Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Instagramming in the Kitchen: Balsamic Skirt Steak with Polenta and Roasted Tomatoes

One of the apps I am most frequently using on my iPhone is Instagram.  I love it.  I love how flattering the filters can be on people's skin tones, I love the vintage look it gives pictures, and I love the idea of using an art form (photography) as a key part of social media.  I think it brings people together in a way that is happier and warmer than simple Facebook statuses.

I find myself using it a lot to photograph my projects around the house and this extends to my cooking in addition to DIY projects.  I love food and trying new recipes and have decided to share that love through this blog in a new series called "Instagramming in the Kitchen". 

The first recipe I want to share is from Martha Stewart, originally posted on her website here: Balsamic Skirt Steak with Polenta and Roasted Tomatoes. The recipe was originally published in 2008 in the Everyday Food blog, hosted by her main site.  It's so incredibly easy, but it looks so impressive.  It's a great working night dish.

Balsamic Skirt Steak with Polenta and Roasted Tomatoes

  • 2 pints grape tomatoes (I have used grape tomatoes and roma tomatoes at different ties when making this.  Any type of tomato will work, but the grape tomatoes do add extra sweetness.) 
  • 6 scallions, white and green parts separated and cut into 1-inch pieces (I have used scallions, shallots, and yellow onions.  Shallots were my absolute favorite with this dish)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 1 1/2 pounds skirt steak (cut into 2 or more pieces, if necessary, to fit in skillet) (I tend to buy steak as it is on sale, so I have used skirt, strip, and flank steak, all with a good result.)
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar

Roasted Tomatoes
First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees for roasting the tomatoes.   *Note: At this point, I also begin boiling water for the polenta (see below).  In a large baking pan, toss the tomatoes with scallion whites   and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Put the pan of tomatoes in the oven and roast for 12-15 minutes or until the tomatoes have split skins.  Upon removing these from the oven, add scallion greens.

Bring four cups of water to a boil in a large pot.  Once it is boiling, add 1 teaspoon of salt to the water and slowly pour the cornmeal in while whisking.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking frequently for 10 minutes or until the polenta is thick.  A grainy texture will still be present, but the polenta should be soft.

Drop 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over a high heat.  I usually give it about two minutes to fully warm up and swirl the pan several times to coat it.  Season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper (I prefer to use salt and pepper from my grinders for this portion rather than table salt or pre-ground black pepper).  Add the steak to the skillet and cook, turning only once, until the steak is medium rare.  It is crucial that you only turn the steak once.  The more you touch and squeeze meat with tongs or a fork, the more juiciness you push out of the meat.  After both sides have been cooked (the whole process usually takes about six minutes for me, but our stove top runs hot and I prefer a rarer steak) transfer the steak to a plate and cover it loosely with foil.  Let the steak rest for at least five minutes.  Add vinegar to the skillet and boil on high heat until it has reduced to a 1/2 cup.  This takes about 7 minutes and during this time, I usually shut the kitchen door, as the smell created by the boiling vinegar lingers for a long time.  Turn off the heat and add in any juices from the resting steak to the vinegar. 

Fill a bowl with 3/4 cup of polenta and top with slices of the steak and the roasted tomatoes.  Drizzle several tablespoons over the polenta.  Sprinkle Parmesan over the mixture to taste and serve.

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