Saturday, April 10, 2010

Home Alone

Last Saturday, I skillfully avoided going to something called "Saddle Up."  Saddle Up, at least the impression I had, involved a variety of hillbillies, hilljacks, other such hill people, every jackass in a frat from miles around who finally found an excuse to wear both flanel and a cowboy hat without being mercilessly ridiculed, and a mechanical bull.  Needless to say, I was not going to go to Saddle Up.

Instead, I bought myself a New York Strip Steak from August Grocery Store (1500 W. Diversey,  I was kind of excited about August Grocery since I read that they are friendly people who teach cooking classes.  I could assuredly have gone to a closer meat shop, but I wanted to get the feel for August Grocery since I was interested in taking a cooking class there.

When I walked in, I saw the fresh produce on the table immediately in front of me, some pre-prepared food on the shelves on both the right and left, and a small meat counter directly ahead of me (the fish counter was a little farther back).  However, I didn't notice any customers, so I figured I would have a good chance to talk to the workers to see how this place works (and pick up some steaks).  I approached the meat counter to examine the wares.  I think I came in too close to closing time to get a good impression of their full product offering, but what they did have looked very fresh with good marbling.  I decided what I wanted and looked up at the workers to signal that I was ready to make my choice.  Strangely, they did not respond.  I stood there, semi-baffled, that I had apparently worn my invisibility cloak that day without realizing it.  What?  You say invisibility cloaks don't exist?  That's right, these people must have just been unhelpful (since they clearly had no other customers).  I stood there slack-jawed (maybe I did belong at Saddle Up) at their apparent lack of attention.  Eventually after 7-8 minutes of me staring intensely at them, someone approached and got me my steak.  As you could probably guess, I didn't bother asking them about cooking classes or anything else since I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to ever come back.  I walked my steak over to the cashier and she rung me up for a total of $63.  I questioned this absurd price, and she simply repeated that it was $63.  I think she sensed from the dumbfounded look on my face that something was amiss (and the fact that I only bought a little steak).  Eventually she corrected the price to what it should have been.  August Grocery, I will not be returing to you.  I'm also not going to tell you about the typo on your website, so take that!

I returned home with my steak, and since I was going to be home alone, I could make anything that I wanted.  The possibilities were boundless.  Since I never get to eat bernaise sauce normally, I decided that I was going to make that.  I haven't made bernaise sauce since Christmas 2008, so I was excited t do it again.  Bernaise is one of the most satisfying sauces to make since it requires just the right touch (even over a double boiler) to make it perfect.  If you do it too long, the eggs scramble and its ruined, if you do it for too short, its too liquidy and not good.

I made it as well as I ever had, so I was very pleased with myself.  I should have used juice from actual lemons though, instead of ReaLemon, but it was late and I was tired so I didn't want to go to Jewel to get a lemon.  The consistency was perfect, but it was fake sour, so it wasn't quite where it should have been.  Anyway, here's how I did it.

1 tspn fresh tarragon leaves
1 tspn white wine vinegar
1 shallot, finely diced
black pepper
3 egg yolks
1.5 egg shells full of water
4 tbsp butter, melted
lemon juice
kosher salt

1.  Bring the water of a double boiler to a boil and put the top pot on it.  You can use a saucepan with sloped sides if you want, but you really need to be careful about scrambling the eggs if you do it without a double boiler.

2.  Put the shallots, tarragon leaves, vinegar, and  a few grinds of black pepper in the pot.  Gently stir around until the vinegar has mostly evaporated.

3.  Put in the eggs and the water (for each egg you use, you should take half of the egg shell, fill it with water, and pour it in).  Whisk constantly until it thickens up to the consistency of mayonnaise about 4-5 minutes)

4.  Remove from heat and whisk in the butter.  Season to taste with lemon juice and kosher salt.  You should serve this sauce relatively quickly so that it does not "break." 

5.  Cook the steak however you prefer and spoon some of the sauce on top.  I'm a pretty big fan of bernaise sauce, so I heap it on heavily, but you can do whatever you want.

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