Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bell's Amber Braised Steaks with Leeks and Gorgonzola

I'm going to let you in on a little secret.  You don't need to buy the most expensive steaks you can find to get the "cut it with a butter knife" tenderness of filet mignon.  Don't get me wrong -- I love filet mignon as much as the next person, but I don't always want to pay for it.  With this little trick, you can practically turn a choice cut of meat into a prime one.  And yes, you can still enjoy a great steak even in the middle of winter.  The delectable flavor and simplicity of the amber beer sauce, tender leeks, and creamy Gorgonzola topping are all just icing on the  cake  steak.

**No, you don't HAVE to follow the salting process to make this recipe, but I would highly recommend trying it at least once. 

So, what's the big "Steak Secret"?  Coat your steaks with salt 1 hour before cooking (tip: works best with steaks that are at least 1" thick).  Yes, it really is that simple. And yes, I did say "coat". I’m talking about literally covering the entire surface of your meat so it resembles a salt lick. I know this sounds like salt-curing, which dries out meat (like jerky), but with salt curing, you use a lot more salt and leave it salting for a really long time. This short amount of time is just enough to break down the proteins and flavor the steak throughout.

Here are two regular, inexpensive supermarket steaks (Delmonico Rib Eyes, to be exact).

Season liberally with kosher salt on both sides.  Use kosher or sea salt, NOT table salt.  This will not work well with tiny tiny grains of table salt.  Again, don’t worry about all that salt.  Just enough of it gets absorbed into the meat and the rest gets washed down the drain when you rinse it off. If your steak tastes too salty when it's done, you probably didn't rinse all of the salt off.

And then just let it sit on your counter.

After 15 minutes, it will look like this — you can see how the meat’s water is starting to come up to the surface — and that some of the salt is still on the surface of the steak. After another 45 minutes, you’ll see more even more water.

The next step is to discard the water, rinse the steaks really well to get rid of all the salt.  Then pat very dry with clean paper towels so that absolutely no moisture is left on the steaks.

Then it’s time to cook the steaks and make that delicious sauce.  For this recipe you will need:

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 lean steaks (about 5 ounces each)
2 leeks, rinsed well and chopped (white and light green parts only)
1 cup amber beer
1/2 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season both sides of the steaks with freshly ground black pepper (if you decide to skip the salting process, season with salt at this point. Otherwise, forgo adding any additional salt). Add the steaks to the hot pan and cook 1 to 2 minutes per side, until just browned. Remove the steaks from the pan and set aside.

Add the leeks to the same pan over medium-high heat. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, until the leeks are tender and golden brown. Add the beer and broth and bring to a simmer. Return the steaks to the pan and simmer for 2-5 minutes depending on the thickness of your steaks and your desired doneness.

Transfer the steaks and sauce to a serving platter and top with the gorgonzola cheese.


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