I’m not quite sure I understand the notion of “Man Up.”
Yesterday when I was chatting with one of my servers in the restaurant, I was telling her of the laundry list of to-dos that I had in front of me. First was to finish writing this article, next I have to complete and execute the menu for Sunday night’s Affair, all while prepping and getting ready for a long stretch of hours spent in the kitchen that I am currently working in.
“Stop whining and Man Up!” was her response.
“Man Up?” I thought to myself. “Man Up?” What does that mean?
Does this mean knock back a few Bud heavies? I haven’t had a beer in over six months. I drink wine. Red wine. I drink gin and tonics.
Does it mean to watch SportsCenter highlights on loop for four straight hours? Join a fantasy football league? I hardly ever watch television and haven’t been in a fantasy football league in three years. When I was in a league, I sucked! Don’t get me wrong, I love football, but I prefer college football and there isn’t a fantasy league for that. I’m a Hawkeye! I’m alum of the University of Iowa and any knife cut that I endure presents blood in the shade of old gold and black!
When I asked her what she meant she responded,
“Look at you. You write. You write about food—pretty food consisting of small and delicate portions. You don’t go to the gym to pick up chicks, you actually go to workout. You don’t follow Jersey Shore, but you could name the previous week’s guests on the Colbert Report. You read national newspapers everyday for more than the sports section. You read about politics, food, wine, travel and music. You know more about what food trucks are in the city than you do about whom the Cubs are playing.”
”The Cubs are 18 games out. Why should I care? Even I know that!” I said.
“You never eat fried foods and you enjoy eating vegetables. You do your own laundry. You iron your own shirts. AND you cook!”
“Whoa! Slow down sister! Just because I cook, and cook damn well, doesn’t mean that I’m manning down!” I replied.
“When was the last time you did a recipe with steak and potatoes?” she replied.
Ok, maybe you’ve got a point? I thought. I generally avoid carbs unless it’s fruit and I usually stick to lean proteins or seafood.
“Fine,” I said, “I’ll give you a recipe consisting of red meat and potatoes, but if you think that the process of preparing this dish is in any way not manning up, you’re sorely mistaken!”
Do you want to know what it’s like to cook in a professional kitchen? It goes a little something like this!
Ready to go chef? Ready to see me Man Up? Ok let’s do this, but first things first, the setting is wrong. Turn your air conditioner off and jack your heater up to full blast. “Shut it!” I know it’s August but it’s not hot enough. I need the kitchen temperature well over 100 degrees. I also need a stockpot of boiling water to add the proper amount of moist heat combining with dry heat. This yin yang is crucial to achieve that perfect level of oppressive heat that I deal with everyday in my kitchen.
Next, heat up an ounce of vegetable oil to about 350-degrees and splash it all over your forearms. I generally prefer the carefree Jackson Pollock style randomness of burn spots that decorate my forearms than expensive tattoos.
I’m not going to ask you to lop a fingertip off, race it to a nearby sink, dunk it in lime juice, bandage it up, cover it with a Smurf blue colored finger cot and cover that with a powdered latex glove, all without missing a single ticket when the dinner rush is coming in. But I want you to know that the threat is always there! Sleep well on that one!
Lastly, take my iPod and crank it! I think Jay-Z featuring Linkin Park will get your adrenaline rush at its highest peak! Usually works for me.
Now, assemble your components for today’s dish.
Pasilla chile crusted Ribeye, roasted on Boursin cheese braised spinach and portabella mushrooms finished with a Beurre Rouge sauce and frites.
First, the Pasilla chile crusted ribeye
- 16 oz Ribeye
- 2 dried Pasilla chiles (toasted, which means place on a sheet pan for 15 minutes in a 300-degree oven. Remove from the oven and when the chile has cooled, break into smaller pieces so it fits in your spice grinder and fire away. I need a nice Pasilla chile dust, so let it fly!
- Salt and pepper
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- ½ bunch of cilantro, rough chop
- 2 oz of olive oil
Combine this mixture in a small mixing bowl. Spread the rub all over your ribeye (Giggling!) and place in the fridge for 24 hours. Remove the ribeye from the fridge about an hour ahead of time to allow it to come to room temperature. Settle down, you’re not going to make anyone ill and unless you’ve invited the Health Department over for dinner you have nothing to worry about!
