Weeknight Dinner Party? Start with Brown Butter-Basted Steak

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Every Monday night, Bon Appétit editor in chief Adam Rapoport gives us a peek inside his brain by taking over our newsletter. He shares recipes he’s been cooking, restaurants he’s been eating at, and more. It gets better: If you sign up for our newsletter, you’ll get this letter before everyone else.

I got an email from my wife last week, announcing that Lauren and Amiel were coming over for dinner on Tuesday night and that, you know, we’d figure it out.

The thing about weeknight entertaining is that it’s like taking a job on a tight budget—you’ve got to think about labor, timing, and how you’re going to get it all done.

In this instance, my mind went immediately to our freezer, where there was a ginormous, dry-aged rib eye I had gotten from our friends at Belcampo Meat Co. Easily enough for four people.

Steak, pork chops, lamb chops—quality protein really doesn’t need much more than salt, pepper, and heat, which makes it ideal for a dinner party on the fly.

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I pan roasted the rib eye, giving it a nice, patient sear on all sides. And then, right before it reached medium rare on an instant-read thermometer, I did that restaurant thing where you throw in a few knobs of butter, some smashed garlic cloves and herbs, and baste the steak with the frothy, fragrant butter before letting it rest on a cutting board.

BA Carla Makes Perfect Steak GIF 1

Steak, butter, done.

I could’ve done without a starch (honestly!), but in our email thread, Simone lobbied hard for risotto—which, I just might have shot down a bit abruptly.

It’s not that I don’t love risotto. But when you’re busy tending to a steak on a stove top, do you want to simultaneously be standing and stirring a pot of rice and feeding it stock for exactly 21 minutes till it’s creamy but still al dente?

Not really. Remember, weeknight entertaining should be manageable and not too time consuming.

So instead of firing up another burner, Amiel turned on the oven and got to work, riffing on his Basically roasted potatoes. So crispy, so fluffy, so good. And, yes, guess who at the table ate the most of them, by far? #guilty

perfectly roasted potatoes

Ben Dewey

First you boil them, then you roast them.

Finally, a big salad. One that I like to call “bracing,” a word that my colleagues make fun of me for using way too much. But when you’ve got a lush, rich steak, and a bowl of crispy, salty potatoes, don’t you just crave something…bracing for balance?

So Lauren pulled one together, teeming with peak-season citrus and the kind of hearty greens you can find in February—something like this or this.

chicory salad with honey mustard vinaigrette

Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott

Salad, for balance and for health.

Oh, and Amiel brought a magnum of easy-to-drink Beaujolais.

By the end of the night, we realized that everyone had chipped in. Nothing was too complicated, but it was all delicious.

And finally, just as we were wrapping things up at a respectable hour, Lauren and Simone announced that the risotto dream would not die. That they would plan a risotto-exclusive dinner party on an upcoming Tuesday night. I’ll be eagerly awaiting the email.

Get the recipes:

Brown Butter–Basted Steak
Perfectly Roasted Potatoes
Radicchio and Citrus Salad with Burrata
Chicory Salad with Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette

P.S. Speaking of weeknight entertaining, Alex Beggs is looking for your etiquette questions about Valentine’s Day cooking or dining. Want to know if it’s okay to cook your date a dish with 40 garlic cloves? The best dessert to hide an engagement ring in? An impressive date-night recipe? Send all your questions to staff.bonappetit@gmail.com.

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Steak and Eggs with Saucy Beans Are What’s For Dinner

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Serious question: Is there any meal better than breakfast for dinner? If you answered yes then I’m sorry but you are wrong. Very wrong. But don’t take it too hard. We all make mistakes. What I have for you here is salvation of sorts. What I have for you here is Steak and Eggs with Saucy Beans.

See, I’m one of those people. The ones who struggle with mornings. I hit snooze twelve times, wake in a panic, throw on whatever sweater I find on the ground, chug a scalding coffee, then sprint out the door as the last train getting me to work on time pulls out of the station. I never have time to eat breakfast. And that makes me very sad. But you know what cheers me up? Yes, you do. Having breakfast for dinner.

