Monday, June 1, 2009

Meat and Potatoes

by Xani

A classic/recurring joke at the BCD dinner table is to look down at the plates of delicious, elaborate food we've prepared (and the piles of dirty dishes in the kitchen) and say "oh, just a little something we whipped up." And then we all have a hearty chuckle. Because dinner is always an event, a challenge, a walk down memory lane-- it's never simple, even when, at its core, it is. Which brings me to the meat and potatoes meal we "whipped up" Saturday night at Blackacre.

Steak, potatoes, asparagus-- a basic, classic meal served in restaurants and homes around the country, right? But each time its served the chef or cook gets to make decisions that start to change the meal and make it something special. Where do the ingredients come from? How fresh are they? How are they prepared? Steak in a cast-iron pan or on the grill or in the broiler? Mashed, baked, or fried potatoes? Boiled or steamed asparagus? With sauce or without? And so on... one of the joys of cooking is making these small changes to a basic dish or meal and then seeing how drastically those changes have affected the outcome.

At Kitchen Stadium, even when we go basic, we go BIG and BOLD. Let's start with the steaks:

Not your ordinary new york strip or filet. These beasts were carved off a 15 pound hunk of boneless prime rib roast by Yours Truly just a few hours before we cooked them. Prior to that, they had been wet-aging a Cryo-vac package in the fridge at Blackacre for about 3.5 weeks (during which time the meat began to "break down" aka rot and therefore produce a more tender and succulent steak). We used a kitchen scale, a tape measure and a super-sharp knife to break the 15 pounds into a 5.5 lb boneless rib roast, and 4 (approx.) 2.5 lb steaks. We froze all but two of these, which we brought to room temperature, seasoned heavily with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, seared for 5 minutes per side in a screaming hot cast iron pan, then into the oven until they reached an internal temperature of 122 degrees.

Now the potatoes: simple, yes, but decadent. From #35 on this list, duck-fat roasted potatoes are certainly worth shortening your life for. These little babies came from our favorite local farm stand, Emily's. I peeled a strip from the center of each potato before tossing them into hot duck fat, and sauteed until deep golden brown, crispy, and cooked through.

Local asparagus, also from Emily's, were blanched in salted water while EP tried her hand at hollandaise. For her first attempt at this classic (and notoriously temperamental) sauce, she took a little help from technology and made it in the food processor, using a technique from Julia Child. The egg yolks, lemon juice, salt and pepper went into the food processor while butter was melted. The hot butter was poured slowly into the whirring egg mixture until the sauce became a thick cream. Voila, hollandaise!

Successful timing meant that all our dishes were ready to serve at exactly the same time. The meat had rested for 20 minutes or so and was ready to carve just as the potatoes were pulled off the heat and seasoned, asparagus were drained and sauce finished.

Check out the final plate:

Simple and beautiful and beyond delicious. Add some fabulous Amarone to drink, gorgeous sunset outside and great conversation about how "meat and potatoes" has changed in America over the last 50 years and what a nice little evening we whipped up.


  1. I am definitely going to try those potatoes! beautiful. These posts always make me jealous about how close you all live to each other.

  2. "Meat and Potatoes"... that was my nickname in college.

  3. Nicely done - the meal - the writing - the instructions - the pictures - only wish I had been there.

  4. I always love duck fat fried potatoes. I loooovvve the fries at Salt here in Bmore! You guys went way overboard...not to any surprise. =-) Being from the midwest, I like my steak slightly marinated before grilling, but now I am definitely more heavy handed with the salt.

    Cya soon!


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