El Segundo Eats: Valentine’s Day at Home
If dining indoors at your favorite restaurant isn’t an option this Valentine’s Day, cook perfect steaks at home instead.
By Jenifer Antonelli
For the past decade or so, my husband and I have rarely eaten out for dinner on Valentine’s Day. We were content with a simple dinner at home as opposed to making reservations in advance, getting all dolled up, and paying extra for a fancy prix fixe menu.
This year, though, I would love nothing more than to be able to dine in a restaurant (or even outside of a restaurant). What a difference a year makes! While I’m hopeful that some of the current restrictions will be lifted, there is a good chance that we will need to cook ourselves a romantic dinner at home again this year. I really love a classic steakhouse dinner because it’s not something we have that often, but it’s also not that difficult to prepare. Here are some tips for creating a delicious dinner for two at home.
The most important thing to remember is to buy the highest quality of meat you can afford, regardless of your favorite cut. Whether you enjoy a lean filet mignon or a well-marbled ribeye, you can prepare your steaks using the same basic technique. To ensure the most flavorful meat, I like to buy and generously salt the steaks on both sides the day before I plan to cook them. Remove your steaks from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking to help take the chill off the meat. I love to grill steaks outside over an open flame, but it’s still a little cold in February, so I’ll plan on using a cast-iron pan this Valentine’s Day.
Heat the pan over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of butter and swirl the melted butter to coat the pan. Add the steaks and sear until deep golden brown. Once a nice crust develops, flip the steaks and sear on the other side. The cooking time will depend greatly on the thickness of your steaks, so the best way to ensure your meat is cooked to your desired doneness is to use a digital meat thermometer. For medium rare, cook to an internal temperature of 125 degrees. For medium, cook to 145 degrees, and if you like your meat well done, cook until 160 degrees. If your steaks are thicker than one inch, you may need to transfer the pan to a 400-degree oven to finish cooking until they reach your desired doneness. I like to add a couple sprigs of fresh rosemary and another pat of butter toward the end to baste my steaks during the last couple minutes of cooking. Regardless of how pink you like your steaks, let them rest on a cutting board for at least five to ten minutes before slicing or serving them; otherwise, the juices will spill out all over your cutting board and your meat will dry out.
While the steaks are resting, I like to make some garlic mushrooms to serve on the side. Add a pound of cleaned and quartered cremini mushrooms with some salt and pepper to the hot cast iron pan after removing the steaks (and rosemary, if using). Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are golden brown; then add a tablespoon of fresh minced garlic. When the garlic is fragrant, about a minute more, add a splash of dry sherry to the pan. Cook until the sherry boils down, then add another pat of butter for a delicious side dish. Serve your steaks with some roasted asparagus and baked potatoes with butter, sour cream, and chives, and you’ll have a delicious steakhouse dinner for two. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Jenifer Antonelli is the owner of Vino and Viand Personal Chef Services. Visit her online at vinoandviand.com or at @vinoandviand on Facebook and Instagram.