Packed full o’ protein and heavy on the flavor, this particular breakfast for dinner is an excellent example of the form. It’s also a serious upgrade on the typical greasy laminated placemat iteration of steak-n-eggs, she of the tough under-seasoned meat and gelatinous scrambies. And making it is so easy that I might even consider waking up a little earli—lol jk. It’s dinner. Let’s talk strategy.

First, you grab a couple of fine New York strip steaks and rub ‘em all over with a fiery blend of hot smoked paprika, Aleppo-style pepper, salt, and black pepper. This is the perfect cheat-rub for making quick pan-seared steak taste like it spent quality time on a grill when it’s too cold to grill outside. Let it sit and soak while you focus on those saucy, saucy beans.

This part is simple: Sauté some shallots, garlic, and fresh cilantro stems (yes, they’re edible and you should never waste them!) until soft. Then add a can of pinto beans. On that subject, here’s some potentially unexpected advice from the Test Kitchen: For the best flavor, skip the “no salt added” beans and opt for a classic pre-seasoned brand like Goya. The beans pick up more flavor the first time they’re cooked (yes, in the factory) and it’s hard to get them to Ideal Saltiness Level once that opportunity’s been passed up. That said, definitely drain and rinse your beans—ain’t nobody got time for that mucous-y, preservative-filled can gloop.

Next, add butter and water (to make up for the missing can gloop—you still need liquid), and let those beans simmer ‘til incorporated and saucy. Then remove them from the heat and stir in the leaves from those cilantro stems you didn’t waste. Sprinkle them with a bit of lime zest and half a lime’s worth of juice. Done. Cover them so they don’t get cold.

Now: Steak, which gets cooked on a skillet (definitely opt for cast iron if you have it) for three minutes on each side. Here’s where things get craaaa-zy: Add a couple of halved limes to your skillet. Yeah. We went there. See, charring citrus is a great way to transform its sharp acidity into something more mellow and sweet. The cooking oil in the pan will suck those flavors right up into the meat, which will then get a double dose once you squeeze those sweet limey juices all over it after plating.

Then come the eggs: Cooked sunny side up in the same skillet until their edges get lacy and brown and perfect. And that is it, folks! Spread the steak on a pretty slab of wood with the cut limes artfully scattered about, and slide an egg atop your plate. And suddenly, you’ll realize something. All those sanctimonious early birds? They can keep their slimy worms. We’ve got steak. And eggs. And the sauciest beans in town.

Get the recipe:

steak-and-eggs-with-saucy-beans.jpg

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Pan-Roasted Steak with Crispy Broccoli Recipe

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Season steaks generously all over with salt and pepper, pressing to adhere. Heat a dry large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high. Swirl vegetable oil in pan to coat. Pat steaks dry; cook 2 steaks, undisturbed, until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes. Turn; cook until other sides are browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 130° for medium-rare, about 5 minutes. Turn steaks onto fat cap and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes. Wipe out skillet, leaving just enough fat to coat pan. Repeat with remaining steak.

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The Reverse-Sear Chuck Steak Is the Biggest, Cheapest, and Most Foolproof Steak You’ll Ever Cook

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Basically editor Amiel Stanek spends all day every day trying to help readers get dinner on the table as quick and efficiently as possible. So when he gets to cook at home, he likes to slow things down and be a little…extra. Welcome to Not So Fast, a column about what he’s cooking.

You know what I love? Steak. And you know what else I love? Cooking a big, thick steak for a bunch of my friends, not spending that much money on it, and doing it in such a way that practically guarantees that it turns out a perfect wall-to-wall medium-rare—all without sweating and stressing over the stove. Cool, right?

But, Amiel, you might be thinking to yourself, Steak is expensive! Like, payday-on-my-birthday expensive! And I get hives just thinking about trying to get that internal temperature to sweet perfection!

Well, friend, that’s because you’ve never met the reverse-sear chuck steak. But I’m going to introduce you.

This miracle of a non-recipe relies on two foundational ideas. The first is that, contrary to popular belief, anything can be a steak if you cook it like one. While the cuts of beef in the butcher’s case that are actually labeled “STEAK” tend to be pretty expensive, there are plenty of others that, while traditionally used for braising or slow-roasting, are actually delicious when cooked to a juicy medium-rare and sliced thinly. In this case, we’re talking about chuck roast, a big, honkin‘ chunk of meat that’s usually long-simmered for pot roast. Chuck roasts usually clock in at around two and a half pounds, which is more than enough to feed six hungry people. While it definitely has more chew than, say, filet mignon, it more than makes up for in affordability and beefy flavor.

