I just finished eating a great new dinner, and I'm going to share the recipe with you.
Both my wife and I never particularly liked polenta. But recently, we've
had it in a couple of outstanding Italian restaurants, and realized that polenta could be wonderful. What made the difference were two things: first, coarse-ground polenta. If you use fine-ground cornmeal for the polenta, it comes out very smooth and creamy. A lot of people like it that way. I don't. Second, keeping it soft. Polenta, because of the starch, can become very gluey. It needs to be cooked with enough liquid and enough fat to keep it light.
So after discovering that we liked it, I went out and bought some good stone-ground coarse polenta to experiment with. I knew from the places where I'd like the polenta that it goes really well with strong-flavored meats. So I decided to make a flank steak. Since I absolutely adore mushrooms with steak, I wanted to find a way to get mushroom flavor into the polenta, so I went with a nice duxelles.
The result was absolutely phenomenal: one of the best meals I've made in the last several months.
- 2 lbs flank steak.
- For the marinade:
- 2 cloves minced garlic.
- 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard.
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- For the duxelles:
- 1 pound mushrooms, minced.
- 2 olive oil
- 2 shallots, minced.
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup red wine
- For the polenta:
- 1 1/2 cups coarse polenta
- 5 1/2 cups chicken stock.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.
- The sauce:
- Drippings from the steak.
- 3 tablespoons butter.
- 1 minced shallot
- 1/2 cup port wine
- 1/2 cup chicken stock.
- Marinate the steak. Mix together all of the marinade ingredients, and coat the steak with the marinade. Let it set for a couple of hours.
- Make the duxelle for the polenta. Put a pan on high heat, and melt the butter. When it's melted, add the shallots and the mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. After the mushrooms start to shed some of their liquid, add the thyme. Keep stirring. If the pan starts to get dry, add some of the red wine. Keep cooking, stirring all the time, until you run out of wine. By that time, the mushrooms should have lost a lot of their volume, and turned a deep caramel brown. Remove it from the heat, and set aside.
- Start the polenta. Bring 4 1/2 cups of the chicken stock to a boil. Stir in the polenta and the salt. Reduce the heat to medium, and stir until it starts to thicken. Add in the duxelle, and reduce the heat a bit more, to medium-low. Now the polenta just sits and cooks. You want it to go for about 45 minutes at a minimum. But as long as you keep it moist, polenta just keeps getting better as it cooks, so don't worry about it. Add some stock whenever it gets too dry, and stir it every few minutes.
- Preheat your oven t 350.
- Heat a cast iron pan on high heat. When it's good and hot, sear the steak, about 3 minutes on each side. Then transfer it to a baking sheet, and put it in the oven for 10 minutes. At the end of the ten minutes, remove it, and transfer it to a cutting board, to rest for about ten minutes.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a saucepan. Add in the shallots, and cook until they turn translucent. Add in whatever drippings are left on the baking sheet, and the port wine, and reduce nearly all of the liquid away. Then add the chicken stock. When it boils, add in salt to taste, and then remove from the heat. Add in the remaining butter and stir until it melts.
- While the steak is resting, add the butter and cheese to the polenta, and stir it in.
- Slice the steak against the grain.
- On each plate, put a nice mound of polenta, and a helping of the steak. Then drizzle the sauce over the steak, and a little bit of extra virgin olive oil over the polenta.