Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Return of the Quail!

Due to overwhelming demand to provide the next installment of our adventures in urban hunting and gathering, Beyond the Quail is back!

To be quite honest, Ms. Quail and I went through a prolonged period of being unimpressed by the restaurants we tried, and so the desire to keep up with the legions of regular NYC food bloggers word count flagged. Who would ever want to write about mediocre experiences? This isn’t a journal, after all. We needed to be inspired again!

So what did we do?
We stayed home, of course, in the official Beyond the Quail Closet-Apartment ™, and cooked. Night after night we fed ourselves the old-fashioned way (how quaint). Before long, we realized that the food we cooked was often as good or better than what we were getting in restaurants. Not to say that we’re master chefs, but we do all right for ourselves. So clearly it makes sense for the site to reflect what has been working for us.

It’s time for home recipes, folks. Just folksy enough to get away with leaving out exact cooking times and ingredient measurements. Here’s the first of two:

We like our steaks cut straight from the cow as it passes by (to our good vegetarian friends: look away, or cover your eyes with hummus or something). At least I think we do – people are always saying fresh stuff is better, after all. But really, no cows have wandered by us on the Upper West Side, so it’s hard to know for sure. It’s not for lack of us waiting around Broadway with cleavers, certainly. Recently, there was a brouhaha surrounding certain steakhouses in New York and the critic who was reviewing them. All right, to be less cryptic: Frank Bruni and Kobe Club, not necessarily in that order (Bruni! The Steakhouse! Coming soon!)

Kobe beef is, of course, fatty beef cut straight from a fat cow as it walks through a restaurant. Actually, I don’t think that’s true. I can’t be sure, because Kobe Beef is much too expensive for us to ever order, anyway. Staff from restaurants that serve the stuff have been known to slap us across the face with their white gloves if we get too close to the entrance. Okay, that’s not true either. But trust me, beef can be expensive.

Luckily, we’ve found a way around the prohibitive price. We won’t be buying any well-aged or designer beef, but with the help of a simple marinade, we’ve made a cheap cut of meat into something fairly addictive. We’ve turned to the flavors of Korean barbeque, and the simple, affordable skirt steak. Yes, skirt, the one that many books will warn you off for fear of toughness. For the record, these books are either crazy or outdated, because most of the skirts we’ve bought have been exceedingly tender and flavorful (hanger steaks seem a little more hit-or-miss). This recipe is so simple that it hardly qualifies as a recipe, but here goes:

Marinate skirt steak in rice wine, chili-garlic sauce (often stocked in the international aisle of a grocery store), minced fresh ginger, about a tablespoon of sesame oil, lots of black pepper, salt and/or soy sauce, and a couple tablespoons of oil, such as canola. It works best to do this in a plastic freezer bag. Let the steak marinate for at least a half-hour in the fridge. Preheat a skillet or grill pan at about medium-high – it should be quite hot - and then throw the steak on (get rid of the marinade). There will be a lot of sizzle, and eventually some smoke, but it won’t be cooking very long. Let it sear for just less than two minutes on each side for medium-rare, depending on your stove. Cooking more than this will bring you dangerously close to the toughness for which skirt is known. Serve with rice.

We also like to serve this with some halved-lengthwise Brussels sprouts that have been tossed with minced garlic, salt, and olive oil and roasted until they’re heavily browned, and then flipped over and roasted some more. The sprouts take a long time, maybe a half hour, and are hard to overcook. Try to get these nearly done before the steak goes in the pan.

It ain’t Kobe, but it’s pretty darn good, and quick, to boot.

Coming up next is another simple recipe with big results. Of course, since our cooking extravaganzas, we have also managed to find some mind-blowing food in restaurants but you’ll just have to wait until next time to read about those…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is it time for another semi-annual entry?? The answer is yes.