This past weekend was one nippy, blustery bugger. Gusts of wind blew in short, but phenomenal bursts, ruffling the curtains and knocking over small household objects. Stepping outside felt both thrilling and mildly threatening. If I were a small animal, I would have burrowed into a hovel deep in the ground, and not come out until the coast was clear.
I settled for the human equivalent, spending the day doing laundry and listening to Erik Satie on repeat. A bad day for being outside turned out to be a good day for doing a final triage of summer clothes and getting reacquainted with the warmer, woolier things that will slowly make their way into the wardrobe. I felt like a squirrel counting her acorns. Except my acorns included leg warmers, thermal socks and oversized sweaters. I can’t wait for the day I decide to wear all of those items together. Ladies, hide your boyfriends.
Transitioning into hibernation mode involves embracing the slow layering of mental and physical adjustments that come with cooler days and earlier nights. It’s a time when our fat-storing faculties kick in and we start to crave deeper and richer things. I don’t want to, say, drink a quart of whipping cream, but by this time of year, I start to forgo salads and ceviche and begin to daydream about steak. With mashed potatoes. And mushrooms in wine sauce.
The line-up below is one of the best ways to take cover from a windy, rainy night – bar none. Pour yourself a glass of red and you’re set.
Pan-fried steak with garlic mashed potatoes and honey-roasted carrots
Note: start with setting the oven to 400°F for the carrots and prepping and boiling the potatoes before doing anything else. Carrots and potatoes should be almost done when you’re ready to start cooking the mushrooms and, at the very end, the steak.
For the carrots:
- 10 small French carrots (carottes de Nantes)
- 1 Tbsp honey
- olive oil
- Maldon salt or fleur de sel
- freshly ground black pepper
Set the oven to 400°F. Place whole carrots in a roasting dish with the oil, honey, salt and pepper. Put in the oven and roast for about 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your carrots. Toss the carrots once, halfway through the cooking time. (Note: Stick a half-head of garlic in the oven when you start roasted the carrots – you will use this for the potatoes.)
For the potatoes:
- 4 medium-sized potatoes, chopped into rough cubes
- a knob of butter
- 1/4 cup milk (or cream)
- 2-3 cloves of garlic (roasted in the oven with the carrots – see above)
- sea salt
- potato ricer
Put the chopped potatoes in a large saucepan or Dutch oven and fill with enough cold water to cover the potatoes. Place on high heat until the water comes to a boil; lower the heat and allow to boil until the potatoes are soft and easily fall apart (for this recipe, about 15 minutes).
Drain potatoes and spoon into potato ricer a bit at a time, squeezing the shreds into the saucepan. Squeeze the roasted garlic through the ricer as well and mix into the potatoes with a wooden spoon. Add the knob of butter and the milk. Season with salt and stir until smooth.
For the mushroom/onion fricasée:
- 1 1/2 cups sliced white mushrooms
- 1 large onion, sliced
- handful of Italian parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup sweet Vermouth or red wine
- olive oil
- sea salt and pepper
Heat a swig olive oil in a pan on medium-heat heat. Once the oil begins to get hot, add the onions. Cook for a couple of minutes until they are translucent; add the mushrooms and cook until mushrooms and onions are browned, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Add the vermouth to de-glaze the pan. Toss in the parsley and give it all a stir. Keep warm until ready to serve on top of the steak.
For the steak:
- 2 x 200 g (7 oz) pieces of entrecôte, a.k.a rib-eye steak (note: the 250 g piece I cooked was enough for 2 people)
- 2 tsp steak rub (I used Montréal steak spice, but I encourage you to get creative will your mortar and pestle)
- olive oil
- knob of butter
Allow steak to come to room temperature. Heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan on medium-high heat. Toss in the knob of butter and a swig of olive oil to coat the pan. While the butter melts, prepare your steak by coating it in the spice rub.
When the fat starts to smoke, pull the pan off the heat, place the steak in the pan (there should be a sizzle), and return to the heat. Grill each side between 2-2½ minutes (for medium-rare for a one-inch steak). Wrap in aluminium foil and allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving (you can pour any accumulated juices from the steak into the mushroom fricasée and heat gently before serving.