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Meat & Potatoes

December 22, 2015

Historically, standards for Capital Region eateries may not have been the highest. I heard a memorable refrain by some old timers inside an old-timey tavern, recalling with nostalgia the passable food at a long gone haunt.

“Well, the meat wasn’t green, and the vegetables weren’t brown.”

That just about sums it up. Part of me has a desire to further speculate on the reasons for this state of affairs, but it’s fair to say that the influences of the past still play out today. At its core, even though we eat green vegetables, this is a meat and potatoes town,

Now there are some who may dismiss meat and potatoes as a basic or pedestrian combination. Others may suggest it’s played out and boring. But you’ll hear none of that coming from me. Meat and potatoes is such a classic because it is so goddamn delicious. All the same, it’s something that we rarely eat for dinner at the Fussy household. And up until last week, it wasn’t even something I’d even consider for a weeknight meal.

Last night that all changed.

One of my great life challenges is trying to find a meal that everyone around the table will enjoy. It looks like steak and potatoes just made the list. You may recall that I tried this with the kids once before, and cooked up a grassfed ribeye when Mrs. Fussy was out of town. The results were unsatisfactory.

Turns out my kids have expensive tastes. The full flavored cut of beef didn’t wow them, but the tenderness of filet mignon was right up their alley.

The only way that this came about was a massive sale of whole grassfed beef tenderloin at Shop Rite recently where I was able to snag this giant piece of muscle for $6 a pound. I’m not even sure how that’s possible, especially since the beef had to be shipped fresh from Australia.

You can save your arguments about the carbon footprint of transporting that beef from halfway around the world. Because pretty much all my clothes are made in second and third world countries, my coffee is far from local, and I’m not giving up French cheeses, Spanish olive oils, or Chinese tea. Plus let’s not forget the global spice trade which has been the basis of international shipping for centuries.

But what a treat this was, and what a simple thing to prepare.

I sliced the steaks relatively thin, so they could cook for a minute per side in hot cast iron skillet, and come out pink in the center after resting for 10 minutes in the oven. While that was going on, I turned the browned bits in the pan into a quick sauteed onion topping for me. Boiled potatoes were sliced in half and pan fried. And in this case the token green vegetable was a bag of frozen peas.

We had red wine in large, thin rimmed, stemmed glasses. I won’t call them fancy, but they are what we use to elevate wine from the everyday.

Quite frankly, given our reasonable portion sizes, the leanness of the beef, and its reportedly grass-based diet, the meal didn’t feel like a fat or calorie bomb. And somehow, even with this premium cut of meat, this dinner cost less than four value meals at McDonald’s. And that includes the wine.

Was this as good as one of Emily’s steaks from Sentinel Butchery? No. It wasn’t. Her stuff is absolutely delicious. Of course, it’s a bit more expensive to buy sustainably raised beef from small local farms, than close-out meat shipped from the other side of the planet. But even still, you can pick up a flat iron steak from this amazing shop in Troy for about five bucks, which would make an absolutely glorious dinner for one.

I don’t know if I can get the kids to eat it. However, one of these days I’m going to try.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. RogerK permalink
    December 22, 2015 1:32 pm

    Similar to your Australian beef footprint, I continue to wonder about the need for Gelato shipped from Italy… until I taste it.

  2. December 22, 2015 4:03 pm

    I keep sneaking CAB from Price Chopper into the freezer because I find the flavor of grain-finished beef to be so much richer. And of course the marbling is better, though that’s not relevant to tenderloin. Looking forward to getting to Emily’s new place to see if she can solve this problem for me.

  3. December 24, 2015 8:14 am

    Unfortunately my wife and daughter don’t care for beef, so it’s rarely eaten at home. That may partly explain my obsession with burgers.

    Frozen peas are a staple in our house because the little one loves them, and getting green stuff into her belly is a challenge, so we’ll take our victories where we can. They’re the only frozen veggies we eat, except maybe some frozen corn on occasion in the months when the fresh, local stuff isn’t available.

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