What I pulled out of my hat

The boys built me a storage shed so I built them a dinner! I honestly wasn’t prepared so I dug thru the freezer and came up with 2 steaks so I only had to shop for sides. I ended up with baking potatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, salad mix and prosciutto for their dinner and I got yellow onions, leeks, green onions, fresh garlic and carrots to make chicken stock with the chicken that we roasted earlier in the week.

I thought about getting fresh steaks since I was getting a late start on the meal but I completely forgot but that ended up being more than OK because I have some gadgets that make cooking from frozen not terribly difficult and it is one of these gadgets that we are going to talk about!

Sous-vide (pronounced Sue-Veed) is the process of vacuum sealing food and cooking it in a temperature controlled water bath. I have a home unit by Anova. It comes with a cookbook and detailed instructions. No, you don’t have to have a food saver type device, you can use a ziplock bag with all the air smooshed out.

sous vide

We have our ingredients and gadgets so we can get busy. I will lay this out in a logical way but I will tell you honestly I was doing 3 things at once and by the time I served them dinner both me and the kitchen were a mess!

The baked potatoes will take the longest so we will start here. I don’t do anything fancy to my taters just wash them, drizzle them with a little olive oil and salt and wrap in foil before sticking them in a 400 degree oven for forever, I mean at least an hour depending on the size of the potatoes.

For toppings I choose bacon, cheese, green onions and sour cream. I fried the bacon so I could get the grease to use on the asparagus later. I thinly sliced 2 of the green onions, the bulb and the green part for color and flavor. I cheated on the cheese and got a bag of a shredded Italian Blend that has mozzarella, provolone, parmesan, asiago and romano cheeses.

Meat. In this case New York Strip steaks. Mine were frozen so I was starting a bit behind the gun but the steps will be the same. I have a food saver so I made the bags and seasoned the meat with salt and pepper before I sealed them up. You can add any number of things to the bag if you like, I have sealed citrus slices in with chicken and herbs in with fish, but for this I wanted simple. Also because my steaks were frozen I let them hang out in the water bath for about 10 minutes before I started the sous-vide. Now, this method is going to cook your meat perfectly but there won’t be any color or crust or crisp to it so you want to under cook because the searing or broiling will also cook it. We like our steaks medium rare so I set the unit to 130 and let her go!

Alright. The taters are baking and the meat is in the bath so we can get on with the sides. I don’t like asparagus but everyone else does so I make it for them. This time I am going to use the bacon grease instead of olive oil for drizzling and wrap them in the prosciutto before I put them in the oven. I usually broil them so that the prosciutto gets a little crispy but I already have the oven on for the potatoes so I just stuck them in there with the taters for the last 10 or 15 minutes of their cook time.

Who likes a topping on their steak? The Boys!  Who worked a full day in the yard fueled only by beer and sandwiches? The Boys! Who gets a Marsala Mushroom sauce on their steaks? The Boys! I have been craving chicken Marsala but this is a beef dish so I wanted to see what would happen if I made a beefy Marsala sauce. I sliced the mushroom thin instead of into chunks like for the chicken version, sometimes a huge mushroom chunk makes too big of a bite with steaks but I did everything else the same way I would for the chicken version. Start with a bit of butter in a pan over medium heat and once the butter starts to sizzle add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and let them cook down for 5 or 6 minutes or until the butter is almost cooked away then lower the heat and add another bit of butter and let them go on low until the butter is almost cooked away again then add 1/4 to 1/2 half cup of beef broth and just let them barely simmer in the broth until it has reduced by half. Now we are going to do fancy things. Those bags that the steak is cooking in? They are going to have some juice in them and this juice is magic. We are going to pour the wine into the bags and swish it around so that we can get as much juice out of the bags as possible and we are going to put this juice in a little bowl for use in just a minute! Turn the heat back up to medium and get a good sizzle going and sprinkle about a teaspoon of flour into the mix  until it is dissolved and the sauce starts to thicken up and bubble, when we have a bubble we can add the wine meat juice mix! I used the Marsala cooking wine from the market but if you have a good wine store then by all means use the real stuff, you will end up with a more authentic flavor if you do. Since I have the supermarket kind of wine I only added 1/4 cup because it is a little vinegary and that isn’t the flavor we are really going for. Once the wine is in give it a few minutes on the medium high heat to cook the alcohol flavor off and then reduce to medium low and let it hang out with the mushrooms and get all friendly and yummy.

I also made an appetizer but the boys were too busy building to eat snacks so they got served with the dinner. I call these “campetizers” because I made them up on a camping trip with some odds and ends we had in the cooler. They are slices of seedless cucumber and roma tomatoes stacked on top of each other and topped with bleu cheese and pickled red onion and dressed with balsamic vinegar. I take the seeds out of the tomatoes so that it kind of becomes a bowl when set on top of the cucumber so the cheese has a little place to nest and not just fall everywhere! You could also add a kalamata olive to the mix if you wanted or some fresh basil.

So where are we? There is an appetizer, a steak topping,  prosciutto wrapped asparagus in the oven, baked potato baking but toppings of bacon, cheese, sour cream and green onion ready to go, steaks in a bath that should be ready to come out and be seared for color and finishing flavor and a salad that you dumped into bowls from a bag and topped with croutons.

Let’s sear this steak but let’s save a dish and use the pan we cooked the bacon in and add some flavor with the rest of that sexy bacon grease! This doesn’t need to take more than 3 minutes per side because we just want color and crisp and a chance to get another bit of flavor into the meat.

I think dinner is ready to serve! Steaks should be sexy, asparagus and potatoes should be ready, the salad and potato fixins are already ready so plate and enjoy!!


Thanks ya’ll!! Happy cooking!


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