Divine Dining: Steak for one — with sweet potato and green beans

Mar. 06, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

There is a sacred union, a perfect pairing, that most agree is a match made in heaven, leaving Romeo and Juliet and William and Kate in the dust. That pairing is, of course, steak and potatoes. Humanity has long since marveled at the wonder of a juicy, well-seasoned steak meeting a creamy, buttery potato. Some would say that a romance like this simply cannot be improved upon.

As you might expect, I disagree. When you take a petite filet mignon and season it well with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper and then cook it in your grandmother’s old cast iron skillet until a spicy crust encases buttery steak, you’re nearing perfection.

Being a Texan, it is generally assumed that all good steaks must be cooked on a mesquite grill. However, when it’s a bit chilly outside or you’re too tired after a long work day to fire up the grill, a beloved cast iron skillet works wonderfully.

Next comes that steak’s soul mate: the potato. A healthy sweet potato, baked to creamy, fluffy delight is the perfect choice. Add fresh green beans, roasted with garlic and olive oil until caramelized and dressed with a touch of fresh lemon juice, and you have a meal worthy of a special occasion, but simple enough to make any old Wednesday night worth remembering. 

You’ll notice that this recipe is written for just one serving. So often, recipes assume you have a crowd at dinnertime. Sometimes, it’s just you and your dog. I’ve often heard single women, especially later in years, say they don’t really cook any more, because they have no one to cook for.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: you are worth cooking for. You deserve a great meal, and you are worth the effort. Okay, sermon over. Whether you’re happily single or your other half is away, take an evening to celebrate you through the charming union of steak and potatoes.

Steak for One

Ingredients:

For the steak:

6 oz. filet mignon

1 t. sea salt

1 t. fresh cracked black pepper

1 T vegetable oil

  For the baked potato:

1 sweet potato, washed and wrapped well in foil

1/2 t. sea salt

1/2 t. fresh cracked black pepper

2 T butter (the real stuff)

  For the green beans:

1/3 lb. fresh green beans, ends snapped off

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 t. sea salt

1/2 t. fresh cracked black pepper

1 T extra-virgin olive oil

1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place foil-wrapped potato on a baking sheet and bake, until tender, about 1 hour. Toss green beans and garlic with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the same oven for the last 20 minutes of cooking.

While the potato is baking, bring your steak out of the fridge so it can come to room temperature. Remove baked potato and green beans. Toss green beans in lemon juice and cover to keep warm (you might need to warm them up again just before serving). Turn oven up to 500 degrees and place a small cast iron skillet in the oven until it reaches that temperature. Meanwhile, pat the filet dry with a paper towel (so you get nice caramelization on it) and season with the salt and pepper on both sides, pressing gently into the meat. Many use store bought steak seasonings, but those things are full of preservatives, y’all, and I assure you that when a steak is properly seasoned with salt and pepper, it needs no other seasoning. Remove skillet from oven (carefully — it’s nearly molten at this point!) and place on stovetop set to high heat. Add vegetable oil and rotate the skillet to get an even coating. You use this oil instead of olive oil or butter because it does not smoke as easily as olive oil or burn as quickly as butter. Sear steak for one minute on each side, and then rotate on its edge to sear the sides as well. The coarse salt and pepper form a perfect crust, sealing in all the flavor. Place back in the 500 degree oven and bake for 3 minutes, then flip and bake for an additional 3 minutes. This is for a medium-rare steak. If you prefer medium, bake for an additional minute on each side. For medium-well, add another minute per side and so on. I really recommend that you do not cook this steak to well-done. Remove steak from skillet and rest on a cutting board for 5-10 minutes, so that the juices can redistribute and not run out when you cut it. The biggest mistake people often make is cutting their steak too soon, thus having all the moisture leave it. Split sweet potato and add butter, salt and pepper. Serve steak with its beloved potato companion and the roasted garlic-lemon green beans.

Share your beloved recipes with me at heraldfood@gmail.com.

The Rev. Whitney Wilkinson is pastor of Cameron Presbyterian Church.