Steak Fingers

So simple. So good.

Do you have steak, flour, neutral oil and buttermilk in your fridge and pantry right now?

I thought so. Go ahead and get that oil ready at frying temp, because you’re having steak fingers for dinner tonight.

Just like your classic Southern fried chicken, you’re looking for those ripply, crispy grooves of fried batter. The thick coating of flour readily adheres to the buttermilk and is going to help with that.

And the dredge is garlic powder heavy. Because it’s going to make these ultra-yummy – something that garlic powder is particularly good at.

I have this thing about marbled steaks. When I go to the butcher counter, I’ll typically gravitate toward the marbly-est one. Even when the bone is in, or the portion is too much for what I need. This usually leaves me with ribeye, skirt steak and T-bone cuts. Here, I walked out with an inches-thick, fatty ribeye.

I let the steak strips marinate in the buttermilk for several hours. It moistened the meat to a degree I didn’t think possible. Something about that slightly acidic dairy does something wonderful to proteins that live in it for a while.

The dipping sauces to go along with these strips? That’s where you do you. I love dipping meat strips of any variety in my favorite barbecue sauce – the most readily available, best tasting barbecue sauce is Stubb’s Spicy Barbecue Sauce. It’s a bit tangier, and the “spicy” moniker actually lives up to its name.

Because I can’t help a good plug – other good dippers might be any one of Hankerings dressings – especially Hankerings Not-So-Secret Ranch Dressing. Or you could go for Hankerings Blue Cheese Dressing. Steak and blue cheese? Classic. Whatever your move, both will be explosively good with these strips.

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 1 1 / 2 lb. ribeye steak
  • 2 cups flour
  • 6 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons salt, plus extra for sprinkling as garnish
  • 2 tablespoons pepper
  • 4 cups buttermilk
  • Enough vegetable or canola oil to reach two inches-high in a fry-safe pan

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Cut the entire ribeye into strips – approximately 1 1 / 2 inches wide and 6 inches long. If you have shorter and longer pieces, it’s all good. Let it marinate in the buttermilk for as long as possible, preferably overnight.
  2. Combine the dredge ingredients – the flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a fry-safe pan – enough that the oil rises 2 inches high in the pan. To test the oil readiness, put a pinch of flour in the oil. If it begins to sizzle and brown, the oil is ready to use.
  4. Remove the steak strips from the buttermilk, and dredge them in the flour, pressing the coating into the meat so there is a thick coating. Move the dredged steak strips to a clean plate.
  5. Once the oil is ready, place the steak strips in the oil, being careful not to crow the strips.
  6. Fry the strips for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until they are golden brown.
  7. Remove the strips from the oil, and sprinkle liberally with salt, alongside your favorite dipping sauce.
  8. Serve hot.

 

Pickle-Brined Fish & Chips

I’ve never brined a protein before – and after this recipe, I’m regretting not experimenting with brining sooner.

I’ve only heard the pros of the brining method, mostly from people who regularly brine their Thanksgiving turkeys. Perfumes meat with desired flavors. Keeps meat juicy and tenderized. Imparts perfect level of saltiness.

All of these held true for the brine I soaked the cod in for these fish and chips. Except I didn’t use anything elegant along the lines of an orange peel, thyme and cardamom-infused brine.  Although that sounds like a good idea.

I used dill pickle juice.

Being careful to keep the cod’s dignity intact, the brine used wasn’t the Yellow 5-dyed stuff from a jar, but leftover from the dill pickles I made a few weeks back (brining liquid instructions per that recipe, excluding the hot peppers).

With time to spare before subjecting my stovetop to yet another splattering frying session, I threw the cod in the pickle juice and allowed it to soak for a few hours.

It wasn’t the pickles that you tasted in the fish meat – I primarily tasted the garlic. Remember, the tartar sauce has a pickle thing going on already, so you are getting a double pickle hit. I welcome this with open arms.

Is it just me, or are fish and chips that much better when you’re holding the scalding hot pieces of fish in a flimsy, poorly-executed paper cone while the grease drips onto your shirt and pants? While there are plates, forks and knives in your kitchen that you could use?

Infinitely better tasting, is where I was going with that. I don’t know why that is.

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

F o r  t h e  B r i n e

  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 4 cups water
  • Approximately 10 cloves garlic, smashed & skins removed
  • Approximately 20 stems fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

F o r  t h e  T a r t a r  S a u c e

  • 1 / 3 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 dill pickle spear, minced
  • 2 tablespoons white onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, minced
  • 1 / 4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Pinch of sugar

F o r  t h e  F i s h

  • 4 to 6 4 oz. pieces fresh cod fillet
  • Vegetable oil, as needed for frying
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

F o r  t h e  C h i p s

  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 2 stems thyme, leaves removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed
  • Olive oil, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Heat the water, vinegar, salt and sugar on the stovetop until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the peppercorns, dill and garlic and allow to cool to room temperature. Once room temperature, place the cod in the brining liquid, leaving in the fridge for 3 to 4 hours to soak.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375*.
  3. Cut the potatoes into spears, and place on a sheet pan. Toss with a coating of olive oil, a large pinch of salt, a large pinch of pepper, the thyme and the minced garlic. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown and tender, tossing once to maintain even cooking.
  4. Combine the tartar sauce ingredients. Set in the fridge to chill while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  5. Combine the flour, garlic powder, and black pepper. Toss the cod fillets in the flour, then back into the brine, then back into the flour mixture, setting the pieces of fish on a clean plate.
  6. In the meantime, heat vegetable oil in a skillet so there are 1 1 / 2 to 2 inches of oil in the pan. Once frying temperature (test oil with a pinch of flour to see if it starts to sizzle), place the cod in the oil, waiting to flip the fish only after the underside is a golden brown.
  7. Serve the fish and chips hot, in rolled newspaper or parchment paper, if desired, along with the tartar sauce.