Bon Appetit magazine is chock full of fabulous ideas this month. I usually read through all the recipes and put stars next to the ones I intend to try. Much like highlighting college textbooks, I felt like it would have been easier to mark the ones I did not want to use this month.
Here we have harissa-marinated sirloin tips and Isaraeli couscous with asparagus and peas. As with many BA recipes, the steak is marinated in something that, although increasingly popular among the cuisine-minded, is not found in the local market. I have realized that I can almost always figure out something to substitute after reading the description of the exotic ingredient in question. So, harissa is a chile sauce of Northern Africa. Well, I have Sriracha, a chile sauce of Thailand, already in my fridge - voila! - substitution made.
I used steaks from my frozen 1/4-steer and was determined to cook them perfectly. In my mind, "perfect" means rare. Medium-rare if I have to. So I seared them quickly ... too quickly. Turns out, treating fat slices of steak like shrimp doesn't work so well. Josh and I cut into our first bite and thought it looked like ahi. I probably would have eaten it if it was just me, quite honestly, but Josh thought it would be best thrown back in the skillet for a couple minutes. I will admit that they tasted better in the medium/medium-rare state they ended up in.
I believe I am paraphrasing Anthony Bourdain when I say that anyone who eats their meat well-done doesn't actually like meat. I would extend that to medium-well, even. The reason is that, once you cook a thing to smithereens, all real texture and flavor is lost. AB even said that when someone in a restaurant orders meat well-done, the kitchen will grab the oldest piece of meat in the fridge. Since there will be no flavor left, the diner will not be able to distinguish any off color, flavor or smell; these disappear through over-cooking.
I suppose this is part of my right way-wrong way thinking. I pretty much ascribe to the philosophy that there is a correct and, therefore, incorrect, way to do pretty much everything. Eating meat on the raw to medium scale (excepting poultry) is correct, so that's the way you should do it! Using the entire acceleration ramp to merge with freeway traffic is correct, so 99.99999% of Seattle drivers do it wrong and should learn how to drive correctly!
The couscous was quite good, too. The key was the dressing. Also key: toasting the couscous and cooking it in chicken broth.
Steak Marinade: 2T e.v.olive oil, 4 garlic cloves, minced, 2T golden brown sugar, 2T soy sauce, 1T minced fresh thyme, 2 tsp. harissa or Sriracha. Mix all that, toss in meat, and marinate anywhere from two hours to overnight. I put the marinade together in the morning and used the meat that night.
Couscous dressing: 2T e.v.olive oil, 2T lemon juice, 1 minced garlic clove, 1/2-1 tsp. grated lemon zest. Actually, I didn't measure the zest, I just used a small lemon and grated off the zest of the whole thing.