The second is that the conventional approach to cooking a thick steak (blasting it with high heat to form a beautifully-burnished crust, and then reducing the heat to allow the internal temp to come up more gradually) is tricky, inefficient, and pretty intimidating for all but the most seasoned cooks—and that a practically foolproof alternative exists. That method is called the “reverse-sear,” and while I certainly didn’t invent it, I am pretty obsessed with it. As you may have guessed, it involves flipping the usual method on its head.

You start by cooking a big piece of meat very gently in a low oven until the entire thing is almost at your desired internal temperature, and then searing it in a screaming-hot pan just before serving to get the external browning you’re after. The best part? You can do stage one well before any of your guests show up and then, come showtime, disappear into the kitchen, move on to stage two, and emerge five minutes later with a giant platter of perfectly cooked meat. It isn’t the fastest way to cook a steak—you’re going to want at least a two hour runway before dinner time for a piece of meat this large—but it is prooooobably the best. Here’s how it’s done.

First things first: There are a few tools that are non-negotiable here. A sheet pan. A wire rack of some sort that fits into said sheet pan, which keeps air circulating around the whole steak. A decent instant-read thermometer.

Take your 2½-lb. chuck roast out of the fridge and unwrap it. Look at that Big Boy! Handsome Boy! So beefy and bold and streaked with fat! Using a meat mallet or an empty bottle of wine, give it a few good thwacks so that it loosens up a bit and is a nice, even two inches thick. Now, give Handsome Boy a literal shower of kosher salt—each and every side, way more than seems reasonable or humane. (It’s a big piece of meat and can take it!) Preheat the oven to 225°F, place the meat on a wire rack set into a sheet pan, and let it sit out at room temperature for a half hour to an hour. [Room-temperature meat will always cook more evenly than fridge-cold.(https://www.bonappetit.com/story/room-temperature-meat-tempering))

reverse sear steak

Photo by Chelsie Craig

Handsome Boy! Beautiful Boy!

When you’re ready to cook, use paper towels to dry the meat off as thoroughly as humanly possible. Pop the whole steak-rack-pan situation into the oven. Keep the steak in the oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads between 115°F and 120°F. This actually takes quite a bit of time—usually about an hour and 10 minutes total for me—but I start checking every 10-15 minutes after the first 45 or so. It’ll look preeeetty weird, kinda grey and funky and maybe not that appetizing, but this is just stage one! Once you’ve reached the desired temperature, you can let the steak kick it at room temperature for up to two hours before moving on to stage two—and that’s plenty of time to take a shower, prep the other dishes that you’re serving, whatever. (But you can also sear it as soon as it comes out of the oven if you want!)

Once it’s go time, put a big skillet (cast-iron is ideal) on the stove, crank the heat, and really let that thing get crazy hot. The cool thing about this method is that the exterior of your steak has lost a lot of moisture during stage one, jump starting the browning process; you’ll get the deeply caramelized color you’re after in as little as a minute per side. Drizzle a bit of neutral oil over the steak, and rub it all over so that it’s coated. (Less oil in the pan, less smoke in your kitchen.) Transfer the steak to that now-hot pan, and sear it on each side for about one minute, or until all sides are crusty and gorgeous. (You could also toss a knob of butter and some herbs in at this point and do a quick bastey-baste, but that’s totally optional.) When it’s finished, transfer the steak to a cutting board, because it’s slicing time!

reverse sear steak 1

Photo by Chelsie Craig

That’s the stuff: Wall-to-wall rosy pink, with as little grey as possible.

Another wild thing about this method? You don’t even need to rest the steak before cutting into it—how cool is that?? Grab a sharp knife and slice the meat as thinly as possible, discarding any big chewy chunks of fat or gristle (there will be some). Unlike some other steak-steaks, the chuck roast is comprised of a few different muscles, so you may need to change your knife angle as you go, and don’t be afraid to get handsy with it. Pile all of that rosy-red meat on a big platter, hit it with some flaky salt, some freshly cracked pepper, and maybe a drizzle of grassy olive oil if you’re feeling fancy.

