Steak 16: Pan-Cooked with Sweet Potato Fries

Well, here it is, and I have to warn you, it was a bit anticlimactic. In the near future, I’ll consolidate my notes from these and put together a compendium of lessons learned during this project. But in the meantime, the sixteenth steak has been cooked, and here are my notes.

The Big Idea: I was hungry, and had a steak in the freezer. I also had a sweet potato, and a delicious looking smokey spice rub that I received for Christmas. I thought I’d make a garlic aioli to dip the fries in, cook the spice rubbed steak, and call it a meal.

The Steak: I dried it with paper towels and then sprinkled some smokey spice rub on the steak before letting it sit while I worked on the fries and sauce. When it was time to cook them, I heated up the pan and popped it in. I’d like to say that on this sixteenth try, I nailed it perfectly, but to be honest, I don’t think that I let the pan heat up quite enough. It could have charred better, but my steak sense at least meant that it was a pretty delicious medium rare. The seasoning was quite tasty, too.

Steak 16The Side: These weren’t as classy as those chili-lime glazed jicama fries I made a while ago, but they were solid. I just peeled the sweet potato and cut it into fry shapes, tossed it with some olive oil and baked them at 450 degrees. They got nice and crispy, and would be great for dipping in a garlic aioli….

The Sauce: I can’t beat around the bush with this one — this garlic aioli was a complete failure. I have never made mayonnaise before, but it seemed pretty straight forward. I just didn’t need quite as much mayonnaise as any of the recipes I saw claimed to produce, so I reduced one of them down to only include one egg yolk. I put it in the food processor with a little mustard, and very slowly added some olive oil. Unfortunately, at this volume, there wasn’t enough egg yolk to be properly whipped by the food processor, and the desired emulsion did not emerge. I got some nicely blended olive oil, and threw in a couple cloves of garlic anyways for some flavor. It still tasted fine, but was not a particularly satisfying dipping experience. This could be a good segue into the sixteen sauces project I’ve been thinking about. Next time, I’ll start with a minimum of two egg yolks.

The Verdict: This may seem like a bit of an underwhelming meal, and it some ways, it was. But I’m pretty pleased with it as my sixteenth effort. It demonstrates my ability, even without anything else going particularly well, and operating from a somewhat distracted and uninspired mindset, to produce a reliable medium rare sirloin steak. I can give myself a solid B on this basic life cooking skill, after only 16 attempts, and I feel pretty good about that. I look forward to improving in this department, and also in all the departments I’ve touched along the way (Hold tight, sauces! I’m coming!), but I’ve gotten off to a good start. Stay tuned for a summary of lessons learned later this week, or maybe next.


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