You may have noticed that it's been quite some time since NDP posted, say, a recipe for chicken. Or meat. It's probably starting to look like I'm a closeted vegetarian, but I swear, I'm really not. It's just that eating factory-farmed beef and poultry gives me the creeps. Blame Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma for showing me just how repulsive factory-farmed steers' lives are. It's just hard to imagine eating a cow that spends its life cooped up in tight quarters with other cows, is forced to eat a diet of grain (not cattle's natural food source) that obviously makes it sick, and then sits in a pool of...frankly?...its own poop. Yuck.
A couple months ago, this fear really got the best of me, and I pretty much stopped buying meat. Kosher meat is hard enough to find; organic, grass-fed beef is nearly non-existent in these parts. For months, I satisfied my cravings for meat with Morningstar Farms (which, as you've read, makes a pretty mean substitute not just for meat but for bacon, as well). For quite some time, this impromptu vegetarian lifestyle was perfectly fine. I've never been a particularly regular meat eater, anyway, and D made do with the occasional meat meal at friends' houses. But at a certain point, my cravings for real, honest-to-god boeuf got the best of me, so I started doing some research. To my genuine surprise, a synagogue right near where we live actually has an arrangement with a local farm, and every two weeks, they bring in a truckload of local, organic, grass-fed beef. Customers buy a "share" of beef or lamb (!), and that share contains between 25 and 30 pounds of assorted cuts, which might include ribeyes, minute steaks, pepper steaks, briskets, cube meat, flanken, ground meat, chuck steak, and more. The meat certainly isn't cheap, but after my having my first taste of it tonight, I can assure you the price is well worth every penny.
I split my share with Eitan -- a fellow food adventurer who took the plunge with me (thanks E!), and I'm hoping he's as pleased as I am with the outcome. Hell, even D the subway lover said that tonight's dinner was "the best job with steak I'd ever done!" And I have to agree with her. That's partly thanks to the delicious and easy recipe I'll share here -- a simple concoction of red wine, red wine vinegar, some sugar, dried cherries, and some dijon mustard -- but the quality of the meat is in no small part responsible for the tasty factor of tonight's supper. The meat just tastes so darn good -- so, um, beefy! I'm really glad to have so much more (ahem, 15 pounds or so?) of this delicious meat waiting for us in the freezer.
**For those who were interested in the source of the meat: Tifereth Israel, a synagogue in Upper Northwest DC, brings in the meat from a local farm every couple weeks. Their website is http://www.tifereth-israel.org .
Minute Steak with Cherry Red Wine Sauce from The Washington Post
1/4 cup red wine vinegar 1/4 cup water 1/2 cup dry red wine 1/2 cup dried tart cherries 1/2 cup sugar 3 medium red onions 1 1/2 to 2 pounds thinly sliced top-round minute steak, cut into serving-size pieces Salt Freshly ground black pepper 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard (optional)
Combine the vinegar, water, red wine, dried cherries and sugar over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then remove from the heat and let rest for 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the onions into rings about 1/2 inch thick. Season the beef generously on both sides with salt and pepper.
Transfer the cherry mixture to a blender or food processor and puree to form a thick, almost-smooth sauce. (I skipped this step, and rather preferred the lovely soft texture that the cherries added to the sauce.) Add the mustard and pulse to combine; season with salt and pepper to taste. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the sauce and place the remaining sauce in a large mixing bowl. Add the onions; toss to coat evenly.
When ready to cook, preheat a large grill pan over high heat. Use tongs to transfer the onion rings to the grill pan and cook for 2 minutes, turning them over once.
Meanwhile, add the beef to the sauce in the mixing bowl and turn to coat on both sides. Move the onion rings aside in the grill pan and use tongs to add the beef to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes, then turn the meat and onions over and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, moving them around in the pan, until evenly done.
To serve, drizzle the reserved sauce over the beef; divide among individual plates, along with the onions. Serve hot.