February 18, 2008 by


Guess what — I fucking hate Valentine’s day.

Local restaurants (the real ones, not the chains) usually offer a pretty good V-day special — the Bridge Road Bistro comes to mind — but this year I decided to stay in, because 1, I can’t really justify dropping that much change on a fancy dinner this year, and 2, I don’t really like leaving the house after 5 p.m. on Valentines day.

So I made us some steaks. There’s really no easier way to feel like you’re eating well than cooking off 2 well marbled, expensive cuts of beef.

You can still fuck it up though. Which I’ve done enough times to learn how to not do it anymore. Pepper. Salt. About 3 minutes on each side in a dry cast iron skillet on medium-high heat — but that’s AFTER the skillet is already hot. And that’s only for the typical grocery store issue 3/4 inch thick steak. Much thicker than that, and the method changes if you want a medium-rare steak.

And since I didn’t burn the steak, I went ahead and made a pan sauce with, among other things, some red wine and shallots. Yes, it’s OK to do that in cast iron after it’s well seasoned.

There’s some polenta on the plate. I didn’t make that, which is probably why it turned out so well. Honestly, much prefer mashed potatoes with steak — but goddamitt if mashed potatoes aren’t fussy to make sometimes. I’m not always in the mood. Polenta, on the other hand, is luxurious, creamy starch that you can throw together in minutes.

Witness also, my first attempt at leeks vinaigrette. Not a winner. To start with, I fucked the leeks up. Forgive me, leeks aren’t something we really ate — EVER — when I was a kid. If I try this again, I won’t make the mistake of cutting them all the way apart, and I probably won’t be boiling them. And most importantly, I won’t be topping them with sauce gibriche — a downright dinosaur of a sauce that’s the classic vinaigrette for leeks vinaigrette. Hey, I thought I’d try it as written in Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook just once to see what I thought. I do that a lot.