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11 Feb 2013 Gunpowder Polly’s Wild West Cowboy Steak

cowboy steak bite on fork 2

Last weekend I had a Wild West themed party at my house.  I suggested to my friends that they come dressed as cowgirls, and they did!  They moseyed on over to the Bar –the Trail Mix Bar– to fill their saddlebags with snacks and quenched their thirst at the watering hole.  I wanted the dinner to be Wild West themed, too, and steak immediately jumped to mind as the perfect main dish (I was later to find out that cowboys rarely ate steak, oops!).  Nevertheless, before steak enlightenment,  I set out to find out how to cook steak for twelve, quickly, accurately and indoors in February!  It was easier than I ever imagined, and more successful, too. After steak enlightenment, I was so excited about this easy, easy way to cook delicious steak that I decided to put it on my Wild West menu anyway.  I also served BBQ drumsticks, onion rings, cornbread with a delicious maple-orange butter, and roasted veggies.  OK, so the menu wasn’t exactly authentic, but it did have a Wild West feel to it 🙂 Also, in preparation for this Wild West dinner, I made place mats out of old blue jeans and bought red bandannas to use as napkins!

Now, for the steak.  Buy some really thick steaks.  I used rib-eyes, but any kind is fine as long as the steaks are thick…, over one-inch thick!  When you get the steaks home, dry age them.  This is a crucial step so buy the steaks early in the week.  Take the plastic wrap off the steaks, place them on a rack, and set them in the refrigerator, uncovered, for up to five days.  That’s right, put the steaks on a (baking) rack (with a tray underneath) in the refrigerator, uncovered, for a few days.  THIS, my friend, is the first half of the equation of a delicious steak.  The second half of the equation is the cooking method in the recipe below. This recipe includes the Cowboy Steak rub I used on my steaks, but you can use any favorite rub, it’s the dry-aging process and cooking process that are important.

For most cowboys,  even for the heartiest meat lovers, one-half of a thick rib steak is probably a good serving size.  I served my cowgirls one-third of a steak each. So with that in mind, your 4 thick steaks, with side dishes, will serve 4 football players, 8 men/boys, or 12 lightweights/small women/teenage girls.

Gunpowder Polly’s Wild West Cowboy Steaks  

(cooked in a modern indoor kitchen)

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika (regular or smoked paprika can be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (can substitute onion powder, if you don’t have garlic powder)
  • 1 teaspoon favorite dried herb, many people like thyme, I prefer basil, some like oregano…put in what you like
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked ancho chili powder (or any other chili powder)
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground coffee beans
  • 4 thick bone-in rib eye steaks ( 1 ¼” to 1 ½ thick; each steak weighing 12 to 16 ounces)
  1. Buy your steaks and dry age them in the refrigerator for up to five days.  Remove the steaks from the package.  Place them on a rack.  Place a tray under the rack to catch any possible drips.  Place the steaks, rack and tray in the refrigerator, uncovered, for up to 5 days.
  2. One or two hours before you want to start cooking, remove steaks from refrigerator and bring to room temperature.
  3. Mix  all rub ingredients –salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, dried green herb, cumin, chili powder, and ground coffee– in small bowl. Sprinkle approx ½ teaspoon of rub mixture over each side of the steaks, press and rub mixture into meat. Let steaks stand at room temperature 1 hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425°.
  5. Get out an oven safe frying pan large enough to fit all steaks (or use two frying pans), put 1T-3T olive oil in the bottom of the frying pan/s and heat (on the stove) until the oil is smoking (but don’t let the oil burn) and the pan is very, very hot.
  6. Keep heat under the pan on high, or medium high if there appears to be imminent danger of fire, and add the steaks to the hot pan.  Do not touch the steaks for the next five minutes.  Let steak cook on high for exactly five minutes.
  7. Turn the heat off.  Quickly turn the steaks over.  Place the still hot pan–with the steaks still in it–into a hot oven. Close the oven door and set the timer for five minutes.
  8. Remove the steaks and pan from the hot oven. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board, cover lightly with foil, and let sit for ten minutes before cutting or serving.
  9. Serve!  You’ll be amazed at how easy it was to cook the perfect medium rare steak.  Your guests will love, love, love the texture and  taste of the steak.  Look at THIS!

My daughter made these delightful cookies for dessert, so fun and tasty! Check her out at Party Girl Cookies or on Facebook 🙂

Here are a few more pictures from my Wild West party, yeeeeHAW!

Thanks for stopping by my Wild West kitchen today!  I hope this recipe becomes a staple in your kitchen, it definitely has in mine 🙂

23 Jul 2011 Beef Skewers

Meat on a stick! Is there anything better?  When I was pregnant with my first child, my cravings were iced tea, tomato soup, and “tasty chunks of beef”!  Twenty-six year later, I still crave tasty chunks of beef!

