It wasn’t until I turned on the ignition leaving work that I finally decided what to make for dinner last night. I found myself in the somewhat unusual situation of being alone in the house. No blaring television, no loud post-work phone calls, just Grace the Cat and me with bottle of wine.
In honor of my good friend Kim Sunee’s birthday, I set out to make one of my favorite bistro meals: hanger steak with shallot sauce, sauteed garlic string beans, and gratin dauphinoise. Simple and elegant are typically what I aim for, and I did not let myself down. On the way home, I stopped at the earthier grocery store and couldn’t find a hanger steak, or even a flank. Instead of opting for its tougher sibling, the skirt steak, I went with a flatiron.
Unpacking the groceries, I poured the last inky, smooth glass of a 2005 Kilikanoon Shiraz. It soothed my nerves while running potatoes through the mandolin, an expedient but moderately terrifying task. Potatoes are one of the perfect fat delivery vehicles, and gratin dauphinoise is such a deliciously simple dish, consisting of thinly sliced potatoes, salt, pepper, cream and freshly ground nutmeg (I added some gruyere cheese, which is not traditional).
Once in the oven, green beans were prepped, blanched and cooled, and the steak was generously patted down with salt and pepper. With 45 minutes left on the timer I did the dishes and listened to an episode of The Dinner Party Download, which kept me very entertained as I finished the glass of shiraz.
The steak sauteed in canola for about 6 minutes while the garlic and string beans finished up on another burner. The decadent red-wine shallot sauce came together during the steak’s resting period and before long the gratin finished up.
Sitting down at the red-clothed table with Grace by my side (she sits at the table on her own stool), I imagined being at a small, loud, crowded cafe in St. Germain-Des-Pres. I only wish I had picked up some oysters, but didn’t linger long on the thought. A glass of bright (brash?) Rioja provided a tart companion to the otherwise decadent meal.
Skip produces The Gourmetro. His family cat, Grace, eats at the table with him nightly. Aging and no longer content eating pet food, she eats canned tuna fish from her own little plate. Check out his published works on Aisle 9, and talk with him on Twitter.