Next, Braised Spinach with Boursin cheese and Portabella mushrooms
- 1 bunch of spinach greens, stems removed
- 3 oz crumbled Boursin cheese, room temperature
- 1 portabella mushroom cap thinly slices, stem removed
- 1 shallot, minced
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- ½ cup of water or veal stock
Lastly, Beurre Rouge Sauce
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1½ Cup red wine
- 1 knob of Veal demi-glace (Veal demi is heavily reduced veal stock. Maybe sometime I’ll go through the techniques of making stocks and reductions. It’s a long discussion and we’re gonna need a few bottles of wine.) If you don’t have veal demi, try a tablespoon of A-1. It’s not nearly the same but I’m demanding a meaty punch of flavor here.
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard- Use the good stuff.
- 1 tsp of tomato paste
- 2 knobs of butter
This is going to go quick so pay attention. Woman Up, here! (Men generally don’t follow instructions but I’ve found that women generally do. Sorry for the stereotype but I find it’s a safe bet!)
First, in a hot sauté pan on medium high heat with a touch of olive oil, add a knob of butter. When the butter stops sizzling, gently lay in your gorgeous ribeye. After about three minutes on each side, you will have created a nice Pasilla chile crust. Transfer the ribeye to a sheet pan in a 400-degree oven and remove the sauté pan from the heat and set aside. Don’t wash it yet! We’re not through with it. There’s a lot of flavor sitting at the bottom of that sauté pan and we need it! Very important!
While the ribeye is roasting in the oven, it’s time to start the next component. You must work fast here. If you waste time in this process you will allow that steak to overcook and you will ruin that perfect medium rare finish that we’re looking for. The steak has to be mooing when you slice it. Man Up, right?
In a clean sauté pan, on medium high heat add in another knob of butter. When the butter has melted, add the minced shallot and garlic. When the garlic has turned a gentle caramel color add the sliced portabella mushrooms and veal stock or water, whichever you have chosen. When the mushrooms have softened a bit, add the spinach, reduce the heat to medium and allow the spinach to wilt. When the spinach has turned a bright green color, remove from the heat and add in the crumbled Boursin cheese. Season with salt and pepper and toss the spinach mixture until the cheese has become incorporated. The carry over heat from the braised spinach and mushrooms will easily melt the crumbled Boursin cheese if you have allowed the cheese to come to room temperature.
After about eight minutes in the oven, remove the ribeye and set on a clean plate.
Next step, the Beurre Rouge Sauce.
Return the original, seasoned sauté pan to the heat and add in a touch of butter. Man Up, right? (Oh c’mon, that’s what the gym is for. A little extra time on the treadmill will be worth this masterpiece!)
When the butter has melted, add in the garlic and shallot. When the garlic has, once again, turned a caramel color, add in the tomato paste, the Dijon mustard, and the veal demi glace. Sauté the contents of the pan until the tomato paste has turned a dark red color. Now, remove the sauté pan from the heat and swill in the red wine.
If you prefer singed eyebrows be my guest and add the wine while on the stove! You’re call here, but be careful! The red wine will deglaze the bottom of the sauté pan of all the fond that was created in the initial searing process. Using a wooden spoon or whisk, dislodge all the fond from the bottom of the sauté pan. Scrape, scrape, scrape. When the bottom of the pan has become clean from the deglazing process, allow the wine to reduce by half.
Next, remove the sauté pan from the heat and whisk in the last two knobs of butter. Very important that you do this off the heat! If the wine mixture is still on high heat, the butter will not incorporate or emulsify. We’re looking for a smooth velvety finish!
Lastly, add the juices from the plate that the ribeye is impatiently waiting on. There’s much flavor in those juices and your Beurre Rouge Sauce will certainly be the benefactor!
Pile your frites in one corner of your finest, and I mean finest white square platter. Next, place the Boursin cheese braised spinach and portabella mushroom mix at the foot of the monumental tower of frites. Gently slice a few strips of the ribeye to showoff your beautifully executed medium rare chunk of cow and ever so gently, lay them on the pillow of braised spinach. Lastly, apply a few spoonfuls of your Beurre Rouge sauce and enjoy.
By the way, this cooking process should take about 15 minutes. Things happen fast in a professional kitchen and you better keep up because the window is filling fast with tickets. On a normal night, you will have to do this process nearly 50 times in a three-hour window along with many other time consuming tasks so time is of the essence. Think you can handle it? It’s hot in here isn’t it? Well Man Up because the guests are hungry and impatient!