And there you have it folks: the reverse-seared chuck steak in all its glory. Go forth and eat more steak.

Once you’ve got the reverse-sear bug, check this recipe out:

reverse-sear-rib-eye-roast-with-fennel-and-rosemary

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Are steak and cheese healthy? Doctors group says Canada’s Food Guide is wrong on diet

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Pushing aside a makeshift podium in the modest hospital at CFB Trenton, Dr. Barbra Allen Bradshaw says she told a crowd of army nurses, doctors and dietitians that “Canada’s Food Guide is making you sick.”

Eating a diet high in carbs and low in fat, like the nation’s food experts suggest, isn’t the way to a healthy heart or physique, she said. “It’s bad advice.”

Allen Bradshaw, a pathologist from Abbotsford, B.C., is part of a group of doctors from across the country who have been on a crusade to change the way Canadians are told to eat.

For the past two years, she and her colleague Dr. Carol Loffelmann, an anesthesiologist in Toronto, have spent much of their free time travelling the country, urging colleagues and regular Canadians alike to eat fewer carbohydrates than what’s recommended by the government and indulge in fat from sources such as steak and cheese — even if that flies in the face of conventional wisdom.

It’s all they can do as they wait to see whether Health Canada will heed the message from their grassroots campaign.

Since 2016, the women, who founded Canadian Clinicians for Therapeutic Nutrition, a national non-profit, have lobbied the government, with letters, an Ottawa meeting and a parliamentary petition signed by nearly 5,000 Canadians, to reconsider the diet advice they believe Health Canada plans to deliver in the next iteration of the Food Guide, which is due out in early 2019, according to a Health Canada spokesperson.

Allen Bradshaw and Loffelmann, who works at St. Michael’s Hospital, say some of the new recommendations may not be based on the most current, relevant scientific evidence and could continue to make Canadians overweight, reliant on medication and suffer from diabetes, fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome.

In an email to the Star, Health Canada said that as the new advice is finalized, it is also updating its evidence base with the latest nutrition science and that too will be released to the public in early 2019.

“The Food Guide has benefited from the input of many stakeholders,” the email said. “We are taking all feedback into consideration.”

Over coffee on a recent morning in downtown Toronto, the women, who met online, said the coming recommendations, which are based, in part, on evidence reviews released by Health Canada in 2015, will likely tell Canadians to limit added sugar and encourage them to eat whole, rather than processed foods. Those are good things, they said.

But, they said, Health Canada continues to hold strong on evidence that’s outdated and incomplete. For instance, they said some studies show that diets low in saturated fat, from sources such as beef and butter, are associated with heart disease.

But the jury of science is still deliberating on the full impact of saturated fat on health and so, the women said, in those cases and others, the Food Guide should remain “silent.” Or, conduct a rigorous, independent review of the research.

The women’s crusade began several years ago with their own, quiet struggles to lose weight.

After giving birth to her second child, Loffelmann dutifully followed the diet advice, informed by the Food Guide, that she learned in medical school. She ate whole grains, substituting whole wheat for white pasta, and leaned off the butter. Heeding the guide’s deeper advice to move more and eat less, she took up high-intensity exercise. But over time, her waistline expanded.

On the other side of the country, Allen Bradshaw, who was on the same kind of diet, struggled to lose weight and overcome gestational diabetes during her third pregnancy.

Independently, the two women began a search for answers diving deep into the scientific literature. What they found was that much of the Food Guide’s advice was not supported by the most current science.

So they started experimenting. Eating the opposite of the country’s nationally sanctioned advice by indulging in full fat yogurt and ditching the bowls of rice and pasta, they both lost weight. And stopped feeling hungry all the time.

The two took to the internet, sharing their successes with a small group of mom physicians across the country, who, to their surprise, were receptive. The small group grew as the women shared their results. Over time, they heard from doctors across Canada who began prescribing the same type of anti-food guide diet to their patients.

“All of a sudden, doctors are seeing their patients get off medication, losing weight and their markers of disease are dropping and their disease is going away,” Allen Bradshaw said.

That was a turning point for the women.

Armed with a letter signed by 190 physicians, they sent it to Health Canada in 2016, saying that in the 35-plus years since the government entered the country’s kitchens, the population has grown fat and sick.

