03/28/14

Steak for a crowd, without breaking the bank.

Flank Steak & Pasta

SimplySmartDinnerPlans subscriber Nicole asks:

My high school daughter has a dance next weekend and her and her friends have decided to have a home dinner instead of going out.

They want Steak & pasta. Do you have any suggestions for a menu? There will be 10 of them. Me and one other mom will be putting this together and would like something fairly easy, not too pricey and teen friendly.

Any help would be appreciated

– Nicole

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Nicole,

Thank you for your email!

Okay, steak and pasta for 10, without breaking the bank…we can do this! To get the most bang for your buck, flavor-wise, I would go with skirt or flank steak. It’s fast and easy to pan fry, moderately priced, melts in your mouth, and brings HUGE steak flavor to the table, without needing to provide a huge serving of steak.

Keep in mind that for most of history (and still in much of the world), meat was used as a flavoring agent to enhance dishes, not a giant slab of protein served as the centerpiece of a meal. Not only is this a more economical eating style, but it’s healthier, too.

This is one of my favorite steak recipes, and I think it would be a perfect fit by adding some nice hot al dente fettuccine, tossed in the pan juices. Top with the thin-sliced flank steak, alongside a big salad and some steamed veggies, and you’ll have a winner!

If you REALLY want to rock it, sprinkle everything with some grated asiago cheese, just before serving!

flank-steakThe flank steak, also known as bavette, is a beef steak cut from the abdominal muscles of the cow. It is long, thin, and full of tough connective tissue.

It is usually marinated before being broiled or grilled whole. Because it is tough, you usually slice it thinly on a diagonal across the grain to sever the tough fibers and make the flavorful steak chewable.

I’ve found that if I cook it quickly, over the hottest heat I can manage, I don’t need a marinate, and get more the true beef flavor. For my money, this is one of the best tasting cuts on the cow.

Pan-Seared Flank Steak with Fettuccine
Serves 6

1 1/2 lbs. fettuccine pasta
2 tbsp. butter
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 1½-lb. piece flank steak, about ¾” thick
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 bunch green onions, sliced (green and white parts)

Cook the fettuccine in salted water, until al dente. Keep warm. See our post: “5 Tips for Perfect Pasta” Reserve 1-2 cups of the pasta water.

Warm butter and garlic in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook until garlic is fragrant, about 5 minutes. Discard garlic. Set butter aside in a warm place.

Pat steak dry with paper towels, then season liberally on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. When pan begins to smoke, coat with oil, then add steak (oil will spatter). For rare (or “properly cooked”), sear until almost black, about 4 minutes on each side.

Don’t move steak until ready to turn.

NoForksNote: Never, ever, ever turn a steak with a meat fork, a knife, or anything else that punctures the meat (and lets all of those amazing juices escape). Always turn your steaks (or chicken, or pork) with tongs.

Transfer the steak to a platter, and top with garlic butter. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm, and allow steak to rest for 15 minutes. Pour 1/2 of any juices that collect in the platter, back into the pan, reserve the other half.

While the steak is resting, bring the juices in the pan up to medium heat. Deglaze the pan with 1 cup of pasta water and reduce by half. Using tongs, add your pasta to the pan and toss to coat evenly. Remove pasta from from hot pan immediately, and set aside. Keep warm.

Cut across flank steak the grain into ¼” slices and portion beside (or on top of) the noodles. Spoon the reserved juices over steak, and top with green onions and grated asiago cheese (optional).

Serve with a big green salad and steamed veggies.

Enjoy!

-Chef Perry

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03/26/12

Frugal Foodie Video Tip: Be your own butcher

Buy whole chickens, or bone-in breasts, and cut them yourself instead of using chicken breasts. Yes, pre-cut chicken breasts are handy and easy to use but, as we all know, they’re are also a LOT more expensive.

When I find whole chickens on sale, or at a good price, I buy several and go home and have a butcher party!

Legs, thighs, and wings get bagged together; breasts get deboned (leave the skin on, if freezing, to help protect the meat, you can toss it after you thaw the breasts for cooking) and bagged, and, lastly, the backs, necks, and scraps get bagged and frozen to make my own broth later. – If you have the time, make your broth now, let it cool, and freeze in dedicated ice-cube trays for easy use in future recipes.

Butchering a chicken, and deboneing chicken breasts are a lot more intimidating than they are actually difficult to do.

Here are two great video clips that will walk you through the process for each!

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