Steak #3: Broiled with Sprouts & Cauliflower

The Big Idea: So far I’ve done one steak on the grill and the other on the stove, so I figured Steak #3 should go in the broiler. Also, after the brown-on-brown theme of the last meal, I thought I’d try some more varied side dishes. The resulting vision was marinated, broiled steak with mashed cauliflower and roasted Brussels Sprouts with fennel, hazelnuts, shallots and dried cherries.

Credit where Credit is Due:

  • For the basics of steak broiling, as usual, I turned to How to Cook Everything By Mark Bittman. The only time I’ve gone wrong with advice from that book was the ill-fated time I left the eggs out of the crepe batter.
  • For the basics of mashed cauliflower, I followed the nice directions and pretty pictures at fabulous food blog Nom Nom Paleo.
  • Knowing I wanted to do the Brussels Sprouts with fennel, I took the idea for the rest from a recipe for Roasted Fennel Salad in Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. That recipe isn’t on her website, The Post Punk Kitchen, but based on her cookbook, she comes up with some pretty nifty veggie combinations.

The Marinade: Having learned a basic marinade template from Steak #1 (acid, seasoning, salt, pepper), I improvised a simple one for this time. Balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper. Pretty basic, but I wanted something not-too-flashy to go with my more flavorful side dishes. This served just fine for that

The Steak: I preheated an eight inch cast iron under the broiler while working on the sides, and the steak sizzled nicely when I put it in. After it had been under the broiler for a few minutes, I checked the doneness and flipped it. I found in previous, undocumented steak-broiling escapades that only the side on the pan browns. I don’t know if this is specific to the method, or to my less-than-powerful broiler.

I poked it a few times, still trying to get a feel for when it’s ready, and cut into the steak to check my assessment. It still looked mostly raw in the very center, so (foolishly, I later saw!) put it back under the broiler for a minute. Alas, the steak was medium-well done by the time I ate it.

The Sides: I had fun with these side dishes! The cauliflower was really easy – just steam it with a few cloves of garlic ’til it’s good and mushy, then throw it in the food processor with some heavy cream. For a little extra something, I sauteed a little leek in butter and mixed it in.

The brussels sprouts took a little more work, but they were worth it. I tossed them with olive oil and started them roasting in a large pan. After they’d been going for a few minutes, I added the chopped fennel and three shallots to the mix, and also popped some raw hazelnuts in to toast a little. When it all came out, I blended the shallots with olive oil, a dash of maple syrup, rice vinegar (the recipe called for champagne vinegar, but I’m out.), a bit of tarragon and thyme, and a tiny bit of nutmeg. And a little salt. Then I tossed the sprouts and fennel with the dressing and added in the chopped nuts and dried cherries. (Yes, the some of the same dried cherriesI mentioned in my last post. Ten points for cooking with dried fruit!)

The Verdict: This was a nice meal, despite the fact that the steak was slightly overdone. (That’s becoming a theme!) However, it wasn’t as exciting as it seemed like it should have been, especially with two sides. I’m not sure I can put a finger on it, but steak #3 was just a little underwhelming.

Notes for Next Time:

  • Clearly, my poking instincts are getting better – I think I more or less pegged the readiness of the steak by touch.
  • However, I need to trust them, and not be afraid of an underdone steak. Not that I really am, but you’d certainly think so by how I continue to overdo these guys. In the future, I resolve to fearlessly err on the raw side!
  • The mashed cauliflower was simple and tasty. I’ll keep it in mind for my next steak with a sauce, because it would be great in that capacity. I think it would be equally good with or without the leek, but the garlic was key.
  • The brussels sprouts were less simple, but also tasty. I think they needed a brighter taste to complement the rest of the meal, though. Though ingredient intensive, I’ll definitely make them again. Probably not with steak, though.


  • What makes a good side dish? How complicated can it be before it becomes distracting?
  • What is the proper relationship, if any, between side dish and marinade?
  • I’m taking bets: how many steaks will I have to cook before I manage to produce one rarer than medium-well?

Thanks for reading, guys!

This is part of the Sixteen Steaks series, in which Welcome to the Sixteen Steaks project, in which I try different ways of cooking sixteen steaks I won in a charity auction, and hopefully, become really good at in the process. You can read the rest of the series here.


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