Their letter urged the bureaucrats, who were at that point relying on evidence available in 2014, to consider the most current studies available. The letter added: “Stop using any language suggesting that sustainable weight control can simply be managed by creating a caloric deficit.”

The response was a form letter. The women answered it with a more detailed version of their initial correspondence, this time citing the current, relevant studies and signed by 700 medical professionals including doctors, nurses and pharmacists. They received a deeper response from federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor.

It said her ministry was relying on “high quality reports with systematic reviews of associations between food and health” from federal agencies in the U.S. and around the world. And that it continued to monitor for more evidence.

After more of a back and forth, the physicians were invited to Ottawa for a meeting with Health Canada.

It was a warm May morning this year when the women, along with three others, including Dr. Andrew Samis, a critical care and stroke physician from Kingston, Ont., stood outside the parliamentary building that houses Health Canada’s headquarters. They took a deep breath. Within minutes, they were spirited to a boardroom.

Over two hours, they explained their position, including, Samis said, that science on saturated fat remains incomplete and the government should reconsider the evidence it uses and how it evaluates what evidence to use for its recommendations.

He also told the bureaucrats, including Hasan Hutchinson, director general at Health Canada’s Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion, that Canadians, a multicultural lot, should be given several diet options, rather than a one size fits all. To varying degrees, he said, the research supports five legitimate diets, including plant-based, low fat, Mediterranean, ancestral paleo — fruits, vegetables and lots of protein — and keto, meaning low carb, high fat. Samis said: “We felt they were really listening.”

But shortly after the meeting, Samis heard Hutchinson on the radio plugging the old, tired advice. “It was disappointing,” he said.

The group’s last attempt at persuading lawmakers was a parliamentary petition signed by 5,000 Canadians and presented on Sept. 26 in the House of Commons urging lawmakers to conduct an external review of the evidence before unleashing new, potentially harmful advice on the public.

With that, the doctors have been left to wait. And spread their message in webinars and talks large and small across the country.

At CFB Trenton, Allen Bradshaw, who spent 14 years in the Canadian army as a medic, drank in the atmosphere and relished the nostalgia of her time in the reserves, where she assisted army doctors in tending to injured soldiers. The crowd, she said, ate up her anti-diet advice especially the edict that society has to stop blaming patients who follow the Food Guide and fail to lose weight, she said. “It’s not their fault.”

Michele Henry is a Toronto-based investigative reporter. Follow her on Twitter: @michelehenry

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These Are the Best Steak Knives I’ve Ever Owned

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I live in a New York City apartment, which means I don’t have a lot of space, which in turn means everything I buy needs to be utilitarian. Whether it’s a slotted spoon or chef’s knife, it needs to be the best, most functional version of itself. If it aesthetically stands out, that adds another layer. Ideally, it’s a combo of both. Part of the way I find tools like this is by paying attention when I eat out at restaurants. I’m that diner who inspects every glass, plate, and piece of cutlery.

When I saw these Tableware’s Not Dead steak knives from maker Roland Lannier at NYC’s Contra, I knew I had to have them. For so long, restaurants have been serving their steaks with serrated knives, which actually rip through the meat. These straight-edge blades (yes, the more curved side is actually the dull side) make a clean slice, not a ragged tear. It feels just like slicing through a stick of butter.

tableware steak knives 1

Photo by Alex Lau

The perfect balance of beauty and utility.

Their slick shape is modern yet classic, and the handles come in different materials, from wood to bamboo, and more. Each set is different and unique. Sure they cost a pretty penny, but it’s about investment here. These are knives I’ll never need throw away. This year, I’ll be gifting them to my friends in need of some oomph in the tableware department. Then they’ll be ready to host a dinner party that will pass any picky guests’ inspections. Myself, of course, included.

You know what would make a pretty great holiday gift? Our magazine! And a cool tote bag, plus some great baking tools (and Skor bars!!!) for holiday cookies. More details here.

All products featured on Bonappetit.com are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Steak and Eggs with Beans Recipe

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Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low. Cook shallots, garlic, and cilantro stems, stirring often, until softened but not yet browned, about 3 minutes. Add beans, butter, and ¾ cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are saucy, 6–9 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro leaves. Finely grate some lime zest from one of the lime halves into beans, then squeeze in its juice. Season with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.

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