2017-02-11 / Food

Romance and red meat

A Valentine's Day memoir
By ALAN BENNETT
Staff Writer

Dear Readers:

“Happy” Valentine’s Day. I guess.

I say “happy” because Valentine’s Day and I have a somewhat tumultuous relationship. For some, it’s a day to celebrate the undying love between them and their partners, staring into each other’s eyes, feeding each other chocolates and basking in another’s glory under a starlit sky.

Then there’s us: the singles.

On Valentine’s Day, you’ll find us at home, curled up on the couch with — well, anything really: a box of chocolates we unashamedly ate entirely on our own; a pint of ice cream, melted in a wash of our tears; a bottle of wine, the corkscrew lying on the floor as evidence of our emotional distress.

We justify these behaviors by saying we’re single by choice, that we’re “not ready for relationships,” or that we just haven’t found our “soul mates.” We ask ourselves: We spend all our lives chasing love, but is all we really want to just be left alone? And we answer with a resounding, chocolate-breathed, “yes.”

But for those who are the former, the “in love” — or, at the least, the “not single” — I’ve prepared a meal for you that’s sure to keep your sweetie around for at least longer than the night. Nothing is sexier than a big plate of steak. There’s something so primal, so sensual about a juicy steak seared to perfection. Served with a glass of red wine, you might choose this meal over your partner.

I subscribe to the doctrine that steak should be treated simply, only seasoned with salt and pepper and plated with few toppings. When selecting a steak, be sure to select something substantial. I chose a sirloin with lots of marbling, meaning there’s a decent proportion of meat to fat. Fat is flavor, people, so please don’t get something you’ll regret later.

Instead of the basic meat and potatoes, I’ve selected to serve this steak over a sweet and slightly bitter rutabaga purée. And to continue in all things nontraditional, I’ve boiled the rutabaga in apple juice, a riff on the popular pairing of pork and applesauce. The sweetness of the apple and the bitterness of the rutabaga perfectly cut the fattiness of the meat.

This recipe may have several steps, but many can be done in advance. The purée can be prepared up to two days ahead and reheated, and the reduction comes together while the steak cooks. So for all you “lovebirds” out there, I hope you have a “happy” Valentine’s Day, and that this rosemary seared steak comes out as beautiful as your relationships and that you live happily ever after.

Sincerely, 
Single

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or abennett@journaltribune.com.

Rosemary seared steaks with rutabaga puréeSeared rosemary steaks make for a delicious and hearty Valentine's Day meal. ALAN BENNETT/Journal TribuneSeared rosemary steaks make for a delicious and hearty Valentine's Day meal. ALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune
Start to finish: 1 hour (40 minutes active)
Serves: 2

For the purée:
1 ¼ pounds rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
32 ounces unsweetened apple juice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
1 tablespoon rosemary, roughly chopped
Pinch red pepper flakes
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the steak:

1 8-ounce sirloin steak, 1 ½-inches thick, cut in half
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons salted butter
4 sprigs rosemary
Pinch red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons canola oil

For the wine sauce:
4 ounces dry red wine
4 ounces apple cider
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Prepare the purée. In a large, deep pot over high heat, bring the apple juice to a boil with a pinch of salt. Add the rutabaga. If the liquid does not cover the rutabaga, add just enough water to submerge. Bring back to a boil and then reduce heat to medium. Summer 20 minutes or until the rutabaga is fork-tender.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the rutabaga to a food processor fitted with a steel blade, reserving the cooking liquid. Add enough cooking liquid to blend until smooth. Add the butter, red pepper flake, rosemary and salt and pepper to taste, and blend. Transfer to a bowl and set aside — the purée can be reheated either in a microwave or over a double boiler for serving.

Prepare the wine sauce. In a small pot over medium-high heat, boil red wine, apple cider and soy sauce until thick and syrupy and only about two tablespoons remain, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare the steaks. Heat oven to 350 degrees. On a large plate, combine equal amounts salt and black pepper. Press the steaks into the mix, rubbing the salt and pepper into the meat on all sides.

In a large, oven-safe skillet set over medium-high heat, heat canola until it just begins to smoke. Place steaks in pan, searing about 2 minutes per side, until browned and a crust forms. Transfer to oven and cook until medium-rare, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and place over medium heat. Add the butter, rosemary sprigs and red pepper and baste the steaks with the herb butter. The steaks are done when the butter is golden brown and the rosemary is fragrant.

Plate the meal by spooning a generous portion of rutabaga purée in the center of a plate, placing the steak on top and spoon with herb butter. Spoon the wine reduction around the base of the purée, and top the steak with a fried rosemary sprig. Enjoy with the wine you have leftover from the sauce.

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