Sunday, January 24, 2010

Salade d'Onglet (sort of)

Mmmm steak salad! I've been looking forward to making this dish since I got the book. Steak salad is a favorite of Husband J and mine, because it strikes the perfect balance between virtuous salad and indulgent steak, and doesn't make you feel terrible for eating it (unlike the super creamy pulled pork sandwich we had for last night's dinner). Speaking of which, I have been indulging in some pretty horrible eating habits for the past few months, due to a combination of busyness and increased appetite. Busyness means lots of takeout instead of home cooked meals; increased appetite means that I can't skip meals without thinking about it like I used to. This is all combining to an increase in the pounds around my middle, and I'm not too happy about it. So a steak salad is just the thing I need to do a restart of my diet, involving more veggies, and less takeout.

The first step in salade d'onglet is to get oneself some onglet. Which I failed at, completely. First I slept through the farmer's market this morning, then sent Husband J to Whole Foods to get the onglet. Onglet, or hangar steak, is an incredibly delicious cut of meat which comes from the diaphragm of the cow, and is tough until marinated and seared at high heat, after which it becomes very tender and flavorful. Onglet is often served in French cuisine, particularly in steak salad (duh) and in steak frites which (for the unenlightened) consists of steak, and french fries, all in a shallot/red wine sauce. If anyone reading this has never eaten onglet, I encourage you to run to your nearest bistro and get one of those dishes so that you can taste this wonderful cut of meat.

Unfortunately there was no onglet to be had at the Whole Foods this day, so Husband J got the next best thing--a skirt steak. Skirt steak is a cut from the same area of the cow, and is actually a part of the full cut from which onglet is obtained. The onglet is the more tender, "inner" cut that is near to the cow's kidneys, while the skirt steak is the outer, tougher cut, and is often used for international peasant dishes that I love, including fajitas in Mexico, and Cornish pasties in England and Wales.

Well, skirt steak it is, and no complaining about it. First, we must marinate the steak for a few hours (the recipe says overnight is best, but that two to three hours will do). I made the marinade first, grating ginger, chopping garlic, and mixing the two in soy sauce.

Next, I took out the steak and chopped it up into small, bite-sized pieces.

The pieces went into the marinade to soak for two hours while I cleaned the kitchen and made cake for dessert.

After the meat had been marinating, I started chopping and measuring for the salad sauce, which requires garlic, ginger, soy sauce, parsley, and white wine.

Then I got the meat bits out of the fridge, dried them off, and sauteed them in butter for about six minutes.

In the meantime, Husband J made the vinaigrette for the salad, and set the lettuce out on a platter.

I made the sauce once the meat had cooked--by pouring wine into the pan and scraping the fond, then added the veal stock and an ice cube of demi glace. When that had reduced by half, I added ginger and garlic, and cooked the meat in the sauce for about a minute.

Finally, we served the salad with its vinaigrette, and on top we served the steak with its sauce.

Verdict: Just outstanding. The steak absorbed the soy, garlic and ginger flavors and was tender and succulent, even as skirt steak instead of the more tender hangar steak cut. The salad with red wine vinaigrette was delicious. The combination of the two was absolutely brilliant--both halves combined to a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Husband J thought that "it was very tasty--the garlic and ginger really helped the taste of the steak come out, and it was better than just eating a hunk of bloody meat at a steak house. Eating the steak with lettuce makes me feel much better than just eating a big hunk of meat."

And we had cake!

Lessons Learned: Skirt steak can be just as tender as onglet--it's all in the marinade. Steak salad is better than a big bloody hunk of meat.

Next Week: I'm taking another break. Work is sending me to New Orleans at the end of the week, so I'm taking Husband J for what will be our first trip to the city. We have reservations to K-Paul's and Commander's Palace, and are working on getting into Cochon, too. Not to mention the muffulettas and beignets I plan to feast upon between restaurant visits! So much for the diet! We'll report back on the food we get and eat next week in lieu of cooking.

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