Evan and I enjoy a nice steak. Years ago we went to a cooking class for Evan’s birthday called “The Great American Steakhouse.” Evan proposed to me in a steakhouse. After he took the Bar Exam we went to Peter Luger’s and, stuffed, walked home across the Wiliamsburg Bridge. Every Christmas Eve we look forward to my father’s filet mignon roast. Steak equals celebration. So when Evan told me he wanted Chicken Parmesan for his birthday dinner, I smiled and started plotting a steakhouse meal for the night before.
As with everything I make in Israel, things didn’t go as planned.
Here was the menu I imagined: steak with sautéed onions and mushrooms, crème fraîche mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, and a nice bottle of Pinot Noir.
And the menu we ended up with: pork basted in butter, sautéed onions and mushrooms, smashed potatoes, creamed sorrel, and a 2009 Golan Heights Viognier.
See what I mean? Close, good, but off. Honestly it ended up being better and more interesting than my original plan, but that was completely by accident. The pork was Evan’s choice. We went grocery shopping together so any surprise element was out the window. When I nonchalantly developed an interest in the beef section of the butcher, Evan quickly caught on. Rather than an expensive, unidentifiable piece of steak, an equally unidentifiable but much less expensive cut of pork caught Evan’s eye. I warned him that I had no idea what it was or how to cook it, but he was undeterred.
Google translate told me that what I had was sirloin; I wasn’t convinced. The 3-inch thick pieces of pork had a nice layer of fat that was either enticing or menacing, depending n your taste. I sent photos of the raw meat to my friend Jon, who is a cook at Gramercy Tavern in New York. He responded simply and without greeting “season heavily. Sear fat side first in grape seed oil. Flip and baste with butter for 13 minutes.” Ok, I thought, I’ll give it a shot… I used corn oil, which was all I had on hand, and the meat was so thick it took more like 20 minutes, but I couldn’t have asked for better instructions. The pork came out ridiculously tender and flavorful, better than any steak. The fat melted in my mouth.
While the pork switch-up was a matter of choice, the sorrel was another story. I had a feeling it wasn’t spinach, but the tightly sealed package was the closest looking leafy green in the store. As soon as I took a bite at home the citrusy bite gave it away. A quick Google translate check of the label confirmed that it was sorrel. I wasn’t disappointed; it was in fact a happy accident. Even in New York you can’t find sorrel in any old supermarket. I prepared it exactly as I would creamed spinach, and the bright acidity played nicely with the cream and butter.
Given the choice, the meal I ended up with is the one I would make again.
My Creamed Sorrel recipe was named an Editor’s Pick in the Food52 Challenge “Your Best Spring Vegetable Recipe.”
Steakhouse Dinner Redux
Yield: 2 to 4 servings
1 pound potatoes, quartered (skin on)
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper
½ cup chopped chives
Pork Basted in Butter:
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound pork (maybe the sirloin, see photo for details), cut into thick steaks
Grape seed or vegetable oil
Sautéed Onions and Mushrooms:
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
For the Smashed Potatoes:
Add the quartered potatoes to a large pot of boiling water and cook until softened. Drain. Add milk to the pot until heated. Return the potatoes to the pot and mash using a masher or wooden spoon. Add butter and season with salt and pepper. Add more milk or butter as needed until desired consistency and taste is achieved. Fold in chives. (Can be made a few hours ahead; just before serving add more milk and heat over low heat.)
For the Pork Basted in Butter:
Season pork heavily with salt and pepper. Sear fat side first in grape seed oil. Flip and baste with butter for 13 to 20 minutes. Remove from the pan and allow to rest 5 minutes before serving.
For the Creamed Sorrel:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Working in batches, quickly add the sorrel and remove after 30 seconds or so. Transfer to a colander and shock with cold water. Squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible. Roughly chop and set aside.
Melt the butter in a pan and add the shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft. Add the sorrel and cook for 1 minute. Add ½ cup of the cream and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine, adding more cream as necessary. Cook until the cream has reduced by half and remove from the heat.
For the Sautéed Onions and Mushrooms:
Using the pan the pork was cooked in, heat butter. Add onions and mushrooms and cook until slightly softened. Add a dash of sherry vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
To Assemble and Serve:
Put it all on a plate and enjoy.