Sunday, October 12, 2008

Not One, Not Two, But Three Truly Sensational

Secrets Revealed On "Restaurant Chef "
Plus To Mandolin Or Not To Mandolin

Secrets Of a Restaurant Chef with Anne Burrell

The Secret to Steak
Dry-Rubbed Rib-Eye
Pommes Chef Anne
Sautéed Broccoli Rabe

A new season of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef starts with a bang. Anne says steak has a real wow factor and she’s going to show us her super secret flavor weapon. She’s also doing an easy-to-make Pommes Anna and “sexy” broccoli rabe. Okay, she’s got me, I’ll watch.

BTW, have you noticed that she says her name like “Amber Rell”?

Anne’s not a huge red meat eater, but when she wants it, she wants it. She’s mixes together a dry rub of 3 tablespoons salt and 2 tablespoons brown sugar. She grinds 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper in a coffee grinder until it’s a powder and mixes that in. She adds 1 teaspoon garlic powder.

(I strongly dislike garlic powder, but the garlic would burn if she used fresh, so in a rub-type thing which will be cooked over high heat is the only time I use it.) Lastly, she mixes in a little pimentón – smoked paprika. Anne says you can leave the spice mixture in the fridge and have it ready to use any time.

Anne tells us that rib eye steak is a “lovely knot of meat”, which is very fatty. But because the meat is next to the bone, it’s “juicy and meaty flavored”. She rubs the spice mixture all over the steaks to make it “super special”. The salt and sugar start to “cure” the outside of the meat and pull out the juices.

She wraps them in 2 layers of plastic wrap and lets them hang out for 3 days. Wow! Anne tells us even a day makes them good. I sure hope they go into the fridge. Good, they do. She bids them farewell. “See you in a couple days, honeys.”

One of her favorite greens is broccoli rabe. She has a long history with it, but she doesn’t share any outlandish stories. She gets rid of any yellow flowers and cuts off a lot of the stem. She blanches it in REALLY salty water and then will sauté it. I’m happy, this is exactly how I cook broccoli rabe (and many other greens).

Next, Chef Anne salts the ice water. Yup, you heard it right. She SALTS the water that she’ll plunge the cooked rabe into. I have NEVER seen that, heard of it or thought about that before. That’s brilliant. She’s just cooked the broccoli in tons of salt to flavor it and, of course, sitting it in a bowl of plain water would dilute and diminish that effect. The salty ice water gives you another opportunity to get flavor into the vegetable.

That doesn’t make it incredibly salty, by the way. If you don’t add any salt at any point, then you often find that you need to add tons of salt at the table and actually use MORE.

(If you need to limit your salt, disregard the salty water and just use boatloads of garlic in the next step and lots of pepper…which, okay, we should all probably be doing anyway or at least part of the time.) Anne reminds us that she blanches the broccoli rabe to get rid of the bitterness and shocks it to keep the green color.

She moves on to her self-titled Pommes Chef Anne, her version of Pommes Anna. She starts with russet potatoes, which she says are good and starchy. She readies the other ingredients -“It’s not easy being cheesy.”

New Food Network website note: It’s quite annoying that ALL the recipes for a given show are not listed on the bottom of EACH show’s recipes anymore. There’s a link for Recipes From This Episode on the side of the page (good luck finding it) or you have to go back to the main page of the episode to find a complete link list of the recipes. How dumb!

Anne greases a non-stick 8 inch frying pan. She slices her potatoes super thin on a mandolin.

I’m quite conflicted when confronted with the question of whether every cook should have one. I know mandolin owners couldn’t live without them and, of course, they do a superb job at slicing things infinitesimally thin. BUT the question is should you buy a mandolin if you don’t have one?

I’ve asked and answered that with an ice cream machine. (Yes, enthusiastically, yes, an ice cream machine is a wonderful addition to your kitchen.)

Upon reflection, I would say that if you found yourself wishing you had a mandolin time after time, then, yes, I would start saving my pennies.

I bought one years ago, it was defective, I took it back and I never bought one again. But if one landed on my doorstop, I would definitely use it. THAT IS NOT A HINT. I’m just saying Pommes Chef Anne is the first recipe I’ve seen in a while, where I’ve thought it would be nice to have one.

Anne lays the first layer of potatoes super neatly in the pan, because the bottom will become the top. One more thing - she doesn’t peel them, which is fine because she’s slicing them so thinly. If you were using a knife, you might want to peel them.

She brushes a little olive oil between the layers, which prevents them from turning brown and sprinkles on lots of cheese. The recipe says to add salt too, but I must have blinked when she did that. Anne presses down the layers as she goes. The last layer gets pressed down really well.

She places the pan on a burner to brown and then into the oven at 425°F for 25 minutes to cook the inside.

Anne preheats the grill for the steaks. She drains the broccoli rabe and squeezes out the excess water.

She gets the steaks out of the fridge and lets them come to room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. (She says that in her restaurant they come out of the fridge as soon as they get an order for a steak.)

Anne scrapes the “crud” off the grill and oils it. She lets the smoke burn off. (Why hadn’t she cleaned it from the last time she cooked something, while it was still hot? Then it would have been ready to go?)

Chef Anne takes out the Pommes Chef Anne. To turn this over, she shows us 2 “super secret” techniques. First, using a pot lid, she presses it against the potatoes and drains off the oil. What an excellent idea.

