Whoa. David Granger, the editor of Esquire magazine, better be careful. Alice Waters and her tribe of slow foodies are going to come after him and beat him with a bunch of organic Swiss chard if he's going to say things like this:
"I have a theory...that American restaurants have become less tasty in direct proportion to their growing enthusiasm for using meat and vegetables from local farms and wholly organic providers. Its as though chefs have come to fetishize these fresh provisions to such a degree that they are loath to work their culinary magic; they don't do anything to them, and the result is food that doesn't taste like much–and when it comes to food, tasty is where it's at."
Did you just hear the crash of 1,000 copper pots coming from the direction of Napa? (Aside from Mr. Granger's incorrect usage of the word fetishize), I think this is a really interesting salvo and I'm glad it's out there. Also, don't you think Granger may be on to something? Speaking of Esquire, they have started an amazing new feature, called Recipes for Men. Women's magazine used to run such good, creative, inspiring recipes, and in France they still do. But here, well. Jeffery Steingarten? Really? I guess the idea is that women who care about whatever is in the pages of a fashion magazine are doing their very best not to eat, so why torture them? In any case, the premise behind Esquire's new feature, is that the recipes they feature are simple enough for a man who doesn't really know his way around the kitchen to make and they are delicious. Esquire is getting big name chefs to give them recipes (Batali, Myers, Palmer etc) and they look so good. Also, I love that they are designed to serve two, so they are all intimate-cook-for-someone-you-love-adore food.
My favorite so far is Tom Colicchio's Steak with Potatoes:
My philosophy is to keep preparations simple, allowing the ingredients to shine. This dish started as a one-pot meal at Craftsteak, but I often find myself making it at home. It just requires a beautiful piece of hanger steak -- named because it hangs down between the tenderloin and rib without being connected to a bone. There's only one, which is why many butchers save this cut for their own family. The addition of red onions, bacon, and vinegar hits the classic combination of sweet, salty, and acidic. I cut the steak into 3/4-inch pieces, slicing against the grain. Anything less and the meat will lose its toothsome appeal. --Tom Colicchio
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
- 1 lb hanger steak
- Coarse salt and ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 6 sprigs thyme<
- 4 oz thickly sliced smoked bacon (four slices), diced
- 10 oz fingerling potatoes (Note: If the fingerling potatoes are pinkie-sized, halve them lengthwise. Larger fingerlings should be cut widthwise into 1/2-inch round slices.)
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced (about 1/8 inch)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1. Place 10-inch cast-iron skillet over high heat. Season hanger steak with salt and pepper. Add canola oil to very hot skillet, and when it is almost smoking (the surface will start to shimmer), sear meat for 4 minutes on each side.
2. Reduce heat to medium-low (letting pan cool down a bit) and add butter and 3 sprigs of thyme. (The pan must cool down before you add the butter or it will sizzle and burn on contact.) Using a spoon, baste steak with butter for 2 to 3 minutes, flipping it once halfway through to cook it evenly. (The temperature for a medium-rare steak is about 135 degrees.)
3. Remove meat from skillet and set aside. Discard all fat and thyme from skillet. (Wipe clean with paper towel.) Over medium heat, cook bacon to render fat and slightly crisp meat, about 5 minutes. Nestle in potatoes (cut-side down if using horizontal version) and cook until crisp and golden, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn potatoes and continue cooking until crisp tender, another 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Add onion and remaining thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion caramelizes and potatoes are cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Lower heat and add garlic, and when you can smell its aroma, add balsamic vinegar and reduce, about 3 minutes.
6. To serve: Carve hanger steak into 3/4-inch slices and return to skillet, arranging atop vegetables.
Tom Colicchio is the owner of Craft restaurants and head judge on Bravo's Top Chef.
Tips from Readers:
Here's an interesting, extremely useful tip that came in today from Ruth:
Here's another tip: Wash mixing bowls that have had flour based batter in them in cold water because hot water cooks the proteins in the flour (I think) making the goo harder to eliminate.
Who knew? Have any good tips for us? Send'em in.