I like the colder weather months for a number of reasons (not least of which is that they go much faster if I like rather than just tolerate them). One of those reasons is the food: “Winter” food typically requires more time over a stove or in the oven. (Not me. The food, silly!)
And sometimes I don’t have time to cook so — I go with the easy stuff. Like last night. About as basic as it’s possible to get: steak and roasted root vegetables.These are two dishes that work best with a whole lotta heat: From trial-and-error, I’ve concluded that the optimal oven temperature for roasting vegetables i 425. For meat, a HOT pan or broiler.
Usually when I cook steak (and that’s not often), I do it stove-top: I heat a pan, add a thin drizzle of oil, and sear. But last night I wanted to try something different, so I consulted Bittman’s How To Cook Everything (on my iPad. TOTALLY worth the money). One of his suggestions was as follows:
Heat a heavyish pan (cast iron is best, but I used an old, beat-up Calpholon pan) until it’s smoking. No oil. Sprinkle some salt in the pan. Add the meat, and sear for three minutes. Turn and sear the other side for three minutes. Don’t do as I did, cough cough, and sprinkle more salt in the pan before you flip it. It’ll be too salty. The piece I cooked was a New York Strip, about an inch thick. Three minutes a side rendered a perfect medium rare. And the char was fabulous. I doubt I’ll go back to my old method of using some oil. Sublime. (Yes, I know you vegetarians/vegans are now busy gagging. What can I say? I didn’t eat meat for 25 years, so been there, done that.)
As for the vegetables: PRE-HEAT THE OVEN. You need the oven to be hot before the vegetables go in. I had a parsnip and a beet. They were fairly large, but there are only two people in my house, so that was plenty. I chopped them into largish chunks, put them in a bowl (for easier mixing). Drizzled olive oil over them and tossed gently. Sprinkled salt and pepper. Tossed. Chopped a tiny (emphasis on tiny) bit of garlic. Tossed. Transferred them to a baking sheet (aka a jelly roll pan) and into the oven they went, for about 40 minutes. Also perfection. Lots of crunchy, not-quite-burned bits with each bite. Yum!
Pour the red wine or hearty beer and you’re set.