The new Steak

The new Steak
The new Steak
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It’s hard to hide from certain trends, no matter how hard you try. Skinny jeans, moustaches, small batch, all things artisanal, $23 cups of coffee that are small batch, artisanal and served up by people in skinny jeans with moustaches. Then there’s quinoa, $32 ‘market driven’ cocktails with designer ice cubes, bacon, cupcakes, donuts, even cronuts.

 

One of the current trends that is impossible to hide from is this whole vegetable thing. Seems like the cover of every single food related magazine is The Vegetable Issue. Every article is about how vegetables are the new meat. This is Important and Singular and Now. All of the farm to table, market driven, sustainable chatter has led to this critical mass of The Vegetable. Alice Waters is probably folding inside herself.

 

And this is good. Vegetables are yummy, healthy and fun. And, unlike cows, chickens, wild boar and the like, we can grow them on our windowsills, rooftops, in our yards or community gardens. And kill, cook and eat them ourselves. What’s not to like about that?

 

One of my favorite veggies happens to be getting an extra spotlight within the vegetable ‘movement’ right now; the cauliflower. I’ve written about it before. I love everything about it; the way it looks, the way it cooks, the taste, texture, colors, its versatility, all of it. Soup, puree, in a salad, roasted with farro and topped with an egg, or roasted whole in the oven with some butter, salt and a little garam masala, on a pizza, or even battered and deep fried cauliflower.

 

The other iteration that you will find on more menus across the country right now, than the obligatory service charge for large parties, is the cauliflower steak. Literally serving a massive cross-section slab of cauliflower, grilled and treated like a slab of meat. Just a little salt, pepper and oil. Nothing else to distract from that sweet, nutty, subtle flavor. And maybe even take the parts that didn’t get used and make a puree, with a little butter and milk. Serve that under the steak to give you crisped edges that contrast with the unearthly creaminess of the puree. Instead of nose-to-tail, you’ve got head-to-stem; instead of whole animal you’ve gone whole vegetable. And you’ve got dinner.

 

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Cauliflower Steaks with Olive Relish & Tomato Sauce (4 servings)

 

Ingredients

1  large head of cauliflower
1/2  cup  pitted oil-packed black olives, finely chopped
3  tablespoons of tomato paste
3 1/2  tablespoons  olive oil, divided, plus more
2  tablespoons  chopped flat-leaf parsley
1  teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3  garlic cloves
2  medium tomatoes, cored, quartered

 

Directions

Remove leaves and trim stem end of cauliflower, leaving core intact. Place cauliflower core side down on a work surface. Using a large knife, slice cauliflower into four 1/2″ ‘steaks’ from center of cauliflower (some florets will break loose; reserve). Finely chop enough loose florets to measure 1/2 cup. Transfer chopped florets to a small bowl and mix with olives, tomato paste, 1 Tbsp. oil, parsley, and lemon juice. Season relish with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400°. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook cauliflower steaks until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side, adding 1 Tbsp. oil to pan between batches. Transfer steaks to a large rimmed baking sheet. Reserve skillet. Roast cauliflower until tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, return skillet to medium-high heat and add garlic cloves and tomatoes, one cut side down. Cook until tomatoes are browned; turn tomatoes over and transfer skillet to oven with cauliflower. Roast garlic and tomatoes until tender, about 12 minutes.

Transfer garlic, tomatoes, and 1/2 Tbsp. oil to a blender; purée until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Divide tomato sauce among plates. Place 1 cauliflower steak on each plate; spoon relish over. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 PHOTOS BY FREDERICK TURKO

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