I believe there's a culinary answer to almost all of life’s problems.
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I’m not talking federal deficit, Af-Pak, bed-bugs-taking-over-Manhattan (or at least expensive suitcase stores within) problems. More like, I don’t like my office chair, my 11-year-old just told me she “hates living here and there is zero chance it will get better” and as it turns out I’m out of dish soap and I just glanced up and saw a mouse run across my kitchen floor sort of problems.
The sort that really have no practical solution, nor legislative response. The sort you eat through.
For some, comfort might rest in the form of warm, crusty bread. Others take their peace from macaroni, or Mughlai biryani. High or low is of no consequence, or at least a highly flexible construct: a friend who has dined at all of the best restaurants in New York is a sucker for microwavable chicken wings; the aforementioned 11-year-old is as addicted to Humboldt Fog cheese and Utz salt-and-vinegar chips.
Me, I like a nice steak. I love the ease of it, of course, especially at the end of a bad day. Further, I am inexplicably nuts for the smells and sounds of a nice piece of beef crackling inside my oven. Maybe it reminds me of childhood –- mom and dad were not great cooks but they did have a way with meat, seasoned with Morton salt and served on a chrome-and-glass coffee table in front of "The Bob Newhart Show."
Or maybe it's because I know my Texan husband will always smile when his plate o’ steak is plopped before him, a small reward for living with the likes of me, who is prone to bouts of crying over the fact that I cannot find the blade of my mandoline.
Now many of you (except the vegetarians, who have already left me to go back to cutting up onions or thinking deep thoughts about acorn squash) are probably saying, "Um, Jenny I don’t need anyone to tell me how to make a good steak. Buy good meat, salt and pepper it up, salt it some more and don’t overcook it."
Yes, you’re right, and that’s fine.
But there is something special about the combination of garlic salt and dry mustard rubbed onto your meat, a little extra burst of complexity in the tender bites of a properly-cooked meal. I skipped the seasoning salt, because I don’t own any, and I think you can, too, but be sure to use just as much mustard as our author suggests to get the full effect.
I made this twice and the first time used less pepper which I think is right; 4 teaspoons was bit much for my taste and overpowered the other flavors.
Here is something else: this recipe worked even better on my less expensive New York strip steaks that I picked up at Trader Joe’s than the grass fed babies I purchased a week later.
Does this simply mean fun seasoning can compensate for lesser steaks? Or that even our most intense investments in the flavor superiority of better meat is no match for the tang of mustard? I don’t know. I don’t care much either. I just know it worked for me.
2 New York strip steaks, 2 1/2 inch thick, trimmed
2 tablespoons powdered mustard
2 teaspoons powdered garlic
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons seasoning salt
4 teaspoons coarsely ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Let the steaks come to room temperature (if cold) and heat the broiler. Make sure the rack is set so that the steaks are about 8 inches from the broiler.
2. Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon powdered mustard on each side of each steak; press in.
3. Sprinkle each side of steak with: 1/2 teaspoon powdered garlic; 1/2 teaspoon salt; 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt and 1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper. Press the spices into the meat.
4. Broil the steaks approximately 8-10 minutes per side for medium rare. Reduce the oven heat to 500 degrees. Set the steaks on the middle rack and let cook an additional 5-6 minutes.
5. Remove the steaks from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes; then slice on the diagonal and serve. Great with garlic green beans and mashed potatoes.
By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).