Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Perks of Being a Blogger: Free Steak from Hearst Ranch

Sometimes it literally pays to be a blogger.

Case in point: Not long after returning from the UK (photos to follow shortly), I found out that I'd been picked to receive a free sample from Hearst Ranch. HR specializes in grass-fed, open-range meats, all of which is available for order.

(This photo isn't mine. It's from the site. But I could totally take a picture like it if I bothered to use something besides my phone.)

And thank GOD it is! I was a tad apprehensive initially, as the last steak I purchased from a local grocer had a mouth feel on par with cardboard. But, I needn't have worried: This stuff is fabulous - it practically melts in your mouth assuming you haven't burned it, and even then I suspect it would still taste pretty damn spectacular. I received two very well-sized flank steaks in the mail during the week. (I also received the dry ice it was packed with, which was fun to play with for 30 minutes or so.) Steak #1 is in the freezer for the next few weeks, but steak #2 was immediately thawed for consumption.

After returning from a weekend wedding trip to Rochester, NY (Congrats, Tiffany & Steve!!), I scrounged around for an easy, non-grill required recipe to prepare the meat. I ended up tweaking an old Cook's Illustrated recipe, adding on a balsamic reduction for additional flavor. Throw in some rice and diced veggies, and you've got yourself a meal!

I'll post photos and food stories from London and Newcastle soon (aka, when I find the cable to for my camera). But let me offer some items to distract you in the meantime:

Packing for Mars by Sarah Roach

Good if you like easy-to-digest science texts, space odysseys, or just really want to know just how astronauts use the bathroom in zero gravity.

The Archandriod by Janelle MonĂ¡e

For those who enjoy funk and R&B or who think that Andre 3000 is an under-appreciated genius.

Pan-Roasted Flank Steak with Garlic-Shallot-Rosemary Marinade
(Courtesy of Cook's Illustrated November, 2005)

6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 medium shallot, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary

1 flank steak (about 2 pounds), patted dry with paper towels
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Balsamic Reduction
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and fresh ground black pepper

  1. For Marinade: Puree all ingredients in blender until smooth, scraping down blender jars as needed.

  2. For Steak: Using dinner fork, poke steak about 20 times on each side. Place on rimmed baking sheet or in large baking dish; rub both sides of steak evenly with salt and then with paste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

  3. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 450 degrees. Using paper towels, wipe paste off flank steak; season both sides of steak evenly with pepper. Heat oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Set steak in skillet and cook until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, flip steak; sear until second side is well browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Place skillet in oven and roast until slightly less done than desired, about 4 to 5 minutes for medium-rare. Using potholders to handle skillet, transfer steak to cutting board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest 5 to 10 minutes. Using sharp chef's knife or carving knife, slice steak about 1/4 inch thick against grain on bias. Serve immediately.

  4. For Balsamic Reduction: Over medium-low heat, add the vinegar and brown sugar to the pan used to sear the steak, and whisk to combine, scraping up any bits still on the pan. Cook and reduce until thick, about the consistency of maple syrup. Whisk in 2 tablespoons butter and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve over the slices of steak.

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