Delmonico Steaks

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You deserve to have a steak for the running of the Belmont Stakes. It is so “New York”.

First run in 1867, it is the oldest of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, making it the longest continuously run race in North America, predating the Kent9428330.jpgucky Derby by eight years and the Preakness by six years. The Belmont Stakes is held every June at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, just outside of New York City. The race, nicknamed The Test of the Champion and The Run for the Carnations, is the third and final leg of the Triple Crown and is held five weeks after the Kentucky Derby and three weeks after the Preakness Stakes, on a Saturday between June 5 and June 11.

And like most spectator sports, horse racing, at the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown are all about traditions, food and drinks. The Kentucky Derby is famous for it’s Mint Julep and Hot Browns Bibb Salads, while the Preakness Stakes is known for its Maryland Crab Cakes and Black Eyed Susans.

There are so many iconic food associated with New York City. And what comes to mind for me is a nice juicy steak, like the ones served at the legendary Delmonico’s Restaurant. Delmonico’s opened in Manhattan’s financial district in 1837 and it broke new ground in the American dining industry. It was the first establishment to go by the French term, “restaurant,” and the firsts did not end there.

del.jpegDelmonico’s was ahead of its time, allowing female patrons to dine without the accompaniment of a male escort. It was the first restaurant to have a printed menu, offer a separate wine list, use tablecloths and also the first to have diners sit at private tables.

Delmonico steak (or steak Delmonico) was one of several cuts of beef (usually the ribeye), with a thick-cut preparation popularized by Delmonico’s restaurant in New York City during the mid-19th century. A Delmonico steak may now, in the 21st century, refer to various cuts of beef steak, using preparations that vary regionally in the United States. The term “Delmonico steak” might refer to any thick-cut steak. In addition to the steak, the original meal also included a potato dish, known as Delmonico potatoes, prepared by making a mashed potato dish topped with grated cheese and buttered breadcrumbs, then baked until golden brown and served steaming.

With that being said, no other dish, but the Delmonico Steak would be the prefect meal serve to your guest on race day, with the accompaniment of side dishes like Dauphinoise Potatoes and Creamed Spinach or Green Beans .

Serves 6

Ingredients:
Six 20-ounce boneless prime rib-eye steaks, at room temperature
Sea salt, to taste
Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the Herb Butter:
3 fresh bay leaves
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Directions:
For the Herb Butter:
Combine the bay leaves, thyme, and salt in a spice grinder and process until powdery.

Place the butter in a mixing bowl. Add the powdered mixture and, using a hand-held electric mixer, blend well.

Scrape the butter mixture onto the center of a sheet of plastic film. Pull the film up and over the soft butter and, using your hands, form the butter into a roll about 1 3/4 inches in diameter. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week, or wrap in freezer wrap, label, date, and freeze for up to 3 months.When ready to serve, unwrap the herb flavored butter and, using a sharp knife, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices, allowing one slice per steak.

For the Steaks:
Clean, oil, and preheat the grill.Wipe excess moisture from the exterior of the steaks using a paper towel. Season one side with salt and pepper.

Place the steaks on the hot grill, seasoned side down. Grill for 3 minutes. Season the top side and, using tongs, turn the steaks and grill for 3 minutes to just sear the exterior.

Remove the steaks from the grill and, using a pastry brush, lightly coat both sides of each steak with olive oil.

Return the steaks to the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until the exterior is nicely charred and the interior has reached the desired degree of doneness on an instant-read thermometer.

Remove from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes before serving with a generous pat of Herb Butter.

Cook’s Notes:
Alternatively, you can also cook the steaks by pan searing.Sprinkle each steak with the pepper and salt; then rub each steak with a small amount of olive oil.

Pre-heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat; then place each steak in the skillet. Uncovered, sear on one side of the steak for 5 minutes then turn the steak over and sear the other side for 3 minutes.Reduce the heat and cook for an additional 8 to 10 minutes or until the internal temperature is 145 º F for medium doneness.

Serve each steak topped with slice of the chilled herb butter.

