. I know in theory that you’re trying to keep the milk from scalding as it hits the hot potatoes, but I’ve never had that happen in the past. Mixing the garlic in with the milk while it heats does probably help the flavor permeate through though.
The recipe says to pour and mix the heated milk into the potatoes a little at a time and stop when you have the consistency you’re looking for. It also notes that you’re looking for a mashed consistency, not whipped. Emily, however, likes her potatoes a little more whipped than mashed, and I need to remember that next time.
I purchased two steaks, but Emily doesn’t want to eat the second one, so I’ll make that later in the week. I’ll probably go ahead and pick up some blue cheese or gorgonzola but skip the cognac (we just won’t drink it). The book also provides a use for the leftover potatoes: masher cakes. I’ll probably go ahead and make those as a side for the steak.
Next up is a couple of egg dishes.