This is a very easy recipe, resulting is some mighty fine, Asian accented, “tasty chunks of beef”.  Chill the meat for 30 minutes, marinate for 30 minutes, grill and eat.  For a special treat serve with corn-on-the-cob, grilled veggies or a salad and some Bloomin’ Onion Bread!

When I was a single full time working mother of three children I was a master of freezer food.  This was one of my favorites.  Homebaked Chicken Nuggets were another.  I would buy two flank steaks and some skewers.  I’d unroll the flank steaks and then freeze for 30 minutes to make it easier to slice. At the same time I would soak the skewers in cold water.  Then I’d probably sit down with my feet up, an iced coffee and a good book while the the meat chilled and the skewers soaked, LOL!  A sense of humor is a wonderful thing!  More than likely during that thirty minutes I’d finish putting the groceries away, wipe up a spill, ask a telemarketer to put me on the no-call list, solve a kid dispute, feed the dog, move the laundry over, eat lunch and load the dishwasher …  ANYWAY, after thirty minutes I’d slice the beef and thread it onto the skewers.  Then I would layer the skewers into a shoe box sided plastic container.  I’d put wax paper between the layers, and freeze the whole box.  One box would last two or three months and provide plenty of yummy and quick week night main dishes…easily expandable to however many people were home.  Just take out 3-5 skewers per person.  Mix up the marinade.  Marinate the desired number of skewers for 30 minutes, then grill or broil!

Oh, and I often omit the sesame seeds, as I don’t care for them 🙂

Beef Skewers

  • 1 flank steak, approx 1.5 lbs, (unrolled) and slightly frozen (for about 30 min or so)
  • 30 bamboo skewers (soaked in water for 30 minutes)

Marinade

  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Sake (an opened bottle will keep 1 year in refrigerator)
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 ½ teaspoons grated ginger (keep any leftover fresh ginger in baggie in freezer, when ready to use no need to defrost, just peel and grate!)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (toast in dry frying pan until fragrant)
  • 3 green onions sliced

  1. Slice flank steak, across the grain, into thin strips.  Thread meat slices onto skewers, accordion style. It’s easy!  Child’s play!  (NOTE: Meat on sticks can be frozen at this point. When ready to use, just remove from freezer.  Let defrost for as long as it takes to make marinade.  Then continue with recipe.)
  2. Combine soy sauce, sugar, and sake; stir well to dissolve sugar.  Add in garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, and green onions.
  3. Pour over meat on sticks.  Marinate 30 minutes.
  4. Remove skewers from marinade.
  5. Grill over hot fire or broil for 2-3 minutes on each side.  Good hot, room temperature, and cold! I’ve served these as appetizers and as a main dish.

    Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  I hope I have given you an idea for this weekend’s BBQ and for busy school night meals, too!

    16 Jan 2011 Roasted Brussels Sprouts

    Brussels Sprouts ruined every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for the first thirty years of my life.  It was a rule, in my house, that everyone had to eat one Brussels sprout at Thanksgiving dinner and another at Christmas dinner. I dreaded Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner.  Brussels Sprouts were bitter, soggy and all around YUCKY.  I would choke. I would gag.  My stomach would lurch.  I’d grimace.  My family would laugh, but show no mercy. It had to be swallowed. It usually took two bites. Although Brussels Sprouts were number one on my most hated foods list, there were other foods on the list, too: lima beans, pancakes, corn and maple syrup. But! Lima beans, pancakes, corn and maple syrup didn’t constitute a power struggle with my parents.  Brussels sprouts did.

    I was thirty years old before I had the wherewithal to refuse to eat one more Brussels sprout.  When I put down my fork that Christmas, I didn’t pick it up again, for ANY Brussels sprout, for another twenty years.  Whatever possessed me to try Brussels sprouts again, I don’t know, but when I was fifty years old I found out Brussels sprouts could be rendered edible if they were fresh and roasted.  My parents used to serve frozen Brussels sprouts that had been boiled.  Please! Don’t do this!

    Buy fresh Brussels sprouts, preferably on the stalk, and preferably after the first frost (Brussels sprouts that have been nipped by frost are sweeter).  Old green beans don’t taste good, neither do old carrots or old mushrooms.  Cook the Brussels sprouts soon after harvest, and roast them using the recipe below (which is based on a recipe I found at Epicurious.com in 2004).  They’re GOOD!

    Of all my hated foods, the only one left on the list is lima beans. And I’m afraid that I raised my kids to hate them, too.  I told them they never, ever, ever have to eat a lima bean. Then wouldn’t you know, a very nice, very personable college boy takes a liking to one of my daughters.  After awhile, he invites her over to his parents farm to have lunch with his parents.  His parents are lima bean farmers, ROFL!!  She had lima beans for lunch!! Fortunately, the relationship hasn’t progressed to the point where I have been invited to meet the parents and have lima beans for lunch!