THEN she uses “the motion of the ocean” and swings the pan back and forth to loosen the potatoes. She covers the pan with the lid and she unmolds the potato cake onto the underside of the lid. That is a tremendously good idea.

That’s why she really pushed those potato layers down as she was assembling it, Anne says, so they would stay together. The starch from the russets helps them do that.

These are 2 FANTASTIC IDEAS. Using a pot lid to drain the oil out of a sauté pan, no matter what you’re cooking, is a great idea. And using the pot lid, instead of a plate, when flipping it is almost life-changing, especially if you make a lot of Spanish Tortillas or Pommes Annas. Why? Because the pot lid can get a lot closer and tighter to the sauté pan than a plate can and it’s easy to slide it back into the pan (or onto a serving plate) from the lid without destroying the shape.

Anne slides it back into the pan and presses it down again and places it back in the oven to brown the bottom.

Anne puts the room temperature steaks on a hot spot on the grill to get a good char on the outside. She says you don’t need to season them again. If you like them more done than medium rare, move them to a cooler place on the grill and cook them low and slow.

She gets a pan ready for the broccoli rabe. She “perfumes” some olive oil with garlic and crushed red pepper, always starting the garlic and oil in a cold pan and then cooking them on low heat. (That’s a Nigella tip too.)

She checks the steaks. She’s not concerned about grill marks, because she’s serving it sliced.

Anne says it’s taken her years to learn how to test a steak just by pressing it with her finger. She says it’s okay to make a tiny cut and check the doneness. The more you cook protein the more it firms up, she says. “The more rare a steak is, the more loosely goosey it is”.

Anne lets the steaks rest to the “redistribute” juices. She takes out the Pommes Anne and drains off the excess oil (using the pot lid). She removes it from the pan and also lets that rest before cutting it.

Chef Anne removes the garlic from the oil, since it will have “fulfilled its garlic destiny.” She raises the heat on the oil and adds the broccoli rabe and salt. When it’s hot, she leaves it on a low heat for a second while she cuts a wedge out of the potato cake.

She puts the starch onto the plate first, because it holds its temperature better than the broccoli rabe or steak… I didn’t know that.

She cuts the steak off the bone and slices it. She puts the broccoli rabe on the plate and the “big money” item - the steak - goes on top to show it off.

Interestingly, Anne leaves a lot of meat on the bone and puts the bone on the plate too! She finishes with a drizzle of olive oil. She tastes the juicy, delicious steak and loves it all. She “has done some good work today.”

I agree. I’m happy if I can sit through a half hour and learn one little new thing. Chef Anne shared three cooking-changing ideas that I’m thrilled to add my arsenal. Four, if you count the load-the-potatoes-onto-the-plate-first idea.


Nikki said...

I have yet to see "Amber Rell"'s show, but I love my mandolin. I don't know where I'd be without it. It's funny that you bought one that was defective, because I bought one...and there was nothing in the box. It's plastic, so I didn't think anything of it's light weight. I opened the box and only the instruction booklet and extra blade pieces were in there. I cried to the lady at Williams-Sonoma and they gave me a new one. But as much as I love using my knives to slice, the mandolin does better than I ever could for thin items.

jackiecat said...

Missed the show, darn! Thanks Sue for the recap.

Emiline said...

I got a few tips from Sandra Lee the other day. I learned how to make a golf tablescape.

I still haven't learned to used a mandolin - call me old fashioned, I guess. I usually mince my garlic by hand, too. I like to chop things.

I'm going to try the lid trick.

Anonymous said...

The pot lid draining tip is right out of Julia Child -- I made her Pommes Anna recipe a few years ago and she recommended doing that. And I thought I had invented the flip onto the lid trick since I've been doing it for years, it really makes things easier (much simpler to hold the lid by the handle than a plate by the rim).

Sue said...

Hi Nikki,
Williams-Sonoma is good that way.

I guess mandolins are essential in a professional kitchen and there’s no other way to get perfect paper thin slices. Oh, gosh, am I talking myself into one?

Hey Jackie,
My pleasure!

I sure hope you're making A LOT of kitschy cocktails to go with that beautiful golfscape.

I have a feeling that once you used a mandolin, you'd never go back.

Go flip your lid.

You are one smart cookie. I just checked Volume 2 of Mastering and, yup, there it is! And the unmolding onto the pot lid is ingenious! What other great tips do you have?

outdoorgriller said...

Those are some good secrets to cooking if you need more recipes for the grill or if you wanted to take a look at the collection of tips I have for the grill you can visit

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I still haven't watched this show. It certainly sounds interesting and it sounds like I could actually learn something and use the recipes provided.

I LOVE my mandolin. I am so bad with a knife. I just get lazy part of the way through and my cutting gets sloppy. I don't have much patience.

I do regret missing that golf tablescape show that Em saw.

Michelle said...

Just catching up on some of your more recent posts. I just posted my thoughts on a mandolin after cashing in some bank card rewards points to get one. Now, I got one of the plastic do-hickey-jobs that I'm still getting used to... One day I'll be able to afford a higher-end model. :)

Spicy BBQ French Fries

Tracy said...

I like Amber Rell too!

I bought myself a mandolin for Christmas last year. I've used it once or twice. It kinda scares me.