In which the world of culinary hedonism is explored with a cup and a half of curiosity, a heaping tablespoon of passion and a dash of clumsiness.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thirty-first Post ~ Sage Marinade Steak with Goat Cheese

So today was one of those days where I was so focused on what I was doing that I basically forgot about food. Me. A foodie. During class tonight I became so discombob-ulated with hunger that I bumbled my way through a study review (Horvath et al., my apologies - I believe that by the end of it, the discussion had incorporated 30 male students, a deck of cards, a few drooling dogs, and Prisoner #819 doing a bad thing).

So immediately after class I headed to Wegmans. You know you've become a frequent customer at a place when you know everyone by name - or at least by attribute: Smiley Sushi Guy, Sweet Butcher Guy, Friendly Deli Lady, Awesome Cheese Lady, etc. So I made my way through my meet-n-greets and bombed around the produce section, also stocking up on the ingredients for tomorrow's lunch-sized Insalata Caprese along the way, and picked out some wonderful dirt-covered Crimini mushrooms and some vibrant green broccoli crowns. Then off to the butcher for some perfectly portioned sirloin steaks and then back around to the cheese shop for something that's been tempting me for the longest time - Palhais goat cheese buttons all wrapped up as cute as can be from Portugal.

So here's what you'll need for tonight's dinner:

~ Sirloin steak
~ Broccoli crowns
~ Mushrooms, washed and halved

For the steak marinade:
~ Wine - whatever you have laying around
~ Olive oil
~ Fresh sage
~ Balsamic vinegar
~ Salt/Pepper
~ Garlic

For the garnish:
~ Crumbled bit of Palhais goat cheese button (seriously - can cheese sound any cuter?)

All of tonight's flavorings are pretty intense in their own right - goat cheese, garlic, wine, sage... so I decided to tone everything down a bit so that the meal would be flavorful, but not overpowering. Follow these steps.

First, I peeled three small garlic cloves, put them in a foil boat, poured a bit of olive oil over them, salted/peppered and wrapped the whole thing up and put it under the broiler.

Then, I washed and halved the Crimini mushrooms. I set them to the side, and started on the marinade. Marinades are pretty simple. Within reason, you can add whatever you want, flexing your creative side, and they typically turn out good. I put some white wine in a prep bowl with some olive oil. I splashed a bit of balsamic vinegar into the bowl and added salt and pepper. Then I decided that I'd tone down the fresh sage a bit by adding it to the marinade rather than garnishing the steak with it when it was done. I stirred everything around a bit, then added the raw steak. I let it sit while I fixed the broccoli.

I know you can buy these newfangled contraptions that steam vegetables for you, but honestly, I've never understood why you'd need to spend extra money if you already have a bowl, some saran wrap, and running water. Just cut up the broccoli into a bowl, add a couple tablespoons of water, cover tightly, and pop in the microwave for 3-5 minutes. WATCH THE STEAM WHEN YOU OPEN THE BOWL. I only say this in caps because I burn myself frequently. Fortunately, I always have a bag of frozen coffee grounds in my freezer (freezing fresh ground coffee beans keeps it much fresher tasting) and it serves as a conveniently hand-shaped thing to grab to nurse one's burned hand. Stir the broccoli around a bit, and if it still has that "dirt" smell to it, steam it for another minute or so.

In the mean time, make a tin foil boat and put your marinated steak into it. Pour the extra marinade over it, and put it under your broiler. I always have better luck with steaks in the toaster oven broiler. I'm not sure why, but at this point in my life, I go with what works. Take the garlic out of the oven and add one roasted clove to the steak. If it's not soft yet, crush it in a garlic press. Even if it's not fully roasted, I still think the process cuts some of that harsh garlic taste that you get from freshly crushed cloves.

Put the steak under the broiler. As previously posted, I like my steak on the rare side. For a small sirloin like this, I cooked it for 7 minutes on one side and 5 on the other.

While it's cooking, I sautéed the mushrooms in the wine, garlic, salt and pepper. I used a leftover inch or two of Vetter Vineyard's Cracker Ridge Rose - my all-time favorite blush wine. It's sweet and jammy, and when used for cooking, compliments earthy tones in food, like these Italian mushrooms, which, up to a few minutes ago, still had the soil from their native land clinging to them.

Check the steak, check the broccoli, stir the mushrooms. Just as the steak is finishing, crumble some of the goat cheese on top. Pop back into the oven for a minute just to soften the cheese a bit more.

This goat cheese is extremely mild, which I think made it a perfect complement to all of the strong flavors in tonight's meal. Using the fresh sage in a marinade gave it a gentler aroma and flavor, and roasting the garlic made it sweet and warm rather than pungent and hot.

I paired tonight's meal with a 2005 Australian Merlot by Tall Poppy (Thanks, John H.!) As Australia is the newest of the new worlds, its wines are often very fruity. However, this Merlot was refreshingly sweet and balanced rather than cloyingly sweet. It gave my tastebuds a punch of fruitiness - ripe strawberries, cherries and raspberries. Again, it was a flavor that I've normally found to be extremely strong that was tamed a bit, if you will, to complement the meal rather than overpower it.

And I've got to take a moment to acknowledge the wonders of our modern world - one can, with minimal effort, enjoy a meal made with components enriched by their homelands of Portugal, the US, Italy and Australia. How amazing and wonderful is that?

Yours in the love of good food and wine,

The blogger is not an experienced chef. She takes no responsibility for the quality of the meals prepared while following her advice. Use your own judgment regarding cooking times and proper food handling.