    Roasted Brussels Sprouts

    1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

    2 oz. pancetta, minced (2 oz. thick, good quality bacon can be substituted)

    1 garlic clove, minced

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    2 tablespoons white wine (or chicken broth)

    salt and pepper, to taste

    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
    2. In a bowl, toss together sprouts, pancetta, garlic, oil, wine and salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a shallow baking pan.  Make sure the Brussels sprouts are laying flat in a single layer.
    3. Roast Brussels sprouts for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Turn over, and roast for an additional 15 minutes.
    4. Serve hot.  Makes four servings.

    Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today! Go ahead!  Make this recipe! You won’t be disappointed 🙂

    10 Jan 2011 Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets

    I know a thing or two about chicken nuggets as I have been making them for two decades with a recipe very similar to the one Sara Moulton contributed to The 150 Best American Recipes.  Sara calls her version  “Garlicky Baked Chicken”, but I think she uses thighs or chicken-on-the-bone.  I don’t.  I use the same coating as she does, but I make chicken nuggets from boneless chicken tenders. To die for.

    Make a bag-full of chicken nuggets to keep in the freezer. Double the recipe! You will be so glad you did. If you have kids at home, this recipe will probably become a staple.  Check out my recipe for Oven Baked Fries, too.  Put the two recipes together and you’ll be able to bake up some better-than-McDonalds Home Baked Happy Meals on a regular basis!

    Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets

    6 T. butter
    4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I use the minced-in-a-jar kind)
    2 cups Panko* (Japanese breadcrumb, found in the Asian section of the grocery store-regular or Italian Herb)
    1 t. kosher salt
    ½ t. black pepper
    1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (not that stuff in the green shaker tube)
    3 lbs. chicken tenders (for chicken nuggets cut each chicken tender into two pieces)

    Melt the butter and the garlic in a shallow bowl. Mix the Panko*, grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in another shallow bowl. Set out a cooling rack. One at a time, dip the chicken pieces into the garlic/butter, and then into the Panko/parmesan mix. Once the chicken is well coated with crumbs place on rack to dry for a bit. (Use one hand for dipping in the butter and placing in the breadcrumbs, use the other hand for dipping in the breadcrumbs and putting on the rack. If you don’t use this alternate hand method, you’ll get big clumps of gunk on the fingers of both hands). When chicken has dried a bit, transfer to a plate or tray and place in freezer until firm. Once chicken is firm remove from plate and place in Ziploc bag and return to freezer.

    To bake:

    You need a hot oven to get a nice brown color to the nuggets. I cook at anywhere between 375º and 425º (preferring 425º). Take desired quantity of frozen nuggets from freezer and place on cookie sheetwhich has been sprayed lightly with a cooking spray or lined with parchment paper (to prevent nuggets from sticking to pan). Place in hot oven for 6-8 minutes. Turn over and cook for an additional 6-8 minutes. DONE! Serve as is, or with any desired dipping sauce. My son likes ketchup.  My daughter likes honey mustard.  On of my daughter’s friends swears by ranch dressing.
    Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  See you tomorrow!

    *Panko is my current favorite to use for chicken nuggets but in the past I have also used a wide variety of homemade and boxed breadcrumbs (both the plain and the Italian kinds)—and one time I even used crushed Wheaties! Everything seems to work with this recipe. One of the notes in The 150 Best American Recipes suggests adding some chopped pecans to the breadcrumbs. Now I’ve never done this, but nut-lovers might want to consider it!

    09 Jan 2011 Oven Baked Fries

    It seems as if it’s been a long since I posted anything.  The kids have been home, some of their friends have been here for varying hours and days, and my grandson has been staying here, so I have been focused on big batch cooking of tried-and-true family favorites.  The few new things I’ve made haven’t been Great or, if they have been, they’ve been devoured before I got my camera focused!  It’s been a mad-house around here!  Thank goodness they’ve all gone for three days.  I can post!

    One of the family favorites I’ve made repeatedly over the last few weeks has been our oven baked fries.  My friend Mary first made these for me about 25 years ago.  I was so impressed to go over to her house for lunch and she had a basket of home baked fries on the table.  Not only were they a big hit with me, but they were also a big hit with our preschool daughters.

    Since then, I’ve seen recipe after recipe for oven baked fries.  I think America’s Test Kitchen has one that calls for blanching the sliced potatoes in boiling water before baking.  I tried it, and it didn’t work any better than Mary’s way.  Another recipe had me sprinkling a lot of Kosher salt on the baking tray to lift the potatoes off the tray a bit and help with the browning.  That didn’t work magic either.  Here are my “secrets”, as passed onto me by Mary: use a mixture of butter and olive oil [1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil on one baking tray], use smallish potatoes of equal size and cut each into eight wedges.

