Saturday, February 20, 2010

Week 24: The Feast

I really wanted to be a winner of The Pioneer Woman's Surf and Turf Weekend Giveaway. To console myself, I planned a monster feast and showed up at my BFFs house with all the necessary ingredients.

Salad: Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing
Entree 1: Baked Shrimp Scampi
Entree 2: Roasted Beef Tenderloin
Side dish: Baked potato
Dessert: Ice cream sandwiches

Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing
Adapted from an Alton Brown recipe
Prep time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

8 ounces young spinach
2 large eggs, hard-boiled and sliced
8 pieces thick-sliced bacon, chopped
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large white mushrooms, sliced
3 ounces red onion (1 small), very thinly sliced

Remove the stems from the spinach and wash, drain and pat dry thoroughly. Place into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Fry the bacon and remove to a paper towel to drain, reserving 3 tablespoons of the rendered fat. Crumble the bacon and set aside.

Transfer the fat to a small saucepan set over low heat and whisk in the red wine vinegar, sugar and Dijon mustard. Season with a small pinch each of kosher salt and black pepper.

Add the mushrooms and the sliced onion to the spinach and toss. Add the dressing and bacon and toss to combine. Divide the spinach between 4 plates or bowls and evenly divide the egg among them. Season with pepper, as desired. Serve immediately.

My notes:
This dressing was a lot lighter tasting (if dressing made with bacon grease can be light tasting) than the one from my favorite supper club. The combination of sugar and vinegar was delicious, though.

Baked Shrimp Scampi
Adapted from Ina Garten
Cook time: 13 minutes
Servings: 6

2 pounds (12 to 15 per pound) shrimp in the shell
3 tablespoons good olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1/4 cup minced shallots
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 extra-large egg yolk
2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture.

In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until combined.

Starting from the outer edge of a 14-inch oval gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish. Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until hot and bubbly. If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1 minute. Serve with lemon wedges.

My notes:
Seriously, utterly, and completely delicious. I wouldn't change a thing.

Beef Tenderloin
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Servings: 8

1 whole (4 To 5 Lbs.) Beef Tenderloin, trimmed
4 Tablespoons Salted Butter, or more to taste
⅓ cups Whole Peppercorns (More Or Less, To Taste)
Lawry's Seasoned Salt (Or Your Favorite Salt Blend)
Lemon Pepper Seasoning
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Sprinkle meat generously with Lawry’s. Rub it in with your fingers. Sprinkle both sides generously with lemon & pepper seasoning.

Place the peppercorns in a Ziploc bag, and with a mallet or a hammer or a large, heavy can, begin smashing the peppercorns to break them up a bit. Set aside.

Heat some olive oil in a heavy skillet. When the oil is to the smoking point, place the tenderloin in the very hot pan to sear it. Throw a couple of tablespoons of butter into the skillet to give it a nice little butter injection before going in the oven. A minute or two later, when one side is starting to turn nice and brown, flip and repeat.

Place the tenderloin on an oven pan with a rack. Sprinkle the pummeled peppercorns all over the meat. Press the pepper onto the surface of the meat. Put several tablespoons of butter all over the meat.

Stick the long needle of the thermometer lengthwise into the meat. Place it in a 475-degree oven until the temperature reaches just under 140 degrees, about fifteen to twenty minutes. Stay near the oven and keep checking the meat thermometer to make sure it doesn’t overcook.

Let meat stand ten minutes before slicing, so the meat will have a chance to relax a bit.

My notes:
This was really flavorful, although I think we may have used just a little too much Lawry's. I'll also cook it longer next time. 140 was just a little too rare for my taste. It sure was a quick and flavorful way to cook a steak when it's too cold to grill.

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