Our Anniversary Dinner

Our Anniversary Dinner

Yesterday, we celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary. I made a nice meal of flank steak, balsamic-glazed Brussels sprouts, grilled carrots, and sauteed shallots.

I don’t really have recipes for these foods, but I can tell you what I did.

Flank steak can be a tough cut of meat, so on each side, I scored it about every inch and about a 1/4 inch deep. The grain of a flank steak goes the long way of the meat, but I score at 45 degrees of the grain, first upper left to lower right, and then upper right to lower left. When done, you should have little squares cut into, but not through, the meat about 1 inch on the side.  (I guess the next time I make this, I will take pictures of the process.)

Then I take 4-6 cloves of garlic, crush them and mince them. I sprinkle a teaspoon of coarse salt on it, some black pepper and a tablespoon olive oil.  With the flat of a heavy knife, I grind this into a wonderfully aromatic paste.  I spread half on each side, cover it and let it rest for about an hour.

Meanwhile, I peeled the carrots and sliced them in half. I put them in the microwave and cooked them until hot and just getting soft.  I set those aside.

The Brussels sprouts are small. I spent a lot of time at the bulk bin in my grocery store, searching for as many small ones as I could find. I wanted cherry tomato sized sprouts. (They had many that were larger than hen’s eggs.) I must have looked like a picky freak (which would have been accurate) but I wanted similar sizes so they would cook at the same rate. Don’t be afraid to be picky when it comes to your food. When you go to good restaurants, the chefs will insist on only the best pieces. Why shouldn’t you do the same for yourself and your loved ones? I cut the dried stems off, and pulled off any loose leaves. Then I put them in a colander and vigorously rinsed them under cold water.

(As often as I make this dish, and as much as I love them, I really think I need to visit Brussels, Belgium. That will make for some fun blog posts!)

Lastly, I peeled and thinly sliced the shallots. Then I turned my grill on high and let it preheat.

I put a large and a small non-stick skillet on the stove. Two teaspoons olive oil went in the large and one teaspoon in the small.  When hot, I carefully put the Brussels sprouts (they are wet, so they might splatter) in the large skillet and the shallots in the small. I ground a bit of fresh pepper and coarse salt on each and spent about five minutes tossing them every minute or so.  Then I turned the heat on the shallots down to medium-low (but I still tossed them occasionally because I wanted them soft and cooked, but not fully caramelized.) I poured four ounces of wine (use your favorite) into the Brussels sprouts and covered them, turning the heat down to medium. I let them steam for about five minutes (or until they start to get soft.) Then I removed the cover, turned the heat back to medium-high, and added four ounces of balsamic vinegar. I went back to frequent tossing to coat all the sprouts with the vinegar as it reduces and becomes more syrup-like. When done (you will know when you toss them and the vinegar is sticking to the sprouts) I turned the heat off and covered them.  I turned the heat of the shallots at the same time.  (The total cook time for the veggies is about 15 minutes.)

Finally, I went out to the grill, and using paper towel and tongs, I coated the grate with oil to help prevent sticking. I turned the fire to medium and laid the steak on one half of the grill, and the carrots on the other half.  The steak was about one inch thick, so six minutes per side will be rare to medium rare, seven per side will be medium rare.  Eight minutes per side will be more medium. I actually don’t know what happens at nine minutes per side, because I don’t cook steaks any more than medium.

The steak above is a 13 minute steak (seven on the first, six on the second) with a 10 minute rest before carving.

The carrots will be done right before the steak. Turn them from side to side until they begin to get dark and a tiny bit charred in spots. (They will be soooo sweet and flavorful!)

Carve the meat into 1/4 inch slices, across the grain. I topped the meat with a pile of shallot. No steak sauce or ketchup (catsup, depending on where you live) is ever served with my steaks. 

Pictured above is six ounces of steak, two whole carrots cut in half, about 15 Brussels sprouts, and two large shallots.

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