– – IMPORTANT FOOD SAFETY REMINDER – –

It is recommend to use an instant-read thermometer to check the doneness. Rare steak will have an internal temperature of 120 º to 125 ºF; medium-rare to medium should read 130 º to 150 º F. This should take somewhere near twenty minutes, depending upon the thickness of the meat and the heat. Above 150 º F, a steak is considered well-done, which is not a desirable temperature for a really good steak! A steak should sit for five minutes or so before cutting, so remember that it will continue to cook as it sits when you gauge the internal temperature.

Cooking temperatures and times and may vary for your oven, broiler stove top or grill.

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Chalupas Poblanas


Photo Credit: Rebecca Smith Hurd.

Chalupas, an iconic street food of Puebla, are so popular that you will find them served at the top restaurants. They have a resemblance to tostadas and are the perfect antojito for any Cinco de Mayo celebration. To put it simply, chalupas are fried thick tortillas topped with salsa, shredded meat, chopped onion and sometimes queso fresco.

There are two versions on the culinary origins of chalupas. The first is that it gets its name from baskets.

According to “All About Puebla”,Ch alupas date back to the Colonial era, when Spanish settlers spent a good part of their days washing clothes by the Almoloya (San Francisco) River. It’s said that the women carried everything to the river in big baskets made of wood called chalupas, after which they’d rush home and quickly fry up corn tortillas in lard, top them with salsa, shredded beef or pork, and chopped onion – and call it dinner.

The second is that they are named after the Aztec boats (chalupas) used in the ancient city of Tenochtitlan.

Named for the canoe-like boats that the Aztecs used to navigate the canals of their ancient capitol Tenochtitlan, now Mexico City, chalupas are one of the most popular snacks in Central Mexico. They are a specialty of the city of Puebla, where they are served everywhere from street stands to elegant restaurants. They are smaller than those found in other regions, and the silver dollar size chalupas sold in the San Francisco plaza are famous throughout the country.

Chalupas are an excellent way to use leftover roast meat or chicken, but can also be served with no meat at all. Although many people prefer to cook without lard, chalupas just do not taste the same without it. Corn oil may be substituted, but don’t expect the authentic, succulent flavor of chalupas fried in manteca.

Makes 24, Serves 6

Ingredients:
1/2 cup manteca (pork lard) or corn oil
24 3 inch-diameter tortillas
3/4-1 cup salsa verde
3/4-1 cup salsa roja
1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded beef, pork or chicken
1 1/2 cups queso fresco or mild feta cheese
1 medium white onion, peeled and finely chopped

Directions:
In a large, deep frying pan, heat the oil or lard until a few drops of water sprinkled into the pan bounce and sizzle.

Place tortillas, as many as will fit, into the pan and soft-fry them, just 3-4 seconds on each side. They should remain pliable and not crispy. Drain them well on paper towels as they are removed from the pan.

Spoon salsa verde, about 1 tablespoon per chalupa, over half of them, and salsa roja over the other half. Top each with a bit of shredded meat, crumbled cheese and onion.

Serve Immediately.


Chiles en nogada

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Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day; it celebrates the Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War, which came after Mexico’s independence from Spain, the Mexican-American War and the Mexican Civil War. In our neighbor to the south, the holiday is mainly celebrated in the region of Puebla, and mostly in the state’s capital city of the same name.

Cinco de Mayo, as celebrated in the United States, shares some similarities to St. Patrick’s Day: a mainstream marketing gimmick that evolved out of an authentic celebration of cultural heritage. The typical Cinco de Mayo is a day of eating tacos and drinking margaritas. But, just like you won’t find corned beef and green beer in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, you won’t find ground beef tacos, nachos and frozen margaritas in Mexico on Cinco de Mayo.

Before Spanish explorers and immigrants swarmed Mexico, Puebla was already a culinary capital. The sacred town of Cholula known for its great pre-Colombian pyramid was also home to pre-Columbian street food. In this ancient city, vendors would set up outside the pyramid to feed those who came to worship.

After arriving in Puebla, the Spanish settled close to Cholula and created what is known today as the city of Puebla. Religion was a major aspect of Spanish conquest and convents and monasteries were set up across the city. Spanish nuns invented many of Puebla and Mexico’s most cherished dishes in these convents by integrating old world traditions with new world ingredients.

