Do you plan your menu for the week? Do you have your grocery list down to the last ingredient? We rarely do. We couldn’t even stick to it because our taste and craving for food change so much. Our grocery shopping and cooking philosophy is: buy what looks good and fresh, is in season (and, therefore, has a good price), and we’ll think of something to make with them. This works well especially for its surprise factor, and creative and culinary freedom. We often decide what to cook once we’re right in front of the stove. Sometimes we see a sign on the street, a TV commercial, or a picture on a magazine, that would inspire the next meal. Our dishes really almost always starts from there.
That’s how it was for this meaty plate. The March 2008 Gourmet issue arrived the week we got some nice thin steaks. I saw the recipe for blade stakes with mushroom-madeira sauce and was lured by its simplicity: short cooking time and few ingredients. Sounds perfect for a weeknight!
I made this one night after we came home from our 90-minute Bikram yoga class. If you’ve ever been in one, I think you’ll understand what I mean when I say that there would be times when you’d want to eat — no, scarf down — a big plate of food immediately afterwards.
This was our delicious ‘reward’ after a long arduous workout:
Yummy, yummy, yummy. We almost licked the plate clean. What’s more, it looked and tasted like it took a lot more time and effort than it really did. You can make it when you have guests over and not break a sweat. Love it!
The thin steak slices cut down the cooking time even more (such a bonus if you’re starving). We had leftover madeira, thanks to the herb crusted fillet of beef that we cooked for Christmas. I used fresh crimini mushrooms and white onion (instead of shallot). If you can believe it, these are the only main ingredients that you really will ever need. The madeira we have is decently priced (less than $10) and it works beautifully. You don’t have to get the priciest thing on the shelf, unless you have too much extra dough or feel like feeding the queen.
** Madeira substitutes: According to The Cook’s Thesaurus [bookmark that site, it's good for you], you can use port (especially a dry port), Marsala, dry vermouth or sherry (especially a dry sherry), or stock (Either beef or chicken stock works well in meat-based sauces).
If you want some good-tasting steaks with sauce in less than 30 minutes, try making this. [Sorry, there's no step-by-stop photo because we were in a mad rush to cook and eat.] Here’s the recipe:
Thin Steaks in Mushroom-Madeira Sauce
[adapted from the Gourmet March 2008 recipe, page 84.]
- 1 1/2 pound beef eye of round steak , patted dry & cut into 1/4-inch to 1/3-inch thick slices
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup chopped white onion
- 7 crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup Madeira wine** (we used rainwater Madeira, medium dry)
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1. Sprinkle meat slices salt and pepper. Toss together.
2. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Place meat in the skillet and cook 1 to 2 minutes on each side, depending on thickness. Transfer to a plate and keep warm, covered.
3. Add the remaining oil into the skillet, and onions. Sauté for 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and sauté until golden, 3 to 4 minutes.
5. Add the wine, 1/4-teaspoon salt, and 1/8-teaspoon pepper and briskly simmer for 2 minutes. Mix in water and any meat juices from plate. Boil for 2 minutes.
6. Prepare cornstarch mixture, add to the skillet with mushrooms and simmer until thickened, about 1 minute. Pour sauce over the steaks before serving.