Sunday, June 3, 2012

Understanding Spices: What Does Thyme Taste Like? Dutch Oven Minute Steak

This is an adaptation of Alton Brown's Country Style Steak. It is my impatient version. This kind of steak has so many names it is ridiculous. At my house, we call them minute steaks. My store calls them cubed steaks. A good friend of mine called them "poor man's" steaks growing up. Alton calls them country style steak. Several people I know several people who call them country fried steaks. ...And there are more names!...In fact, the name on my recipe card does not match what I have titled this post. :)

Here is where Mr. Brown and I differ. He prefers tenderizing the meat himself. I buy the pre-tenderized stuff. This is what it looks like in my grocery store.

In cooking, patience is a virtue, not a requirement.

Step One: Season the meat with salt and pepper. If you really like salt (like me), season both sides.

I hear what Emeril always said on his show, "Where I buy my meat, it don't come seasoned."

Seasoning can make all the difference.  

Here is a picture of "the setup." Seasoned meat on one side, flour on the other a paper plate...because that is how I roll.

Step Two: Press the minute steak into the flour.

Look closely, everyone. My hand looks "normal" in this picture. They usually look super pink. Part of that is because I am part Cherokee (or so I am told), and the other part is because I wash my hands in hot water all the time. You'd think I would stop doing that...

Step Three: Flip the steak over, and press into the flour on the other side.

Here is setup picture #2. The steaks are ready to go on the right. The oil is heating up to med-high heat in the Dutch oven in the middle. There is a plate waiting to receive steaks on the left. Good. to. go.

Have I told you how much I love my Dutch oven lately? You should hug your Dutch oven. You should tell it how much you love it. ...But don't do that while it is hot! Do that before you heat up the oil in it. It needs your love.

(Did that make anyone else flash back to the MASH episode where they diffuse a bomb? You know, Henry reads the instructions to Hawkeye and Trapper from behind sandbags. He tells them to "carefully cut the wires," and they do. Then, Henry, in his infinite wisdom, says, "But first..." hahahaha. The bomb explodes. It is funny because it is a propoganda bomb.) Sorry, I'll try not to make anymore "But first..." statements.

Step Four: Fry the steaks. When your oil is nice and hot, add one or two steaks. You should hear a nice sizzling sound when you put it/them in.

I can usually get two in my Dutch oven, but these steaks were unusually large this time so only one went in at a time.

How I know when to flip the steaks: When you see red liquid pushing through the top like this, it is time to flip your steaks.

I know that the red liquid has a name (it is not blood) from Picture the Recipe's blog, but I don't remember what it is called...I guess I could look it up...but that would be too easy.  

Look how pretty and brown and crunchy-looking that crust looks...mmmm...

How to know when to remove the steaks: Ok, so in this recipe, you are not cooking this one for doneness at this point in the recipe. When you see that red liquid push through the top again, take out your steak.

Pretty. I am ignoring the red stuff. :)

Continue cooking and removing the steaks to a plate until all are cooked.

I love this picture. I call it "Pile 'o Minute Steaks."

SO, if I followed Mr. Brown's recipe, I probably would not have burnt flour in the bottom of my Dutch oven.

I am too impatient, though.

And, this is easy to fix :).

Step Five: Get rid of all the oil and blackened flour - if you have any. :)

Don't worry if you have a little left in the bottom. Your steaks will not have a burned taste with such a little bit.

Step Six: Return the Dutch oven to med-high heat. Add chicken broth and thyme to the Dutch oven. I usually add 1/2 t. thyme these days because it can take over the dish. However, I used to add 1 t. thyme. If you add the entire teaspoon, you will get a very clear sense of what thyme tastes like.

If you didn't have burned stuff on the bottom, stir to get the browned bits off the bottom. Brown bits are gooood. Blackened bits are not.
...and bring to boil. When it looks foamy like this, it is boiling enough.

I would just like to say that I feel like Rachael Ray would be proud of my impatience.

Step Seven: Add the steaks back to the liquid.

Try to cover them with the liquid, but if they don't get completely covered, don't worry about it.

Step Eight: Put the cover on your Dutch oven, and then put it in the oven for two hours. You can forget about it for two whole hours. Hooray! My favorite.

I cover the top of my lid with aluminum because it is made of some kind of plastic that smells funny in the oven. The aluminum protects me from the funny smell. :)

When you take it out...and take off the cover, they look like this.

And when you pick them up, they fall to pieces because they are that tender. Yummmmm...

Pictured here are the minute steaks with a Rocket Roll and Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes. When I post those, I will link those up to this post :).

Pretend this is yours...

...ok, now go make your own!

Dutch Oven Minute Steaks
Click for printable version
1 - 1 1/2 lb minute steaks
1/2 - 1 t. thyme
2 c. chicken broth

canola oil

Season minute steaks with salt and pepper, and then dredge in flour. Put just enough oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven to cover the bottom, and heat over med-high heat. Brown the steaks on both sides in batches. Drain excess oil. Return the Dutch oven to med-high heat. Add chicken broth and thyme, and bring to a boil. Add steaks to the broth. Cover, and bake in a 300 degree oven for 2 hours.
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