I have made this several times over the past years from the always reliable The New Basics. It’s a nice main dish for a crowd that you can make ahead of time. Our Christmas Eve theme was “stuffed” so this was perfect.
Italian Stuffed Flank Steak
The New Basics Cookbook, Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins
8 ounces fresh spinach, trimmed and well rinsed
1/c cup dried bread crumbs
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
3 red bell peppers, roasted
1 flank steak (about 1 ½ pounds), butterflied
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
1 fresh hot cherry pepper, cored, seeded, and minced
1. Preheat the over to 350°F.
2. Place the spinach in a saucepan with just the water that clings to the leaves. Cover, and cook over medium heat until wilted, 5 minutes. Drain in a colander, and press out the excess moisture with the back of a spoon.
3. Combine spinach, bread crumbs, Parmesan, olive oil, and garlic in a food processor and puree until thick and smooth. Transfer to a bowl.
4. Peel, core, and carefully seed the roasted peppers. Cut them in half.
5. Open the steak on a work surface, and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the prosciutto in one layer on the steak. Top with a layer of the roasted peppers. Then spread the spinach mixture over them, and sprinkle with the minced cherry pepper.
6. Starting with a long side, roll the steak up jelly-roll style. Tie it with string at 2-inch intervals, and brush with a little olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place steak in a shallow baking pan.
7. Bake 40 minutes for medium-rare. Cool slightly, or to room temperature, before slicing and serving.
4 to 6 portions
For Christmas Eve we also had stuffed shells, little twice baked potatoes, stuffed cabbage, roasted vegetables. Of course we had to have hanky pankies, made a nice smoked salmon spread, cheese and crackers and Sean made some nice bacon wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese. Kirsten made cream puffs for dessert and Sophia dazzled all with her spectacular macarons that no one can get enough of.
French onion soup is definitely the perfect solution for being holed up on a snowy weekend. This soup is so easy to make and tastes so good when you use good ingredients. I followed Deb’s recipe on smittenkitchen.com, which is pretty much similar to other recipes but with a few extra details like most of her recipes. Caramelizing the onions for a long time and using Gruyere cheese produces a first rate product.
I pretty much followed the recipe below except I didn’t add the raw onion and the cognac at the end. It turned out perfectly.
1 1/2 pounds (680 grams or 24 ounces or about 5 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
3 tablespoons (42 grams or 1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt, plus additional to taste
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) granulated sugar (helps the onions to brown)
3 tablespoons (24 grams or 7/8 ounce) all-purpose flour
2 quarts (8 cups or 1.9 liters) beef or other brown stock*
1/2 cup (118 ml) dry white wine or dry white vermouth
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons (45 ml) cognac or brandy (optional)
To finish [Gratinée] (Optional)
1 tablespoon grated raw onion
1 to 2 cups (to taste) grated Swiss (I often use Gruyere) or a mixture of Swiss and Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter, melted
12 to 16 1-inch thick rounds French bread, toasted until hard
Melt the butter and oil together in the bottom of a 4- to 5-quart saucepan or Dutch oven over moderately low heat. Add the onions, toss to coat them in oil and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to real low and let them slowly steep for 15 minutes. They don’t need your attention; you can even go check your email.
After 15 minutes, uncover the pot, raise the heat slightly and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook onions, stirring frequently, for 30 to 40 minutes until they have turned an even, deep golden brown. Don’t skimp on this step, as it will build the complex and intense flavor base that will carry the rest of the soup. Plus, from here on out, it will be a cinch.
After the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle them with flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the wine in full, then stock, a little at a time, stirring between additions. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 more minutes, skimming if needed. Correct seasonings if needed but go easy on the salt as the cheese will add a bit more saltiness and I often accidentally overdo it. Stir in the cognac, if using. I think you should.
Set aside until needed. I find that homemade onion soup is so deeply fragrant and flavor-rich that it can stand alone, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the graitinéed top once in a while. Here’s how to pull it off:
Preheat oven to 325. Arrange six ovenproof soup bowls or crocks on a large, foil-lined baking sheet. Bring the soup back to a boil and divide among six bowls. To each bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon grated raw onion and a tablespoon of grated cheese. Stir to combine. Dab your croutons with a tiny bit of butter and float a few on top of your soup bowls, attempting to cover it. Mound grated cheese on top of it; how much you use will be up to you. [Julia Child, in another era, felt that 1/2 cup of grated cheese could be divided among 6 bowls. I can assure you that if you’d like your gooey bubbling cheese lid to be anything like what you get at your local French restaurant, you are looking to use more, such as a generous 1/4 cup.]
Bake soups on tray for 20 minutes, then preheat broiler. Finish for a minute or two under the broiler to brown the top lightly. Grab pot holders, and serve immediately.
* Porcini or mushroom stock are a robust vegetarian substitution.
2 pounds lean top round, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large sweet onions, diced
2 cups large chunks of celery
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into large rounds
1 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 cups dry red wine
4 large tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes (such as Red Bliss), cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1 quart beef stock
2 cups tomato sauce
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook beef in batches in hot oil until browned completely, about 5 minutes per batch. Remove browned beef cubes to a plate lined with paper towels, keeping skillet over heat and retaining the beef drippings.
Cook and stir onion, celery, and carrots in the retained beef drippings until just softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir mushrooms and garlic into the onion mixture.
Pour red wine into the pan; bring to a boil while scraping the browned bits of food off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Continue cooking the mixture until the wine evaporates, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir tomatoes into the mixture.
Return beef to skillet with potatoes, basil, thyme, marjoram, and sage. Pour beef stock and tomato sauce over the mixture. Bring the liquid to a simmer.
Reduce heat to low and simmer until the beef is very tender and the sauce is thick, 4 to 6 hours.
Heat oil in heavy pan. Brown beef on all sides, in batches. Transfer beef to bowl and set aside.
Decrease heat to medium, add onion and parsley, cook until onion golden, 10 min. Stir in garlic, bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, allspice.
Return beef to pan with onion mixture. Add red wine and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Simmer 15 min. Add beef stock and simmer 10 min. Add tomatoes with juices. Add olives, rosemary. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook beef until tender, stirring occasionally, 1 ½ hrs. Add bell peppers, cover and cook until tender, 15min. Season to taste with salt, pepper.
Serve over rice, couscous or polenta (polenta is excellent!)