Cooking the Book: Steak Tips with Mushroom-Onion Gravy
Though I haven’t really elaborated much here so far, part of the point of my little Cooking the Book project (not that it’s the only thing I do on this blog but it does kind of take over at times….) is to learn how to better cook for two and hopefully pick up some helpful techniques from the lovely folks at America’s Test Kitchen. And here I am, only a few recipes in, and I’m already quite taken with a new (to me, anyway) technique in this cookbook: lemme tell you, steam-sweating the mushrooms with the lid is awesome. Saute, pop on the lid, walk away and the liquid just pours out of ’em. So easy.
I also have to admit that this is the first of the cookbook recipes that I didn’t follow to the absolute letter. Generally speaking, I view recipes as jumping off points or suggestions, improvising and improving as I go along. For the sake of this public experiment, I have been trying to be a good girl and just follow the damn recipes.
But (isn’t there always a but?) I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to rehydrate the dried porcinis or if I was meant to track down some fresh ones or what. So I rehydrated some dried ones I had around the house in about 1/2 a cup of warm water, which I then strained. I topped up the measuring cup so it totaled one cup, stirred in a little beef Better Than Bullion and had mushroomy beefy liquid goodness. I just couldn’t let all that liquid umami go to waste. And if that’s wrong, I don’t wanna be right.
There is no resisting bits of anything swimming around in a lovely, flavorful gravy, at least not for me. This dish does not disappoint, and it does so without being too soupy or ending up with an over-floured pan gravy. I had a little mental hiccup for some reason, and when the onion gravy hit my taste buds it wasn’t what I was expecting. Good, but unexpected. I think because when I saute chunks of meat with onions and mushrooms, usually it ends up a stroganoff. I want to emphasize that I did not in any way find myself wishing it was a creamy stroganoff, my mouth was just temporarily confused on that first bite. I immediately moved on to thinking about how good it was without the aid of dairy.
I fully understand why the chunks of meat are so large. The cookbook explains they were looking for pieces big enough to help develop plenty of fond on the bottom of the pan when seared (for building flavor in the sauce) without cooking through too quickly. It calls the cubes “fork friendly,” but I have to say an inch-and-a-half chunk of meat is pretty big. Even in your wildest dreams, it’s not bite-sized. You will need a knife. As Mr. Kitchenette put it, “They’re like boulders. Meaty, delicious boulders. But you need a knife for sure.”
Finding the actual meat was also a little bit of a pain. This cut, while very tasty and reasonably priced, goes by a million different names, depending on where you are. Steak tips, sirloin tips, flap meat, flap steak, even the French bavette. A little in-store Googling was more helpful with what it is not (it is not hangar, flank or skirt steak; it is not a steak at all but more like a weird little lopsided triangle of roast, well-marbled and boneless). It remains a mystery to me where exactly on the cow this comes from other than the “bottom sirloin,” but I’m no butcher. I stand by the “ask your butcher” line when I don’t know what I’m talking about with meat, but step one of that is “go somewhere with an actual butcher you can talk to.”
About one lunch-sized portion, which is becoming par for the course, it seems. I cop to making way too many noodles and even after the meat and sauce leftovers are long gone, there are still cooked egg noodles languishing in the back of the ‘fridge (into said leftovers, I stirred one heaping tablespoon of sour cream, thus putting my stroganoff fixation to rest).
Also, I highly recommend my mushroom-liquid-beef-broth maneuver.
Steak Tips with Mushroom-Onion Gravy
From Cooking for 2 2011
Steak tips, also known as flap meat, are sold as whole steak, cubes and strips. To ensure evenly sized chunks, we prefer to purchase whole steak tips and cut them ourselves. Serve over Simple White Rice [yes, this cookbook includes a recipe for how to make rice] or egg noodles.
12 ounces sirloin steak tips, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
2 teaspoons soy sauce
salt and pepper
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
8 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin
1 small onion, halved and sliced thin
1/8 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (about 2 Tablespoons), rinsed and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or pinch dried
1 Tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup beef broth
1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Combine beef, soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown beef on all sides, 3 to 6 minutes, transfer to plate.
Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil, white mushrooms, onion, porcini mushrooms, and pinch of salt to skillet, cover and cook over medium heat until mushrooms are very wet, about 3 minutes. Uncover, scrape up any browned its, and continue to cook until vegetables are browned and thick fond forms on bottom of skillet, 3 to 6 minutes longer.
Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in broth, scraping up and browned bits, and bring to simmer
Return browned beef, with any accumulated juices, to skilled and simmer over medium-low heat until beef registers 130 on instant-read thermometer, 3 to 6 minutes. Off heat, season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with parsley an serve.