Flank Steak and Polenta

A polenta craving is one not to pass over. There really is nothing you can do to fight it. The problem is, it is a pain in the ass to make. Not hard, but a bit more labor intensive than most people would like after working all day. At least it is for me. Because of the cold damp weather in NYC right now making comfort food a must, and my strict adherence to my New Year's Resolution to never have 6 pack abs, I had to indulge. Pan seared Flank Steak on a bed of Polenta. Topped with just a bit of pan gravy and some wilted Arugula. All bases covered!
In the spirit of the upcoming Oscars I will award the Best protien  in a leading role award goes to the Steak. I briefly marinated it simply in a bit of chopped garlic, white wine vinegar, Olive oil, about a tablespoon of tomato paste, salt and pepper for about 15 minutes. Really basic and tasty. The tomato paste seemed to help out with the caramelizing of the steak when I seared it.
The Oscar for Best New side dish goes to the Polenta. While fumbling around Whole Foods yesterday  I stumbled upon de la Estancia Organic Polenta. It promised to cook in one minute but to NOT be instant Polenta. They were right. It cooked in one minute. Here is the reason why according to the website;
"De la Estancia polenta is unique among all the polentas because it cooks faster than the instant variety and is more flexible than the hard polenta found in the tube variety but de la Estancia polenta is NOT pre-cooked, processed or treated in any way. It is a completely natural product that cooks quickly because the corn that grows in Argentina is different than the corn grown in Europe and the United States and results in a superior polenta.
Argentine corn is a sub-tropical variety of orange/yellow corn, called flint corn, which is not successfully grown in the Northern Hemisphere. Flint corn requires a much longer growing season - up to 7 months in the field including a period of natural drying in the sun, nearly twice as long as the corn grown in North America or Europe. It also benefits from the cool nights found in the foothills of the Andes Mountains. Of course the yield of flint corn is substantially less than for common corn but lower quantity is a small price to pay for higher quality.
The physical characteristics of flint corn are different from ordinary corn? Flint corn is harder, has a higher protein content, has less starch and yields a product which is more intensely yellow in color. The hardness of the kernels is fundamental because it allows us to more closely control the milling process and we can obtain a finer grind of polenta. This in turn results in the polenta being smoother and creamier. The low starch level also means that the polenta is less gluey. The grind and the low starch level mean that de la Estancia polenta cooks much faster than traditional polenta - de la Estancia polenta cooks in just 1 minute. It simply cooks fast naturally."
The recipe printed on the bag was 1 cup polenta, 3 cups Chicken Stock, and grated cheese. I don't remember the amount because I didn't pay attention to that. I added my own amount of grated Romano. I also added butter. I mean come on.. it's polenta. It needs butter and tons of cheese, right!?

Before starting the polenta because that is one of the last things you should do when making this dinner, heat your oven to 375 degrees, and an oven safe skillet until it's very hot. Cast iron is always the best. Once your skillet is really hot put your steak in it. It should make a loud sizzle. If not, you didn't heat it enough. Let that sit without touching it for about 3-5 minutes until you have a nice brown caramalization. Flip the steak and put the pan in the oven. Depending on thickness and the desired doneness you like it should be in the oven for about 10 minutes to be medium. When done to your liking, take the meat out of the oven, off the pan and let it rest on a cutting bored for about 5-10 minutes.

In the meantime, start the stock simmering for the polenta. Also at this time you can make a nice pan gravy. Put the skillet you had the steak in and put it over medium heat on the stove. Add a little flour and mix it with the pan drippings. Once they are combined pour in a little beef stock and whisk. It's not to important how much stock you add. It depends on how think you would like the gravy.
The Chicken stock for the polenta should be simmering now. Add the polenta and stir for about a minute. It will get nice and thick. Thats when you can add butter and cheese to your desired taste. I also added a little salt.

It seems like a lot of work, but it's all really easy. Don't be scared.
At this point I chose to make a little bit of an Arugula salad with a simple lemon and olive oil dressing just to add a little acid to cut through the richness of the meat and Polenta.
Now slice the meat and plate.
I chose to layer my dish, but you can plate it anyway you want. I love to be able to cut through and get everything on my fork at once!
This is perfect for a cozy night in alone, or even if you want to make something that looks fancy for a date.

I hope you enjoy this one. It really hit the spot for me!


Anonymous said…
Amazing. Sounds delicious.

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