Who wants a thick porterhouse steak covered in barbecue sauce, with sweet potato fries and a bacon blue cheese side salad? Maybe a nice glass of merlot to go along with it? Anyone?
Ah, the dinner party. Food, drinks, friends, usually music, lots of laughter. It’s not the usual activity associated with college’s beer-soaked, late-night binges, but there’s something special about creating and consuming a delicious meal. Some of our best memories have to do with sitting around a dinner table, feeling deliciously full and slightly drunk, listening to our friends. And the great thing about dinner parties is that after you eat and drink, the rest of the parties are just getting started. It’s more civilized then Gourmet Special #3 (although that is tasty) or a burrito from the Burrito Man (although he is fun). Or the mystery stew at the dining halls. And much, much more fun.
Cooking at Yale doesn’t garner much attention. Well, maybe in the case of what the cafeteria “cooked” tonight, which is really more a case of what did the cafeteria “assembled” tonight. And sure, lots of attention is given to food: to how much you just ate, how hungry you are, how Claire’s cake and Yorkside pizza are to blame for those extra couple of pounds you’re carrying around. But how many people can really prepare themselves a delicious dinner after a long day at classes, or a gourmet late night snack after those nights of cramming? It’s truly surprising how few people know how to cook, even though it’s such an important skill.
Now we understand that most people live on-campus, where access to a full kitchen is tough, so your best bet is to be really nice — perhaps even bribe those you know who live off-campus. These people have beautiful, full kitchens that cry out, “Please throw a dinner party!”
Yet a lot of people who live off-campus don’t have any idea how to make anything beyond Easy Mac. Seared ahi tuna, chocolate mousse, rosemary chicken with roasted potatoes — delicious, but simply uncommon.
The purpose of this article is to outline how to throw a dinner party. We’ll cover everything, step by step, to show that cooking a delicious dinner is not only fun, but it’s also actually pretty easy once you know how to do it. This week we’re going to make a surprisingly simple dinner of steak with sweet potato fries. Enjoy!
Barbecue Steak, Sweet Potato Fries and Bacon Blue Cheese Side Salad
Ingredients (for six people):
6 Steaks — filets for smaller eaters, porterhouse if you’re got the football team coming over
Salt, Pepper (We prefer sea salt as it brings out more flavor.)
3 Cloves Garlic, minced (A.k.a. cut really tiny. Better yet, get a mincer that’ll do it for you.
4 Sweet Potatoes — cut into long, thin strips (technical term: julienned). Leave the skin on — it has a more “rustic” flavor and it saves you a lot of work.
5 tbsp. Olive Oil
Bag of mixed greens (No spinach, unless you want E. coli. And maybe you do.)
1 Pack Bacon
I Pack Blue Cheese
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/8 cup Balsamic Vinegar
3 tbsp. each Rosemary, Sage,
Thyme — fresh-cut or dried.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Rub salt and garlic into both sides of the steak. Cover, place in fridge.
Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil on top. Sprinkle salt over. Put in oven for 45 minutes, checking occasionally and turning over at least twice.
Heat a frying pan on stove-top. Place bacon into pan, cook, turning with a fork. (Bacon fat spits at you when it’s too hot, so make sure the burner is on a medium-high setting, otherwise you may get burned.)
When bacon is cooked (approx. 5-10 minutes), remove from pan, pat dry with paper towel, and set aside.
Assemble mixed greens in a large salad bowl. Crumble bacon and blue cheese into bowl. Add rosemary, sage and thyme. If you have leftover bacon, put it in a zip-lock bag and keep it for the future. Once it’s made, it’s a quick and delicious addition to any salad or breakfast.
With approx. 15 minutes left before sweet potatoes are done, turn oven setting to broil and put fries to the bottom level of the oven.
Place marinated steaks on a broiling pan, put in oven. Leave oven door open slightly. Let cook 5-7 minutes each side for a medium-rare steak. If you want your steak well done, leave it in for longer. If you want it rare, take it out sooner. (It’s important to only turn the steak once, if possible. That allows the juices, and thus flavor, to stay in the meat, and it will taste better.)
While steaks are broiling, pour olive oil and balsamic over salad. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
Take steaks and sweet potatoes out of oven and serve. Optional: Ketchup goes well with both sweet potatoes and steak, so it’s a nice way to combine the flavors.
This meal goes well with a full-bodied red wine such as a cabernet or a merlot. If you’re unsure as to which brand to try out, I suggest Yellow Tail; it’s cheap and easy to drink. Also, you can always ask the salesperson at the liquor store, because they’ll have some good recommendations. Of course, this only applies to people over 21, because if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be drinking.
All of these items can be bought at Shaw’s, but if you have a car and the time, go to the Stop-n-Shop on Whitney Avenue in Hamden, which has a much better selection and quality of produce, especially meats.