Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Stout Dinner

Steak with Stout Pan Sauce and Potato and Spinach Cakes
with Rouille sauce.
Jami and the boys will tell you that I rarely find a recipe that I just "have" to make again. I love the hunt for the perfect recipes and the anticipation of making something new.

A couple of weeks ago, though, I hit upon a couple that are definitely going into the book to make again.

The main course was Steak With a Stout Pan Sauce, and for the side, I made Potato and Spinach Cakes with Rouille.

Normally, I grill outdoors year-round. Cold, rain, it doesn't matter. That comes from a deeply held belief that steaks should be charbroiled over hot coals (no gas grill for me). In fact, the grill would have to be buried under a foot of snow before I'd ever cook a steak on the stove.

Well, guess what? The grill was buried under a foot of snow. I'd picked up a couple of New York strips from United, where they have black Angus beef, and they are incredibly proud of it. Usually, their meat is pretty good, albeit outrageously expensive, but these steaks were superb, and it wasn't just my cooking either.

The recipe below calls for cooking the the steaks in a nonstick pan, but that's just nuts. You simply cannot get a good sear using a nonstick pan. If you have to cook a steak on the stove, I recommend a cast-iron skillet. They get hot enough to properly caramelize the outside of the meat, enhancing the flavor and giving it a more desirable appearance. Yes, it's more work to clean up, but it makes a huge difference in the quality of the meal.

One nice thing about cooking steaks on the stove, though, is that it is much easier to control the temperature, and the four minutes per side listed in the recipe cooked them to perfection (assuming you like medium rare). FYI: I refuse to cook steaks beyond medium rare, so if you don't at least like them that way, don't come over for steaks. I'm, sorry, but it's a moral issue.

I was little surprised that the Stout Pan Sauce didn't call for deglazing the pan to incorporate the brown bits for flavor (the only other reason for cooking a steak inside), but believe me, this sauce does not suffer from any lack of flavor.

Now, I'm not one of those purists who think that its sacrilege to put sauce on a good steak. I agree that a good steak doesn't need sauce, but that doesn't mean a good sauce can't enhance a good steak, and that's exactly what the Stout Pan Sauce does. You can use any Stout beer, and most people would probably opt for Guinness, the best known of the stouts. But to me, Guinness is overrated. Instead, I went with a Sam Adams Cream Stout. It's a little smoother than Guinness. In my opinion, Sam Adams is one of the best, consistent major American breweries out there.

For the side dish, I tried something I'd never done before — make potato cakes. You'll notice that the recipe below calls for kale, but I forgot to get kale during the trip to the grocery store, so I substituted spinach instead, and I actually think it turned out better. These cakes aren't easy to make, and I think I need to work on my technique a little. You are basically taking mashed potatoes, forming them into a patty and then searing them on both sides to form a nice crust. It's not easy keeping the mashed potatoes in a patty form. You really do need the nonstick pan for these, but the pan needs to be hot to make the outside of the cakes crispy. Make sure you cook them in batches, giving yourself plenty of room to flip them.

Done correctly, you kind of end up with a hash browns/mashed potato sandwich. Done incorrectly, and you kind of get a potato blob that's yummy, but not that pretty to look at. Like I said, I need to work on my technique. About half of them turned out "pretty" and half turned out more like blobs.

The recipe calls the sauce a rouille, but to me it's more a remoulade, but regardless of what you call it, it's the perfect topper for these potato cakes.

We rounded out the meal with a mixed greens salad with avocado and some forgettable vinaigrette, but overall, it was an excellent meal and one that we'll make again.

Here are the recipes from Bon Appétit.

Steak with Stout Pan Sauce

yield: Makes 4 servings
active time: 20 minutes
total time: 20 minutes
The product: Stout (like Guinness) is a rich, dark British beer that's full of flavor.
The payoff: Restaurant-caliber pan sauce.


  • 5 teaspoons dijon mustard, divided
  • 2 12-ounce new york strip steaks
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons all purpose flour
  • 1 large garlic clove, pressed
  • 1/2 cup low-salt beef broth
  • 1/2 cup stout
  • 1 tablespoon (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce


Spread 1 teaspoon mustard over steaks; sprinkle with salt and ground black pepper. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook meat about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to plate; tent with foil. Wipe out skillet.
Mash butter and flour in small bowl; set aside. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; sauté 15 to 20 seconds. Add broth; bring to boil. Whisk in stout, brown sugar, soy sauce, 3 teaspoons mustard, and butter mixture. Boil until reduced to 2/3 cup, 2 to 3 minutes.
Thinly slice steaks; divide among plates. Drizzle sauce over and serve. 

Potato and Kale Cakes with Rouille

yield: Makes 12
active time: 1 hour 25 minutes
total time: 1 hour 50 minutes (inudes cooling time)
Mashed potatoes take on a new form in this delicious dish. A mixture of mashed potatoes and wilted kale is shaped into patties and pan-fried,... more
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin Olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

  • 1 1/2 pounds unpeeled russet potatoes, scrubbed, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, divided
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound kale, center rib and stem cut from each leaf, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg


For rouille:
Whisk all ingredients in medium bowl. Season rouille to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
For cakes:
Cook potatoes in large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain; return potatoes to same saucepan. Add milk and butter. Mash potatoes (with peel) until smooth. Season with 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Transfer 3 cups mashed potatoes to large bowl and cool (reserve remaining potatoes for another use).
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in large deep skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Sauté until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Add kale and thyme. Toss until kale wilts, about 5 minutes. Add kale mixture, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg to potatoes; blend. Cool potato mixture 30 minutes.
Shape potato mixture by 1/4 cupfuls into 1/2-inch-thick patties. Arrange on rimmed baking sheet. DO AHEAD: Can be made up to 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add cakes and cook, without moving, until cakes are brown and crispy on bottom, 3 to 4 minutes. Carefully turn cakes over. Cook until brown on bottom, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer to plates. Top each cake with dollop of rouille.

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