Valentine’s Dinner: Pendleton Whiskey Steak, Roasted Shallot Aioli, and Creamy Mashed Potatoes

The crowded restaurants on Valentine’s Day are so not romantic- so why, oh why, do reservations become scarce and couples flock to nearby eateries? I simply do not understand it.  We spent our Saturday dinner at home (we did go to the ballet after dinner, so I guess I shouldn’t be giving people too much flack for going out on Valentine’s!)  Since Valentine’s was on a weekend this year, I figured I may as well take my time and try out some new recipes, and let me tell you- this meal is full of keepers! I found the recipe for the steak and aioli here but I will list them below as well.  The mashed potatoes were made up but seriously, I think I will always make them this way from now on.  There is a secret ingredient that makes them super creamy and flavorful (hint: it may involve cheese…)

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Pendleton Whiskey Steak
2 10-12 oz strip loin steaks or T-bone
1 tablespoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon clarified butter or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
1 cup Pendleton Whisky
2 tablespoons whole butter, unsalted

Trim all excess fat and sinew from meat. Run whole pepper through a pepper mill for a fresh cracked pepper flavor and place in a shallow dish. Salt the steaks lightly on each side, then press each side into the cracked pepper to create a pepper crust. Heat pan to high on stove top. When pan is hot, add butter or oil. Sear the steak, flipping after one and a half minutes. Steak should be dark brown on the outside. At this point, the whole pan can go into the oven (make sure pan handle is heat-resistant). Cook in the oven at 350 degrees for 2-5 minutes, depending upon the desired temp/finish (rare, med-rare, med, well, etc). Use meat thermometer if necessary. Take out of the oven and remove the steaks from the pan. Let them rest for 5 minutes. While the meat is resting, add shallots to the pan and sauté briefly, de-glaze the pan with Whisky, careful to add whisky away from open flame and be prepared when returning pan to flame in case of a flare up (mine has never done this, but be aware). Reduce until almost dry and finish sauce by melting butter into it. Don’t let the sauce simmer after butter has been aded or it will separate. Optional: slice steak on a bias and fan out or serve as is. Pour whisky sauce over the top. Drizzle the roasted shallot aioli over steak (see recipe below – very simple, worth it!)

Roasted Shallot Aioli
2-3 shallots
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon horseradish
1 tablespoon chef’s salt (mixture of salt, pepper and spices, usually paprika and powdered garlic) I used Johnny’s Seasoning Salt

Roast shallots in a 325 degree oven. How? Peel and trim to the same size and toss with a little olive oil, pepper and fresh herbs. Place on a piece of aluminum foil into a pillow and roast in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and puree shallots in food processor. Add egg yolks, sour cream, horseradish and chef’s salt. Quickly mix these ingredients. With machine running slowly, drizzle in the oil until it is all incorporated.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes
4 large red potatoes, skins left on
5 cups water with 2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 cup milk
1 5.2 ounce package Boursin cheese (I used the Garlic and Fine Herbs kind)

Roughly chop the potatoes and boil in the salted water until tender. Drain water and mash potatoes with masher or use mixer. Add milk and cheese and mix until incorporated. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

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