Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It's my steak, I can call it what I want !

Another cold Iowa night, and another excellent reason to break out the Le Creuset dutch oven and experiment. A quick mental inventory of some of the foods on hand, things I'd canned, what I needed to grab at the store and an idea is born.

But first, a little trip to Italy. As I have said before, my mother was born and raised in Germany, and growing up and as a young adult I've spent quite a lot of time in Europe. One of the most beautiful places I've visited is the largest lake in Italy, halfway between Milan and Venice, carved by glaciers in the Alps, the stunning Lago di Garda. 

The northernmost part of the lake is surrounded by the Gruppo del Baldo mountains. The lake has many small islands and five main ones. The lake is fed by the Sarca River, and it's outlet is the Mincio River.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well......because I can! And I am pretending to be Mario Batali because he knows EVERYTHING about the region from which he is cooking. Besides, I have plenty to talk about later when we get to the food.

Another interesting fact about this region is the mild climate. A lot of Mediterranean plants grow there that are extremely rare at the lake's altitude, like olive trees and even citrus in some areas. Tourism in this region is a booming business and if you ever get the chance to go, you'll fall in love.

So the point really has nothing to do with my recipe, other than it's Italian influenced flavors and it's very clever (I think so anyway) name: Steako di Garda. Hahahahahaha I crack myself up sometimes.

Now, let's get to the food.

Ready to go in the oven.

For this recipe you're going to need some pretty simple items. Steak- I chose lean round steak because I am going to slowly braise it but you can use any cut of steak you like that holds up to low and slow cooking. A medium bell pepper. I went with green because I needed the color, but use what you like or have on hand. Half an onion, sliced- and DON'T be one of those sillyheads who fall for that internet malarchy that saving half an onion makes it poisonous. That's a bunch of hooey. Save your other half for something else. A couple garlic cloves, sliced, and you're ready for that part.

You will also need about 2 cups of Italian seasoned tomatoes. I used some from my garden that I had cut up,tossed with Italian seasoning and froze in portions in freezer bags. You can use canned, home canned or store bought, or cut up enough fresh tomatoes to make about 2 cups and add some Italian seasoning. I also used a pint jar that I had canned containing cut up tomatoes, summer squash and zucchini. You can either use more tomatoes or skip it, or add fresh- whatever you have on hand.

I like to cook with as little mess as possible so when I opened my package of steak I flipped the plastic off and set the meat on the plastic and added about 1/2 cup of flour to the other half of the meat package. Disposable dredging station!

Start by heating a couple tablespoons of oil in a dutch oven. Add the sliced vegetables and let them sweat down a bit. Then scoot them to one side and begin searing the steak pieces. Add additional oil if needed.

As you finish them, pile them on the veggies so you don't need to dirty another plate. Once all the steak pieces (I had 4) are seared, spread the steak and peppers out in the pot, add the tomato mixture(s), a tablespoon or two of beef base or red wine if you have it, give it a quick mix, cover, and put in a 325 for a couple hours. The squash will probably break down but that's ok. This leaves a luscious flavorful broth.

I served the steak with hot buttered gemelli and crusty bread. 

Steako di Garda!!!

******Note:Pictures of Lago di Gardo courtesy of Wikipedia.

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