    Oven Baked Fries

    • Approx. 1 small Russet potato for each person
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter for each baking tray
    • Kosher salt and freshly grated pepper

    Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

    Spend sometime picking the right potatoes.  Choose potatoes on the small size, and choose potatoes that are roughly the same size. Scrub the outside of the Russet Potatoes to remove all the dirt and soil then dry.

    Place baking tray in preheated oven to get hot.

    Cut each potato in half lengthwise, then half again, then half again.  You should have eight wedges from each potato.

    Remove baking tray from oven.  Place olive oil and butter on baking tray and swirl until melted and evenly coating the bottom of the tray.

    Place the potato wedges on the preheated baking tray on top of the melted butter and olive oil.  Make it easy on yourself and place all the wedges going to same direction in equally spaced rows.  You should be able to get all the wedges from 3 or 4 small potatoes onto one baking sheet.

    Place tray in oven and bake at 425º for 20 minutes.

    Remove tray from oven and turn over each wedge.  This is why you put all the wedges facing the same way.  Now you know which wedges you’ve turned and which you haven’t! Return tray to oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

    After flipping, your wedges should look like this:

    After baking both sides your wedges should look like this:

    Check your fries. Do they look brown enough?  Are they cooked through? (Taste one, but be careful, it’s HOT).  If necessary, flip wedges one more time and return to oven for an additional 5 minutes.

    Remove potatoes to a paper towel lined platter to drain (if you wish). Sprinkle with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Remove fries to a serving bowl.  Serve hot with ketchup or leftover blue cheese dips.

    For years I made these for our “family night”.  We watched a family-friendly video, ate Chicken Nuggets, home fries, and corn-on-the-cob or broccoli.  Fun times! Oh my goodness, I just realized my Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets recipe has not been transferred from my facebook “Polly, Julie. and Julia” page.  I’ll do that right now.  I hope that an Oven Baked Chicken Nugget and Fries  family dinner is in your future soon!

    Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Hope to see you again tomorrow!

    17 Oct 2010 Roasted Rosemary-Garlic Chicken with . . .

    . . .  New Potatoes and Seared Asparagus Spears!

    My friend John, the rugged he-man, Lake Superior Chef (of Asian Glazed Thigh fame), has submitted another recipe.   I am posting this now because it sounds like it’s just the thing for a Sunday supper.  Go now! Get a chicken! You can have this for dinner tonight!

    John says: “I adapted the chicken and potato recipe from Williams-Sonoma.  The recipe for the asparagus spears is my own.  I like this recipe for a number of reasons…, you only have to use two pans and one bowl, your kitchen smells wonderful when you’re done, you can drink chardonnay while you cook and the recipe is so easy.”

    Roasted Rosemary-Garlic Chicken

    with New Potatoes and Seared Asparagus Spears

    Ingredients:

    3 cloves garlic (diced)
    2 sprigs fresh rosemary (rough chop)
    1 roaster chicken (3 to 5 lbs)
    1 ½ lbs small red potatoes, quartered
    Olive oil
    Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
    Asparagus spears, washed and trimmed.

    Directions For Cooking the Chicken and Potatoes:

    Preheat oven to 400º.
    Pour a glass of cool (not cold) chardonnay to enjoy while you cook.
    Mix olive oil, garlic and rosemary in small bowl.
    Coat chicken with olive oil mixture, reserving about ¼ of the mixture for the potatoes.
    Place chicken in a large oven-proof fry pan, breast side up.  Tuck wings behind back, and tie the legs together.
    In another bowl, stir together potatoes and remaining olive oil mixture.
    Arrange the potatoes around the chicken, sprinkle both chicken and potatoes with salt and pepper, and transfer pan to oven.
    Roast until instant read thermometer (inserted into thickest part of the breast, away from bone) registers 160º F, about 60 to 70 minutes.
    Transfer chicken to carving board and cover loosely with foil.  Let rest for 10 minutes.

    Directions for Roasting the Asparagus:

    Rinse asparagus and pat dry.
    Coat with olive oil, salt and pepper.
    Heat ribbed skillet over high heat until “screaming hot”.
    Sear asparagus, turning frequently.
    Transfer skillet to oven (still hot from cooking the chicken) for five minutes.

    To Serve:

    Carve the chicken and serve with potatoes and asparagus.  Another  glass of chardonnay wouldn’t hurt either!

    Now doesn’t that sound good?  I think a slice of the Chocolate-Pumpkin cake–I just posted the recipe–would round off this meal quite nicely!