An authentic dish that can be served is Chiles en nogada, an iconic dish of Mexico. It is said to have been invented in the convent of Santa Monica for Agustin de Iturbide‘s visit to Puebla in 1821. Agustín de Iturbide was Mexico’s first emperor after Mexico won independence from Spain. He was served chiles en nogada in Puebla while traveling back to Mexico City from Veracruz after signing the Treaty of Cordoba, which gave Mexico its independence.

The dish signifies Mexico’s independence and is made up of the colors of the Mexican flag; red, white and green. The flavors are just as colorful as the ingredients. The sweet, savory, picadillo stuffed poblano pepper dipped in egg batter, fried, and topped with a rich walnut sauce, pomegranate seeds and parsley is something you will not regret. Though it is more traditionally made for Mexico’s Independence Day,, rather than Cinco de Mayo,  it is one of Puebla’s most cherished dishes.

In making this dish, it is  highly recommend  to roast the pork the night before you want to make the dish. You might also want to chop all the fruit so the picadillo is quick and easy to assemble. Also note that the walnuts should be soaked in milk overnight.

Makes 12 chiles

Ingredients
12 poblano chiles

For the Picadillo:
2 pounds boneless pork butt
1 tablespoon lard
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon all-spice
2 small white onions chopped
3 tomatoes
1 green apple
1 ripe yellow plantain
2 firm yellow peaches
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup Jerez Sherry Fino
zest of one lemon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

 

For the Nogada Sauce:
1 cup milk
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup queso fresco
2 tablespoons Jerez Sherry Fino

 

For the Capeado (optional):
10 eggs, separated
1/4 cup flour

Pomegranate nibs, for garnish

Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

 

Directions:

For Chiles and Picadillo: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place 1 tablespoon lard in a oven-proof skillet, and heat on medium-high until rippling. Add the cinnamon, cloves and all-spice, toasting for 1 minute. Add the pork roast and sear on all sides until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Add 2 cups water and one white onion chopped and simmer for 5 minutes. Put into the preheated oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let rest for 30 minutes. Cut pork into a quarter-inch dice. Set aside.

Meanwhile, chop all the apple, peaches and plantain into a quarter-inch dice. Soak the golden raisins in the sherry. Set aside.

 

Roast the poblano chiles on an open flame or under the broiler until blistered and blackened — 3 minutes per side if over a flame, 5 minutes per side if under a broiler. Tightly wrap the chiles in a clean dry towel and let them “sweat” for 15 minutes. When chiles are cool enough to handle, gently remove blistered skin. Cut a slit in the side of the chile and carefully remove seeds.

 

Roast the tomatoes on a cast-iron comal or under the broiler until blishered and blackened and so flesh yields to touch. Peel off the skin, core and puree in a blender. Set aside.

 

In a large skillet, on medium-high heat melt butter. Add the chopped pork. Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the remaining onion. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 3 more minutes. Add the chopped apple, peaches, plantains, lemon zest and raisins and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Finally add the tomato puree, salt to taste and simmer on low for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings.

 

Photo credit: Apartment Therapy

 

Stuff each chile with about 1/4 cup picadillo filling, so the chiles are full but not bursting at the seams.

To make the Sauce: Soak the walnuts in the milk overnight. Place the walnuts, milk, sherry, queso fresco, salt and sugar in a blender and process until a smooth, slightly thick sauce forms. If you prefer a thin sauce add more milk.

(Optional) Capear/Lamprear: Let eggs come to room temperature. Meanwhile, lightly coat each stuffed chile with flour. Separate yolks and whites. In a clean bowl or blender beat egg whites until very fluffy. Gently fold the yolk into the whites. Heat a pan with 1/4 cup vegetable oil or lard until rippling. Dip each floured chile in to the batter and place in hot oil, cook on each side until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Drain on paper towels. (See: How to Lamprear video by Zarela.)

 

Garnish and Serve: Place the chiles on a platter and pour the nogada suace over them. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and parsley for garnish.