Steak; Mushroom Ragout and Caramelized Onions

September 2, 2008


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I' m not a big red meat eater, which I think makes the occasional steak all the more delicious. Sometimes I can literally feel myself filling up with energy when I eat a piece of meat—like Popeye with a can of spinach. I' ve lost a lot of nice shirts over unexpectedly bulging biceps. That is a lie. But eating steak really does make me feel spectacular. I also made a recent vow over a caramelized onion cheeseburger at J.G. Melon' s in New York, to discover how to make great caramelized onions myself. They' re not your typical August dish, but they' re so good I just couldn' t imagine steak without them. A nice, hearty mushroom sauce would go perfectly with this winter pre-season meal. I started this off with the asparagus and arugula salad and accompanied it with a La Crema Pinot Noir.

Caramelized Onions:

Heat in a large skillet over medium-high heat until melted: 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. * Add 3 pounds of yellow or white onions, thinly sliced. * Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. * Stir constantly 15 minutes. * Reduce heat and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until onions are soft and brown, about 40 minutes. * If residue builds up in the pan, add ½ c dry white wine. * Stir and scrape brown bits. They will mix into the onions and make them richer and darker. * Season with salt and black pepper and grated parmesan.

Mushroom Ragout:

On low heat soak 1 oz dried mushrooms in small, covered saucepan in about 2 c of water. * Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in large saucepan over medium / high heat. * Add and cook one finely chopped onion, stirring until golden (6 minutes). * Remove the onion and set aside. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in the same pan. * Add 1 pound of fresh mushrooms thickly sliced and cook until they release their juices. * Add back the onion along with 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic and 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary (or ΒΌ teaspoon dried rosemary). Cook until the mushrooms begin to brown, another 3-4 minutes. * Add 1 tbsp tomato paste and stir in, cooking another 2 minutes. * Add strained broth from your mushrooms. * Clean and chop dried mushrooms (removing any sand) and add to saucepan. * Reduce heat and gradually stir in another tablespoon of oil if desired. * Add 1 ½ teaspoons balsamic vinegar. * Garnish with shaved parmesan and chopped parsley.

You' ll find both of these recipes in The Joy of Cooking, though I adapted somewhat to use less butter. I also used mushroom juice instead of chicken or vegetable stock in the ragout, which I think gave it a richer flavor. Either way, these were both great next to and on top of a grilled steak. If you like your meat with starch, a baked potato would also be a perfect vehicle for either of these toppings.

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