Find fun things to doin the Austin, TX area
Posted: 12:00 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012
Yuca Fries with Creamy Cilantro-Lime Dipping Sauce
Put a pile of crisp, golden, salty, hot yuca fries in front of me and they will disappear in a heartbeat. The nutty, sweet flavor of the flaky interior is wonderful—and almost more interesting than a potato fry. Although the dipping sauce is nontraditional, the combination is completely appealing. I like to whirl the sauce in the blender until it turns pale green, with just specks of cilantro showing. To save time, you can whisk the ingredients together in a bowl.
½ cup sour cream
½ cup minced fresh cilantro
2 tsp. fresh lime juice
Kosher or fine sea salt, divided
1 ½ lb. yuca
3 small dried red chiles such as chile de árbol
About 5 cups peanut, grape seed or vegetable oil for deep-frying
To make the dipping sauce, in a blender, combine the sour cream, cilantro, lime juice and 1/4 tsp. salt and process until puréed. The sauce should turn soft green with dark flecks of cilantro. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve. (The sauce can be made a day in advance.)
Use a heavy chef’s knife to trim off the ends and cut each yuca crosswise into pieces 3 inches long. Stand each piece upright and use a paring knife to cut down between the outer bark and the flesh, removing all of the waxy brown skin and the pinkish layer underneath. Halve the yuca lengthwise. Remove the fibrous central core.
In a large saucepan, bring 8 cups water to a boil over high heat. Add 2 Tbsp. salt and the chiles, then add the yuca. Simmer, uncovered, until tender when pierced with a wooden skewer, about 20 minutes. (Check often for tenderness. The yuca should be cooked through without getting mushy. In my experience, the pieces of yuca cook unevenly, with some turning tender before others. Remove the tender ones with a slotted spoon and drain, continuing to cook the other pieces until done.) Drain the yuca and transfer it to a bowl of ice water. When the yuca is cool, lift it out of the ice water and blot dry with paper towels. Cut the yuca into thick fries about ¾-inch wide.
Line two baking sheets with a double thickness of paper towels. Set a slotted spoon or wire-mesh skimmer alongside the baking sheets. Pour the oil to a depth of 3 inches into a deep, heavy pot, a wok, or an electric deep fryer and heat to 360 degrees on a deep-frying thermometer. Fry the yuca in small batches. Add a handful of fries to the hot oil and fry, stirring once or twice, until they are golden brown, 2 ½ to 3 minutes. (The timing will vary slightly, so look for color first and then sample a fry, testing for a crisp exterior and flaky interior.)
Using the slotted spoon or skimmer, transfer the chips to a prepared baking sheet to remove excess oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Continue frying in small batches until all of the pieces are fried. Make sure the oil is at 360 degrees before you add a new batch. Transfer to a basket or serving bowl and serve hot with the dipping sauce. Serves 4.
— From “Roots: The Definitive Compendium” (Chronicle, $40)
Spinach and Gorgonzola–Stuffed Flank Steak
When stuffed, rolled, and tied, a flank steak can serve as a roast. A relatively low-cost cut, flank gains points for elegance when stuffed with a flavorful cheese and spinach filling. When the meat is sliced, the pretty pinwheels make a great presentation. This is easy enough to put together on a weeknight or for quick entertaining, just make sure you choose a flank steak that is of even thickness throughout to ensure consistent cooking. Don’t tie the roast too tightly. The twine should hold the roast together but not constrict it. You can also use a double-butterfield fillet; a bottom sirloin flap steak (bavette) that has been butterflied and pounded to about 1/ 2 inch thick; or grass-fed flank steak or double-butterflied grass-fed tenderloin. You can ask your butcher to butterfly the steak for you, or do it yourself following the instructions below. Or, if your steak is already very thin, use a meat mallet to pound it thinner.
1 1½- to 2 ½-lb. flank steak, trimmed
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 lb. spinach, washed, stemmed and chopped
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
½ lb. Gorgonzola or other blue cheese, crumbled (can substitute goat or any other soft cheese that suits your fancy)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
To butterfly the steak: Using a long sharp knife, holding it parallel to the work surface, cut through one long side of the steak, stopping about ½ inch from the opposite side. Open up the steak as you would a book. (Don’t worry if you made a hole or two in the meat, because it will be concealed when you roll up the steak.) Or, if the steak is already thin, don’t butterfly it; just pound it with a meat mallet to ¼ to ½ inch thick. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil. Add the shallot and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a strainer.
When it is cool enough to handle, squeeze out all of the moisture from the spinach. You should have about 1 cup of spinach. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the bread crumbs and cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place the steak on a sheet of plastic wrap with a long side of the steak facing you. Smear the spinach mixture evenly over the steak, leaving a 1-inch border along the edge farthest from you. Beginning with the side nearest you and using the plastic wrap as an aid, roll up the steak, gently pressing on the filling, then tie the rolled steak with butcher’s twine at 2- to 3-inch intervals. Season the outside with salt and pepper to taste.
Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large roasting pan or ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the roast on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Place in the oven and roast for 25 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the roast reads 120 degrees (125 degrees for medium-rare). Transfer to a cutting board, tent with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
To serve, remove the string from the steak and cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch-thick slices. Serves 6.
— From “The Great Meat Cookbook” by Bruce Aidells with Anne-Marie Ramo