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Take some polenta... & some garlic... & some rosemary...

Posted Jan 27 2009 8:20pm

Sometimes the most luxurious meals are the simplest. Along the same lines, while weekends out and about, or hosting dinner parties festive and cozy alike, are undeniably fabulous, sometimes a quiet "weekend in" can be exceptionally special.

After studying all day on Saturday, Zach suggested the perfect Saturday evening: "let's do a little cooking, have a little wine, and watch the Olympics." The meal we ultimately splurged on seemed even more elegant because of its impromptu nature: polenta fries and rosemary garlic steaks. We rarely eat stakes, both because it's heavy nature isn't exactly what we feel we should consume on a daily basis, and because, simply, we can't afford it, but every once in a while an unplanned steak makes us feel like we've turned our kitchen table into a palace.

The supper we ultimately prepared last night was so simple in its assembly it doesn't even require a recipe, just a narrative -

Zach sliced some prepared polenta, a bit firmer in nature than the polenta we make from scratch, and hence more attuned to our purposes (and which took us 15 minutes to find in the grocery store because no one understood what the heck we were looking for), and tossed the polenta wedges with a splash of olive oil, a sprinkling of basil, and some salt and pepper. Into a nice, toasty 450 degree oven they went to bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, I, uncharacteristically, was preparing the steak (amazingly, this was the first steak I'd ever cooked - on the rare occasions we fix them, steaks have always been Zach's specialty). So, with a bit of trepidation, I coated both sides of the steak with 2 T minced garlic, 2 T fresh rosemary, picked from our back garden just moments before, and a generous dose of salt and pepper, then wrapped up the dish and slid it into the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes.

With 10 minutes of cooking left for the polenta fries, I heated a skillet over medium heat, coated it with cooking spray, and introduced the steaks. Just 6 minutes on each side, and the skillet was ready to come off the heat so the steaks could "rest" for 5 minutes. I've been told that the resting period allows the juices to redistribute throughout the steak so they don't run out upon slicing, so I diligently set the steaks aside for their nap while I quickly stir-fried some peas, corn, and green beans with a generous dose of garlic.

When the moment of truth arrived, Zach pronounced the steaks perfect, infused with plentiful rosemary flavor and just the right degree of garlic piquancy. I pronounced the polenta oven-fries perfectly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside... and we toasted each other with a glass of Zinfandel, and pronounced ourselves (or at least that night's culinary endeavors) thoroughly perfect.

P.S. In case you're wondering how I'm going to keep my pledge to include a vegetarian and non-vegetarian version of every recipe, and offer a vegetarian alternative to the above steak recipe, my answer is, without hesitation, tempeh! Tempeh, marinaded in garlic and rosemary, and sauteed in a bit of olive oil? Yes, please...
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