The skeptics are going to have to trust me on this one. Cauliflower? Sounds like some eternally horrible veggie that only weirdos eat with a side of sauerkraut and wienerschnitzel. It looks like albino broccoli. You’ll recognize it as the pitifully abandoned pile sitting on the crudités platter untouched, long after the carrots and celery are devoured. It’s had a tough showing over the years, that’s for sure.
BUT, again, trust me on this one, when roasted and pureed with milk, this stuff can Beat. Mashed. Potatoes. Any. Day. Of. The. Week. There, I said it. I know it’s sacrilege but it’s true. Mashed Cauliflower is ridiculously good… and (I think?) more nutritious than the almighty spud. So, that’s my pitch… take it as you will.
And what better thing to serve with mashed deliciousness than steak? Though Brazilian-born, genetically-flawless Gisele “loves steak” and “eats it every day” (sheesh), us mere mortals should probably not indulge daily. However, red meat, when enjoyed in moderation, is perfectly good for you (I think people associate it with a one-way ticket to heart-attack town thanks to Bill Swerski’s Superfans). In any event, it’s great for a special occasion.
So here goes. Pick up your favorite cut of beef at the store (or butcher, if you’re lucky to live by one!)—I like the filet (duh) but those can cost a pretty penny. A similar looking cut, the eye round, looks great but is much leaner and therefore tougher when cooked. I’m not an expert on beef cuts … try them out and see what you like best!
If you’re entertaining, you can cook the cauliflower and green beans ahead of time so you’re not slaving away in the kitchen when guests arrive. Cut the whole head of cauliflower up into pieces and toss them in a bowl with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. I use the green leaves as well, and only throw away the rock-hard core. Pour this into a roasting pan and allow the cauliflower to cook for 45 minutes in a 350⁰ oven. When a knife slides into a piece easily, they’re done. Puree this in a food processor with milk and some more salt and pepper.
For the green beans, pick off the top stem from each bean. Get a large pot of water on the stove with plenty of salt (it should taste like seawater). When the water is ferociously boiling, throw in a handful of beans. You don’t want the water to stop boiling, so don’t throw in too many beans at once (too many beans will reduce the temperature of the water to below a boil). Do not cover the pot. Boil for about 4 minutes until they are practically cooked through (test one to make sure it’s right). Plunge the cooked batch of beans into ice water to stop the cooking. Repeat until all your beans are done. This process, tagged “Big Pot Blanching” by über-chef Thomas Keller, preserves the bright green color of your vegetable.
So, like I said, all this can be done ahead of time. About a half hour before you want to eat, put your mashed cauliflower in the oven to reheat, and take out your steaks to come up to room temperature. Sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper. When you’re ready, cook your steak. I like to get a cast iron pan hot (not smoking hot, but close), put in a dot of grapeseed or canola oil to coat the pan, and throw in my steak. Let it get a nice, brown sear on one side before you flip it to do the other. Depending on how thick your steak is, and how much you want to cook it, you could put it in the oven at this stage for 5 minutes. Just before allowing it to rest, I like to baste my steak with some butter and thyme. Throw in a cube or two of butter with a sprig of thyme. When it melts and starts to foam, tip the pan and spoon the pooling butter back over your steak for 30 seconds to a minute. This helps finish the steak’s cooking, and adds a power-punch of flavor.
Allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. You can quickly reheat your beans in a pan with some butter (or olive oil), salt, and pepper. And there you have a steak dinner, with (hopefully?) not too much effort!
- One head of cauliflower, cut into pieces and tossed with ½ teaspoon of salt, 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil, and fresh ground pepper
- ½ – ¾ cup of milk (depending on how creamy you want it)
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- Green beans
- Salt, butter (or olive oil), and pepper to taste
- Your choice cut of steak
- Drop of canola oil or grapeseed oil
- Salt and fresh ground pepper
- (if basting: 1 – 1 ½ tablespoons of butter and a spring of thyme)