Sunday, October 30, 2005

Stir-Fried Marinated Steak with Fried Rice, Corn and Peppers

This was a menu driven by various necessities - I couldn't start dinner until 7:30, we have no outdoor access and we have the worst laid-out kitchen ever. The stove is in the corner and the vent blows back into the room, not out onto the roof. [We live in a large one-room loft on the seventh-floor of an eight-floor building, and the kitchen is situated in one of the corners.] So no grilling and no searing or other type of cooking that could cause a lot of smoke. If we really crave steak, I'll either saute a filet because it doesn't have much fat or I'll marinate and stir fry. Sauteing (or broiling) even a filet creates enough smoke that we have to take evasive action vis-a-vis the smoke alarms so stir-frying usually wins out.

Stir-frying doesn't have to mean Chinese; I've been experimenting with marinades and sliced meat (this works well with pork and chicken too) to take advantage of flavors we like. Back when we lived in a house and had a grill, we loved a southwestern marinade with tomato paste, chili powder, cayenne, cumin, garlic, brown sugar, oil and soy sauce. So I started using it for a stir-fry marinade. I buy a nice boneless strip (dry-aged if I can find it), slice it into 1/3" strips and trim most of the fat. I whip up the marinade, and put the meat into the marinade. I'll let it sit, depending on time demands, for a half hour at room temperature or up to three in the fridge.

It's so easy I almost hesitate to write it down. Get a big non-stick skillet or saute pan, spoon some of the marinade into the pan and heat it on high for about 90 seconds, till the marinade solids are sizzling. Using tongs, lay the steak slices into the pan. When they're all in, cook for one minute and turn them over. Cook for another 45 seconds for medium rare. Here's the trick - DO NOT leave them in the pan for more than two minutes or they'll cook too much. If you are a fan of well-done steak, then two-minutes plus will work for you, but for the majority of you, medium rare takes one minute and forty-five seconds. Slices of meat 1/3" thick cook really fast. And no matter how much fat you use, it won't smoke when it's only on heat for three minutes.

At this point, I put the slices into a warmed serving dish and let them sit in a warm oven while I finish cooking everything else. Tonight it was frozen leftovers - rice from a dinner earlier this week, and corn and peppers from late summer. I poured most of the fat from the skillet that I used to cook the steak, heated it up again and added the (thawed) rice. Over almost-high heat, I stirred the rice for a few minutes, then added the (thawed) corn and peppers, and let it all cook for another four minutes. I put it in a serving dish, pulled the steak out of the oven, dropped everything on the table and had a great dinner ready in 15 minutes (not counting the marinating). My excellent husband had set the table, found a good wine and good music while I was cooking. It was a great meal, made greater by the fact it was so easy!

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