Being out of class for the summer has been extraordinary. I feel like I just emerged from a thick layer of endless fog that I had been blindly flailing inside of for the past few months. I remembered that I had actual friends. I remembered what it felt like to be free to make plans at the last minute. I wandered in circles around my apartment on a Saturday afternoon because I was absolutely certain that I was forgetting a crucial errand (I wasn’t, I was gloriously void of any facet of responsibility).
I decided to celebrate my return to the land of the 20-somethings by outdoing myself on dinner. I looked through my kitchen and determined that I had not one, but three open bottles of Port in my wine cabinet. This was strange, both because bottles of wine don’t last long in my home (judge away) and because we neglected to finish one bottle before uncorking another (and another). Graduate school brain haze? Yes, that…and the fact that we got a “good” bottle of Port as a gift after half-finishing our budget bottle, and we never did learn good waiting skills.
At the risk of being judged by our future house guests (which we now have the time to accommodate!), I decided to work on finishing off one of our open Port bottles in my recipe…Steak. Easy choice. And not only steak…but actual, nice quality steak. We are adults now, right?
Dry-Rubbed Skirt Steak with Port Pomegranate Reduction and Spinach Parmesan Rice “Hash”
-¾ lb skirt steak
-1/3 cup Port wine
-1/2 cup 100% pure pomegranate juice (not from concentrate…it cost more, but you’ll offend the steak if you get stingy)
-Juice from ¼ large lemon (save the rest)
-Dollop of honey
-Small shallot, peeled and minced
-2 to 3 cloves of fresh garlic, cut into thin slivers
-Dry rub: dried rosemary, garlic powder, sea salt, pepper, a dash of maple sugar (if available)
-Olive oil and butter
-1 cup of brown rice
-Shredded fresh parmesan (try to get large shreds instead of grated)
-A few handfuls of baby spinach
-A little lemon juice
-Dry rub the skirt steak on both sides and sprinkle with a little lemon. Take a sharp knife, pierce small “pockets” into steak, and squeeze the slivers of garlic directly into the meat, repeating all over the steak on both sides. Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes so the spices sink in.
-For the rice, I use a rice cooker. Start your rice by adding the 1 cup brown rice to 2.25 cups of water.
-Add both olive oil and butter to a large pan over medium heat. As soon as it gets hot, add the steak. Sear for several minutes on each side, spooning the oil and butter mixture over the steak repeatedly as it cooks (on both sides), like basting a turkey. When the steak is medium rare, remove and allow to sit—covered. The steak will continue to cook once it’s removed, so when in doubt, remove it early (you can always throw it back on for a minute later if it’s too rare for you, but rare is tastiest).
-In the same pan, add the shallots and sauté until they are lightly browned and caramelized. Add the port, pomegranate juice, and lemon juice and scrape up browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer down for about 13-14 minutes, stirring frequently. Towards the end, add a dollop of honey, to taste. Check your steak, and add any accumulate steak juices to the reduction. Cook for another minute, until it begins to get thicker and slightly syrupy.
-In a separate pan, sauté the spinach in a little olive oil. It only needs about a minute to cook, until it’s just begun to wilt. Squeeze some lemon juice over the spinach about 30 seconds before you take it off the heat. Once your rice is finished cooking, add the spinach and lemon pan juices directly into the rice. Sprinkle a generous handful or two of parmesan cheese into the rice and mix everything until creamy. Salt to taste.
-Remove the garlic slices from your skirt steak and slice it thinly, spooning all the sauce and shallots over it. Serve alongside the rice “hash”, which provides a hearty and flavorful starch to offset the tangy reduction.
I could mince my words, but this dinner was pretty bad-ass. It looked like happiness on a plate. The steak was super tender, bursting with flavor from the inside out, and the reduction smacks you in the face with bold and tart sweetness (yes, it can be both). It reminds you that food is LIFE…for me, at least. I ended my night with slightly less Port in my wine cabinet, and a proud reclaiming of my culinary hobby. Travel plans are right on the horizon, with a trip to Iceland ahead of us next week. My moments of calm normalcy are brief and fleeting, which is how I like it, but coating them in reduction sauces and seared steak is just an added perk. True “normalcy” is overrated 🙂