Monday, February 4, 2013

0 Recipe #344: Mushroom Pepper Steak

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Made this steak yesterday for lunch. That means I had to start cooking it at around 10 or 10:30 am. That might seem strange to some to start making mushroom pepper steak so early -- and it certainly sometimes feels odd to me too :) -- but that's what needs to be done to get a decent photo. What a gal has to do for good natural lighting. ;) Only one catch: yesterday was really overcast, and it was really hard to get bright enough lighting, except for a brief flash of sun rays, which lasted less than 5 minutes. Thankfully, I was able to take advantage of those precious minutes, but the light still wasn't strong enough for an ideal session. To compound the situation, I didn't really have enough of a time window to play around with the food arrangement as much as I would've liked. Hence the below photo. ;) How's that for honest? :-D

It's not that the above photo is so horrible, (relatively speaking), but rather, just not as good as I would've liked. However, there's no time to fix that now. Got to move onto the next Paleo recipe and get the remainder of the testing done (for the Paleo Fitness book) ASAP! There are only a handful more recipes to test (and photograph) after this one -- and while getting a great photo is certainly a bonus, it's not of the essence right now. The recipes are frankly just more important, because that's what people will see in the book. (Thankfully, none of the Paleo food photos will appear in the book, just on this blog as well as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Pinterest. Lol. I'm insanely busy as is, so it's one less thing to have to be perfectionistic about. And book photos really do have to be perfect.) There have also been so many grey mornings in the past few weeks, but I don't have time to fuss over dish placement or food arrangement or wait for the perfect lighting. This is probably why you see such mixed results here lately in terms of photo quality. There, I said it.

In fact, when Erik saw the results of the photo session, he agreed with my assessment that the dish should probably be reshot, and maybe at some point, it will. (However, now is definitely not that time.) He also said that there were so many mushrooms on the steak that he could barely tell there was a steak underneath. :) Of course, this comment was made after we'd already eaten the steak. Lol. I replied, "That means I'll have to make another steak for a photo reshoot. His response? "Fine by me." :)

So, please just ignore the above photo and imagine a perfectly composed dish with excellent lighting instead. :) Regardless, know this: The recipe tasted good -- it got two thumbs way up from Erik, and really, when it comes right down to it, isn't that what truly counts?! OK, the explanation is over now, I promise. Carry on. :)

(Please note that the recipe featured below is the non-Paleo version, with the Paleo modifications shown in parentheses.)

Mushroom Pepper Steak

Steak Ingredients:
1 8 oz. steak filet (about 3/4-1" thick), at room temperature (remove from refrigerator at least 30 minutes before grilling)
1 tsp. cracked black peppercorns (crack peppercorns with a pepper mill)
2 tsp. coarse ground salt, or to taste (omit if Paleo)
2 tsp. fennel seeds
2 tsp. garlic powder

Sautéed Mushrooms (Ingredients):
1 Tbsp. avocado oil
1/4 c. shallots, peeled and finely minced (about 1 large shallot)
1 c. mushrooms, quartered
1/16 tsp. salt
1/16 tsp. ground black pepper, or to taste
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/8 c. red wine* (if Paleo, substitute beef stock or water)

Directions: Preheat grill to high. Mix together all of the steak spices (cracked black pepper, fennel seeds, and garlic powder) in a small bowl. Put steak on a large plate, then sprinkle spice mix on top. Using tongs, grasp steak, flip over, and season on the other side. Then place steak filet onto its side, and gently press it into the remaining spices on the plate, rotating it around until all sides have been thoroughly spiced, and place onto hot grill. Grill steak, with top down, for about 3-5 minutes per side (for medium rare), or until desired temperature has been reached. (Remember that once it's done, the steak's temperature will continue to rise a few more degrees as it rests, so be sure not to overcook your steak.) At about the half-way point, cut into steak with a fork and knife to check for doneness, and flip to the other side when ready. When done, remove from heat and let rest on a heatproof plate for 5 minutes before serving. Divide steak into 2 portions and place onto dinner plates.

While steak is resting, heat avocado oil in a large (12-13") sauté pan and sauté over medium heat for about 60 seconds, then reduce heat to low, add shallots and sauté for about 2 minutes, or until translucent. Add mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and pepper (from about 10-12" or so above, for even distribution), and sauté until tender, about 5 more minutes. Then deglaze with red white (or beef stock/water), stirring continually, and cook for more 5-6 minutes, or until mushrooms are golden brown. In the last 3 minutes of cooking time, add the fresh thyme leaves and stir to combine. Remove from heat, and serve while hot, alongside (or on top of) steak. Enjoy!

Yield: 2 servings.

Chef's Notes: *Regarding the red wine selection, a Zinfandel or Malbec will do nicely, but just be sure that it's nothing too oaky. (IMHO, avoid Cabs and Merlots; they're way too overpowering for this dish.)

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