Sunday, May 8, 2011

Montreal Steak with Caramelized Shallots and Horseradish Mushroom Cream Sauce (Bring on the sun in Ithaca!)

This past weekend in Ithaca was a great one for Trish and I. First of all, Friday was Cornell's famous slope day, which meant that work was demoted to second priority and the day was all about fun! Secondly, my good friend, college roommate, and fellow lover of food Jon was in town for his first visit to Ithaca. Lastly (and perhaps least likely!), the weather cooperated, and we enjoyed beautiful sun all three days (Trish and I are currently basking in it as we update the blog!). On Saturday night, after already having taken Jon to some of Ithaca's restaurant offerings, we decided to do a home cooked meal. Since the weather was pleasant, we decided to break out the grill (charcoal), and buy some beautiful steaks and fresh vegetables to throw on the flame.

The first ingredient in this meal is obviously the steak. We went to Wegman's and found some beautiful dry-aged prime ribeyes. It's quite a luxury to have a grocery store that sells prime meat in town!

I then dry-rubbed the steak with my homemade "Montreal" rub. As far as I know, there's no set ingredient list for a Montreal rub, and by using freshly toasted spices, you can do much better than the stuff that comes in a shaker at the store. For mine, I first toasted some whole black peppercorns, dried hot red chilies (I used Indian ones, you can use any), whole cumin seeds, and whole coriander seeds. I do this on a dry pan over medium high heat until the spices become aromatic, but before they blacken. Next, I crush the whole spices - if you have a mortar and pestle, this is the ideal tool, but I don't, so I just lay the spices out on a cutting sheet and roll them with a drinking glass to crush. I leave them pretty coarse. After crushing the spices, I add them to kosher salt, paprika, fresh thyme, and granulated onion and garlic to complete the rub. I then apply this liberally to the steaks, patting them down. These steaks should then be tightly wrapped (leave as little air in there as possible), and kept in the fridge for 2-8 hours.  The ratio of spices that you use for the rub is really up to your taste, so experiment and find your favorite combination!

While, the steaks are absorbing the rub, you can start on the shallots and sauce. Caramelizing the shallots is really easy but requires some patience. For 3 steaks, I used about 15 small shallots. I really like the inherent sweetness of shallots, but since you're caramelizing them anyway, you could easily substitute one or two medium sized red onions. For the 15 shallots, I just melted 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium low heat and added the shallots with a bit of salt. It will take a while, but eventually (~15-20 minutes), the shallots will really soften and brown. They may stick to the pan a little bit as a result of the sugars cooking out, and you can use a touch of good red wine to deglaze the pan if this happens (use whatever you want to drink with the steaks anyway! - on this particular day we used a French Grenache/Syrah blend, which worked great). Basically your shallots should go from looking like this:

To this:

At which point you can serve them on your steak.

For the mushroom cream sauce, start by mincing two cloves of garlic and then sauteing them in olive oil until fragrant. Next add 4 ounces of your favorite mushrooms. I used a blend of oyster, shitake, and black trumpet mushrooms. Once the mushrooms are softened up (but not wet), add some fresh thyme and a tablespoon of fresh prepared horseradish:

Add salt and pepper to taste at this point. With mushrooms, it's always best to wait until they are fully cooked before adding salt, because salt is hygroscopic and will cause the mushrooms to become soggy if you add it too soon. After seasoning, add cream, let the whole thing come to a boil, and then leave on simmer until your steak is ready!

Before getting back to the steak, let me add a disclaimer for those heavy-duty meat-eaters who might think that the shallots and cream sauce are unbecoming of a "real steak:" these steaks are good enough to eat with or without any fixings. But why miss any opportunity to add layers of flavor? Believe me, the ribeye has enough texture, taste, and character to stand up to and maintain its meatiness with my sauce and shallots!

Anyway, as far as the steak goes, from this point, things are simple. Only two important details really. One - take the steaks out of the fridge and let them warm to room temperature for about 20 minutes before grilling to prevent a cold center on the grill. Two - cook the steak to your desired doneness. Jon, Trish, and I were looking for medium rare, so I went 4 minute on the first side and 3 minutes on the second side (I always do 1 minute less after the flip). While the steaks are on the grill, I don't touch them except to move them away from flare-ups. And of course, grill with the lid OPEN (no steaming that delicious steak!).

Now enjoy with however much or little sauce and shallots you want! Looking forward to a great summer of grilling!

1 comment:

  1. And along with the delicious steak, we had great company with our neighnor, Angelique, who shared some funny stories and anecdotes!