Meat and Potatoes

I have been cooking more than I’ve been documenting it. But tonight I remembered to dig out my camera and tripod since I was trying a new recipe, another Everyday Food offering, steak with crispy potatoes and watercress.

The recipe calls for skirt steak, but the skirt steak I saw at whole foods looked less appealing than the top loin. I decided to impose portion control by buying a single 8-ounce cut and slicing it in half to serve us both; 8 ounces may be a restaurant portion but if you’re trying to follow nutritional guidelines, the 4-ounce half is more appropriate. We were perfectly satisfied; the double amount would have been overwhelming. Delicious, yes, but too much.

This is a pretty quick recipe. For the potatoes, you slice red potatoes 1/4 of an inch thick, and toss them with a mixture of smashed garlic, oil and thyme, then roast them in a 450-degree oven for about 25 minutes, until the bottom is well browned. (OK, the recipe says 475, but I get nervous at the upper reaches of our oven dial, and this worked out just fine.)

In the meantime, you heat a heavy skillet over high heat, then melt a couple of tablespoons of butter. Season your steaks liberally with salt and pepper,  and other spices if you like, and cook them for about 2 minutes per side or until you’re satisfied with their doneness. I like rare meat; these turned out medium rare, but they were thin enough that I couldn’t have gotten them any rarer and still gotten a satisfactory sear. I removed the steaks to a dish to rest and added some red wine to the pan for a simple reduction sauce. I poured it off a little earlier than I should have, because I suddenly had qualms about cooking red wine in a cast-iron skillet; it didn’t seem to do any harm to the finish, though. (My skilled is rather well seasoned by now.) Also I got a bit of the lees from the wine into the sauce; it didn’t hurt the taste but the resulting liquid was a bit less pretty than it might have been.

And for the watercress, toss the leaves with a simple vinaigrette: Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. I took longer than I should have to prep the watercress; I haven’t worked with watercress before and it took me a while to figure out an efficient way to pull the thickest stems.

Everything tasted great.  I definitely want to eat more watercress; it has a good flavor but isn’t quite as assertive as arugula. (I didn’t think to taste it before dressing it so I’m not sure how much of the taste to ascribe to the vinaigrette.) And I am a real sucker for potatoes; it’s hard to find a potato dish I wouldn’t joyfully try.

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