Dude Food – Part 1: Meat and Potatoes

July 13, 2013

I like to cook. Some of you know that. I also like to read about food, and I sometimes write stuff, so doing a blog post about food seemed like an idea that made sense. This is part 1. Will there be a part 2? I don’t really know. I hope so, but I have this awful habit of starting things and never finishing them. Anyway, I thought a good place to start would be the classic dude food: meat and potatoes. I don’t want to brag, but I cook a steak so damn good that when you’re done eating it you’ll try to kiss me on the mouth. (Right after you stop crying sweet tears of pleasure, of course.)

It’s a classic. We all grew up eating it in one form or another. Most of us are accustomed to eating overcooked meats with baked or mashed potatoes served with a side of green beans and some gravy if we were lucky. Pure shit, really. And it’s a shame because it really doesn’t take a whole lot of skill to do this right.

Let’s get started, huh?

Part 1: Tools

Like any job worth doing, you need the right tools. People spend stupid amounts of money on fancy stuff for their kitchen that will either never get used or, even worse, never improve the quality of their cooking. Here’s what I used for this dish:

1) 8-inch Wusthof chef knife

2) 13-inch Calphalon deep saute’ pan

3) Tongs

4) Cutting board

5) 10 inch non-stick frying pan

That’s it. 2 pans, 2 tools, and a cutting board.

Part 2: Ingredients

1) 16-ounce organic, grass-fed New York strip steak

2) Sliced Shiitake mushrooms

3) Small golden potatoes

4) Rendered duck fat

5) A handful of cherry tomatoes

6) Salt & Pepper (Ahhh, push it)

7) Sprig of rosemary

8) Smoked paprika

9) Olive oil

Your ingredients will look something like this. Sorry for the crappy photo.



Okay, so the first thing you want to do is preheat your oven to 400 degrees. You’re going to want it to be ready when you’re done searing the steak on the pan. Next, salt and pepper the steak. Don’t use Morton’s salt that comes in the blue cardboard can, get something coarse. Same goes for the pepper. Now, you’re going to want to sprinkle a little on and think that’s enough, but it’s not. COVER THE MEAT WITH SALT. Trust me, most of it comes off in cooking and you’re going to need a lot to penetrate the surface and add any real flavor. It should look exactly like this if you’re doing it right:


Seems like a lot of salt, huh? It’s not. It’s just enough to do the job.

While the meat is sitting in its salt bath and coming up to room temperature, you can start the potatoes. Put a few tablespoons of the rendered duck fat into the 10-inch frying pan and melt it. It’ll shimmer and smoke a little when it’s ready for the potatoes. Slice the potatoes into quarter-inch thick slices and toss them in when the fat tells you it’s time.

Here’s what rendered duck fat looks like. This stuff can be tough to find, not expensive, just not easy to get your hands on. I get mine at Persimmon Provisions in Barrington, RI. It’s a great little specialty shop, worth the trip if you want to stock up on some amazing food. I think this was $3 or something.


Toss the potatoes so they’re evenly coated, dust with the smoked paprika, cover the frying pan and reduce the heat to medium high. You’ll want to give them a toss a few times while the steak is cooking so they brown evenly. Dice the rosemary up into very fine pieces and throw it in towards the end of the cooking, which should be around 10-12 minutes.

They’ll look like this if you’re doing it right


While all this is going on you can get the oil hot in the big skillet or saute’ pan. I use olive oil, but anything will do. Just like the duck fat you want it to shimmer and smoke a little just before you lay the meat in. I sear the steak for 3 minutes on each side. No more than that because you’re going to finish it in the oven. After the first side I added the mushrooms and a handful of cherry tomatoes. Why the tomatoes, you ask? I’ll tell you. For one, they add some color, but they also add some moisture that will mix with the mushrooms and be used as a topping for the steak when it’s done. It should look something like this when you’re searing the second side:


When you’re done searing the second side, throw the whole pan in a 400 degree oven for another 5 minutes. DO NOT FORGET ABOUT IT. 5 minutes is enough time to perfectly finish the meat to medium rare, burst the tomatoes, and finish cooking the mushrooms. After 5 minutes pull it out of the oven and remove the steak from the pan so it stops cooking. Let it rest on your cutting board for about 10 minutes. This is key to the experience. While it’s resting, break up the tomatoes and mix them with the mushrooms to form a chunky, super tasty gravy.

If you did it right, your dish should look something like this:


The potatoes are golden with crispy edges and the steak is a perfect medium rare. Ladle the mushroom mixture over the steak and enjoy.

There you have it. Meat and potatoes done right in less than a half hour.



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