Adventures in Cooking

Tonight was nearly the sort of disaster that causes one to throw up the hands in defeat and go out to eat. This morning I pulled a sirloin steak out of the freezer for tonight’s dinner. We buy grass fed, grass finished beef from the One Stop Meat Shop in Sioux City. (I prefer my corn on the cob, not on the hoof.) Since they’re a small operation all their meat is cryo-vac’d and frozen. It is also great quality meat — very little shrinkage, etc. But because it’s cryo-vac’d it’s sometimes hard to see exactly what one is getting.

Tonight’s steak was a classic example of that rare occasion when you get something less than you expect. It was just over a pound of bone-in sirloin, but the bone looked tiny, so I was pretty sure there would be plenty for both of us. Turned out the bone (actually, two separate bones) was big and the meat loaded in gristle. By the time I finished trimming and cussing and trimming, we had six ounces of actual meat left, most of it in tiny little pieces.

I was planning on grilling the slab outside and then slicing it into several strips for serving. No way that was happening. Time to punt.

I hurried up and put a half pound of cauliflower in the steamer and started heating an itsy-bitsy saute pan to brown the meat. (After all, when all you have is 6 oz of sirloin, all you need is an itsy-bitsy saute pan.) After browning the meat I doused it liberally with curry powder, poured some almond milk into the pan and cooked it on low until just before dinner time to see if I could tenderize it a bit.

After the cauliflower was soft, I mashed it up with a fork — it ends up in a consistency very similar to mashed potatoes — and put some salt and curry powder in that, stuck it in the oven to keep it warm and turned my attention to the itsy-bitsy saute pan. Sure enough, since I was dealing with sirloin instead of loaves and fishes, there was still an itsy-bitsy amount of meat in there (even with no shrinkage, when you start with itsy-bitsy, you tend to end up with itsy-bitsy). It was also pretty tough, but edible … but the almond milk had remained thin as water. (I’ve never cooked this way with almond milk; I was hoping it would thicken up like coconut milk does.) So I added some corn starch and managed to get a fairly thick, yellow sauce, slightly sweet and loaded in curry flavor, to coat the meat.

Meanwhile, I also had prepped a couple of servings of broccoli and was steaming that in the steamer. Since the water was already hot (from the cauliflower), it didn’t take long.

Plating: I pulled the mashed curry cauliflower out of the oven and put it on the plate. It was a substitute for rice. Over that I poured the curry beef, put a serving of broccoli and a roll beside the curry beef, and voila, we had an odd sort of Indian meal. And as long as you don’t buy into the whole Buddhist-reincarnation-cows-are-holy thing, I can assure you that no grandmothers were cooked in the preparation of this meal.

Other than the fact that 3 ounces of beef is decidedly not quite satisfying, it turned out to be a pretty good meal, and the whole thing (salad not included) came in at 400 calories. It’s going on my list for meals to keep in the dinner rotation.

And besides, we finally got some snow earlier this week. (Actually, we broke a record for snowfall that has stood for nearly a hundred years. But when you start with bare ground, 6.2″ of snow ain’t nothin.) Who wants to stand in that big ol’ drift of snow in front of the grill cooking steaks?

(Well, actually, I wanted to stand in that snow drift grilling steaks, or burgers, or brats, or something! But when all meat is still in thef freezer, frozen solid, one has to set out on a different sort of adventure in cooking.)

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