19 December 2006

Protein and Greens

I've been eating a hunk of protein and leafy greens for lunch at work almost every day and have yet to tire of it. So I brought that knowledge home this weekend

Sunday dinner comprised a couple of old favorites: hanger steak and broccoli rabe. I've workshopped both of these dishes a few times and figured out some good tricks. My butcher sells marinated hanger steaks, but the first time we got them, we were rewarded with meat that tasted only of marinade. Hanger is a bargain-ish cut, but you still want to be able to taste your meat.

I marinated the steak for under an hour in a combination of toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, mirin, a dash of sriracha, and a clove of crushed garlic. Somehow, when you put this combination with a steak, it just tastes good, not markedly Asian, so there was no problem doing the greens Italian style. I cooked the steak on medium heat on a cast iron griddle. The marinade crusts up pretty good. I don't know whether this is a problem or a benefit, but it definitely means you can only do one batch of steaks before scrubbing out the pan. So this is sort of a two-person recipe.

The big discovery on the greens was something I cottoned onto cooking dinner at Dashton's house. Broccoli rabe is a labor-intensive green. I'm glad to start seeing it all over, as it's tasty and good for you, but it's a lot of work because of the tough threads on the outside of the stalk. Some restaurants cut corners by chopping the stalk crosswise so the threads are not as noticeable, but you still can feel them in your mouth, and it's not pleasant. The other approach is to peel the greens from the bottom of the stalk up. This is labor-intensive, though, because you end up tearing some of the leaves off, and leaving some of the thready side stalks on. The compromise is to chop the leaves and head off the stalk, leaving the main stalk and maybe a few side stalks. These you can strip off, then peeling the main stalk is a breeze. Also, separating the leaves and stalks makes the main dish a bit of a different beast. It's somewhat like braised swiss chard, where there's a leafy component and a tender, sweet stalk component. The peeled stalks are light green and stand out, encouraging you to eat them singly, and you're rewarded for this amply.

I did mine simply, boiled for about 5 minutes in abundant salted water. While they boiled, I fried up some thinly sliced garlic in good olive oil, and added a healthy dash of pepper flakes. Experience has taught me to avoid lemon juice or pepper, which are good with other greens. Broccoli rabe has an inherent zing that both of these kickers, so good with beet greens or escarole, distract from. So, just five ingredients: greens, oil, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes (and water). M pronounced them the best greens yet.

One 18 oz. hanger and a bunch of greens. Not bad for a Sunday night. I splurged on a Hess Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for such a simple but flavorful meal, and wasn't disappointed.

1 comment:

Housewife said...

First I'll thank you and them I'm running to the kitchen to mix up the marinade for my steak.

Mouthwatering just reading it!