January 17, 2013

Weeknight Dinner: Beef with Herbes de Provence with Butter Lettuce and Red Pear Salad


Beef with Herbes de Provence with Butter Lettuce and Red Pear
Every year my husband says that his new year's resolution is to eat more salads for dinner.  But here's the reality, his version of salad is very different from mine, he actually doesn't eat that many vegetables.  No cucumbers, no bell peppers, no mushrooms, and no tomatoes, except in sun dried form and in tomato sauces and ketchup, oh, and no onions (raw) either.  Well, when I was growing up and we had salad, pretty much everything that I just described him not eating was what I thought of as 'salad!'  So I said, 'I would make more salad, but you don't seem to like many vegetables?'  His response was so simple, 'I mean I want lettuce.'  Ah.  Lettuce!  Well, I'm in favor of granting the man what he wants, but it also has to be good, so, here it is :)  Sliced top round marinated in herbes de provence and garlic, which you sear very quickly, and the salad is so simple, butter lettuce and red pears (which are currently one of my favorite things) with a vinaigrette made with walnut oil.  So good, you'll forget it's a weeknight ;)

Marinade
Beef with Herbes de Provence
Marinade (enough for 2-3 pounds of meat, you can save it up to a week in the refrigerator)
1/4 cup dried herbes de provence
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped or put through a press
1/4 Tbsp red pepper flakes
1/2 Tbsp sea salt (I use red sea salt)
generous amount freshly ground white pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Meat
0.75 lb. Beef top round, either 0.5" or 1" thick, sliced into 0.5" wide pieces

0.5" thick top round cut into strips
In a small bowl, combine the marinade ingredients.  A good rule of thumb for the amount of pepper is about 1/4 to 1/2 the amount of salt.  Herbes de provence are great, good flavor.  Slice the meat- I ordered these groceries to be delivered to my house and they gave me the wrong thickness of top round, 0.5" instead of 1" thick, but honestly, it was just fine, maybe even better.  Top round is an interesting cut of meat to me- it's on the lean side and can be tough, which is why making it into strips and marinating it is a good idea.  Plus, I feel like it's a good thing to buy and use different cuts of meat!  I think the key to good top round is marinating and having small pieces with a lot of surface area.  I like to marinate my meat in zip lock bags, so you can use your hands on the outside of the bag to move it all around.  So get a big zip lock bag!  So, for 0.75 lb. of meat, I used 3-4 Tbsp of the marinade.  I put the remainder of the marinade in a small mason jar and will use it on chicken later this week.  It will keep for a week.  Let your top round marinate for a few hours if you can.  I do this step while the baby is taking her afternoon nap and my son is playing and can spare me for a little while.

Marinating the top round in a zip lock bag
In the meantime, you can get your salad ready.

Salad with Butter Lettuce, Red Pear and Walnut Oil Dressing
3-3.5 oz. butter lettuce
1 red pear (plus one for you to snack on..)

Dressing
1 part white wine vinegar
2 parts walnut oil
sea salt
freshly ground white pepper

Keep your salad dressing in a mason jar in the fridge
Pretty much salad dressing is one part acid and two parts oil- sometimes that acid is vinegar, sometimes citrus juice- it is all delicious.  Now I really want a salad with citrus dressing...  Anyhow, I make my salad dressing a lot at a time in a small mason jar and I just put the lid on and shake it to mix it up, then it just goes in the fridge until I am ready to use it.  Walnut oil is nice, it doesn't have much flavor, and it doesn't solidify in the refrigerator, so that's helpful, some oils do and you have to thaw your dressing before you use it- ugh!  (although, if this is you and you're using the stove, just put it on the warm stove and it will speed it up!)  Ok- so make your salad dressing and get your lettuce ready by rinsing it and then either cut it into bite sized pieces (about 2"x1") or just tear it.  Use a salad spinner.  Really?  Yes really, here is why- if your lettuce is wet, the dressing doesn't coat it very well and it's just kind of all wet.  So, spin it, and put it in a wide bowl.  Rinse your beautiful red pear- seriously, I was eating one of these recently and I thought it tasted like the most delicious white wine I'd every tasted, but then I thought, don't we usually say wine has fruit tastes- this was sort of funny to me!  Pear with hints of sauvingnon blanc...  Anyhow, cut the pear into small pieces, I do about 0.25" wide and about 0.5" tall.  Add the pear to the lettuce, add a pinch of sea salt, a few grinds of white pepper, some dressing, and toss!
Delicious red pear

Butter Lettuce and Red Pear Salad
Le Creuset Grill Pan
Now, fire up your stove- I like to use a Le Creuset grill pan for this- one because it is heavy cast iron and distributes heat really, really well, and two, I like the grill marks- their look and flavor!  I spray the pan with Pam grilling spray.  Heat it at medium high heat, then add the meat in batches, with the 0.5" thick top round, I cooked them about 2 minutes on each side, just using a fork to turn them over.  It  took me about 3 batches to cook 0.75 lb. of top round.

To serve, mound the salad on the plate and lay the meat pieces across the top- enjoy!  The extra meat can be put on the table for seconds.  For two adults, we ate 0.75 lb. of top round and the whole salad.  But, I did get another steak that is marinating in the refrigerator with porchetta seasoning (fennel, rosemary, black pepper and salt) and that is tomorrow's dinner.  

Play in the snow!
Wear a ruffly sweater on a lilihan rug!
And smile :)
I hope this gives your weeknight dinners in the new year some inspiration!  We had a chocolate cinnamon bread for dessert.  And, I did make two epiphany cakes that we've been going through...

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