Eating better food for less and other tales from a no-moneymoon

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A (Slightly) Steakhouse Dinner

This fall weather, and a bit of a lingering sniffle, made me think we needed some heartier--but no less healthy--fare in these parts. That's want sent us (bargain) hunting to the meat aisle for something beyond the usual lean cuisine.

As it turned out, the meat manager was smiling down on us and had put out an odd combo pack: a sirloin roast, cubes and thin sliced steaks. Three pounds of bright red beef for $10 at Fairway. Deal! Visions of restocking the freezer danced in my head and we were quickly on our way to a steak dinner -- or my mock version of one.

I wasn't sure what to do with a sirloin roast. It's a tender cut (so the meat manager said) and therefore not a good match for slow cooking. Said manager gave me his advice and it turned out pretty well, I think. Almost a roast beef consistency if I hadn't sliced it so thick. Also on deck: oven fries from our CSA potato supply and a low-fat version of creamed spinach using some bigs leaves also from the CSA that week.

Sirloin Roast Straight Up
2 pound beef sirloin roast

Salt and pepper the roast and place in a roasting pan with rack. Cook at 350F for 40 minutes, 20 minutes per pound. I guesstimated the weight (must get kitchen scale...) but it was a lovely dark pink inside so I think I guessed correctly. Two tips: 1. Let it rest for a while. 2. Slice as thinly as possible. Mine were a little thick which made the slices a bit less tender than anticipated.

Meanwhile...make those:

Oven Steak Fries
5-6 small-medium potatoes, red and yellow
olive oil
salt pepper

I'm usually very disappointed with "oven" fries. But I finally realized that it's all about the expectation. Oven roasted fries are not real fries. They are an approximation and if you give up the hope that they will be magically as crispy as real fries you will be way more pleased than you might imagine with the final product here. They were crispy, and soft on the inside, and full of potato flavor, but in a way totally different from a deep fried potato.

Cut the potatoes, skin on, into thin wedges. Coat on the baking tray with olive oil, a clove or two of minced garlic, salt and pepper. Bake 40 minutes at 350F along side the roast, then with the roast out turn it up for 20 minutes at 420F.

Now with the fries roasting, the roast resting, it's time to saute the spinach and make it creamy.

"Creamed" Spinach
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon oil
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup milk, 1 %
Spinach, about a 1/2 pound
nutmeg, freshly ground
salt and pepper

What we're doing here is faking a bechamel sauce, since it's just a tiny bit of butter and flour, and a splash of low fat milk. In a medium saute pan, melt the butter and oil together. Add the chopped onion and stir around until the onions are translucent, but not brown. Turn down the heat and sprinkle flour right on top. Mix it around and let the flour absorb any liquid. Cook the floured combo for about a minute. Now dribble in some milk and stir. You don't want the milk solids to stick to the pan. Keep adding milk slowly until you begin to see a very little bit of white sauce. Now add the spinach and stir as it wilts. Grate some fresh nutmeg and salt and pepper. Done!

And of course, add a big glass of red wine.

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