Image from The Poster Place
Who doesn't love them a cowboy? Gallopin' across the prairie to the next saloon, his piercing blue eyes peering out from under his dusty 10-gallon, worn-out leather boots stompin' one foot, then the other with a determined gait, lassoin' ladies left and right, wrastlin' a fiesty calf to the ground using his bare hands, scars tellin' stories of gunfights and fisticuffs... all this with only his trusty horse and his coffee can as company.
And so, today's recipe is brought to you by the Paul Newman cowboy seared in my mind... and that low-life, Valentine's Day: Coffee-rubbed Flank Steak with Onion-Date compote and Roasted Parsnip Chips.
Speaking of which, one of my favorite cowboy phrases is "hitch in your giddyup". Isn't it cute?
I don't know why, but whenever I think of a Valentine's Day dinner, I always imagine steak, wine and chocolate. Do you? Bren and I used to ignore this holiday at the beginning of our relationship; we were all "F the Man!" and boycotting Hallmark's sick attempt at making single people feel more lonely than ever.
Over the past few years, we've tried to do a little something, whether it's writing something to the other person or talking to each other without the TV on (!). Doods, it's the little things, ok?!
I hate going to a restaurant and paying extra for a meal just because it's Valentine-inspired. I would rather cook something at home. And this year, with all of our collective wallets looking a little thinner, I thought I would share this great way to make your honey, or yourself, a special meal, a tasty slab of red meat and still have money left over for a bottle of wine.
In fact, Bren and I had this last night, and calculated that the entire meal, with leftovers, cost us less than $20.
Take THAT, Ruth's Chris (and change your name for Goodness' sake, it's too hard to say).
N.B.: I would make the onion-date compote a day ahead if you can, because it does take almost an hour. Don't be put off by that though; it is absolutely, totally worth it, and it makes a ton, so you can use it the next day on a cheese sandwich or on a homemade pizza or on ice cream. Yeah, I said it.
Also, I kinda made up the onion-date compote as I went along last night, so forgive me for the photo below, which shows a lime I didn't use, and is missing a few things. I thought I might use the lime at the end. But I didn't. So there.
Seriously, if you make nothing else, make the compote. It will become a staple in your cooking repertoire and people will think you're oh-so-fancy for making a COMPOTE!
Giddy-Up Steak with Yee-haw Compote and Parsnip Chips!
(Coffee-rubbed Flank Steak, Onion-date Compote, Roasted Parsnip Chips)
You'll need this stuff (minus the lime, plus some dates and balsamic vinegar... oops):
1 flank steak, about 1.5 lbs or so
1 lb parsnips (about 3 big 'uns)
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground espresso/coffee
1.5 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
4 large onions, sliced very thin
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
5 dates, pitted and minced
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit/190 degrees celsius/gas mark 5.
2) Clean your flank steak, removing any extraneous fat and silver skin, slipping your knife under, like so... (sorry it's so dark!)
3) Mix rub ingredients together in a bowl, then massage the rub into the meat. I mean it, try to get it in there! You might have a bit of the rub left over, depending on the size of your flank steak. You can save that for the future, as long as your meat-tainted hands haven't touched the remaining rub. Set aside.
4) Start with the onion compote. Heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium flame until shimmering.
5) Add onions and stir occasionally until pale golden brown (10-15 minutes). Meanwhile, peel your parsnips and cut them in half crosswise, then again lengthwise (or quarter them if you have big puppies like I did), until you have spears of about the same size.
6) Once onions are a pale brown, turn heat to low. Spread onions out across the bottom of the skillet in a tin layer. Stir very rarely, allowing onions to caramelize and turn a deeper brown, about 25 minutes.
7) While onions are caramelizing, throw the parsnip chips onto a foil-lined baking sheet, toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper and throw them in the oven for 30 minutes, rotating your pan at the halfway mark to ensure even cooking.
8) Add water, vinegar and dates to onions. Stir and cook, covered, 15 minutes. Your parsnips should be done by now, so pull 'em out and keep 'em warm.
9) Meanwhile get your stove-top grill nice and hot. If you don't have one of these sweet things, you can use a big nonstick skillet. Fold a paper towel in four, pour a little veggie oil onto it, and wipe down your griddle (or pour a bit of oil into your skillet).
10) Once it's nice and hot (oil shimmering or lightly smoking), throw your rubbed-down meat on. It should take between 12 and 15 minutes to cook, depending on the size of your steak. Use a meat thermometer and pull off the steak when it reads about 135 for medium, 125 for medium rare; let it rest on a board, tented with foil for 5 minutes. Unless you really like dry steak, don't cook it above these temps!
9) Slice the steak thinly across the grain; if you don't, your precious steak will be incredibly chewy and deeply unsatisfying. I found a video that might help you.
10) Serve, alongside compote and chips... and love the one you're with! Even if you're by yourself!