Yesterday my mom presented me with a challenge: cook a meal using only what we have around the house. We needed to use up stuff.
It actually wasn’t that tricky. We had flank steak in the freezer, and green beans in the fridge, and fresh rosemary and cheese and whole wheat flour and all kinds of lovely things to eat. But as always, I thought it would be nice to try something new. But how to do it, with all these old things?
I have been craving a Bloody Mary lately. I don’t even particularly like Bloody Marys, but there was a can of V8 in the fridge, and this house seems to never run out of vodka, so the idea simply haunted me. So today I made that Bloody Mary. I made it just how I like it, with truckloads of hot sauce and horseradish, and then I put it in a plastic bag with the flank steak.
That settled the entrée: Bloody Mary-nated Flank Steak. It also settled the theme: cooking with booze. As a side I decided to bake beer bread, fancy beer bread with interesting bits and bobs scattered throughout. And as a veg, I ultimately took a gamble on what I will call haricots verts à la gin gimlet, using my Great Aunt Gloria’s homemade kaffir lime marmalade.
The boozy meal was a success. The flank steak, that most underrated of steaks, was juicy and tender and flush with a peppery tomato tang and the pungent umami of Worcestershire sauce and vodka. The bread was soft and sweet and dense and fragrant. The beans were zesty and crunchy and sweet and moreish.
Booze: it’s not just for breakfast anymore.
Bloody Mary-nated Flank Steak
1 1/4-1 1/2 pound flank steak
For the Mary-nade:
12 ounces V8 or tomato juice
1/2 cup vodka
1/4 cup hot sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
2 heaped tablespoons horseradish
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons dill pickle or olive brine
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 pepperoncini, chopped
For the rub (make about 1/3 cup, all of the following in equal measure):
- Trim excess fat and pull membranes from flank steak.
- In a sealable plastic bag, mix all marinade ingredients. Seal bag and shake to combine.
- Add flank steak to bag and marinate, refrigerated, for 8-24 hours.
- Remove flank steak from marinade and drain. Pat dry with paper towels.
- Mix rub ingredients in a bowl. Rub half into each side of the dry flank steak.
- Boil leftover marinade to use as a jus.
- Heat olive oil on a griddle to high heat. When oil is very hot, sear flank steak on both sides for 4-5 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Slice against the grain and serve with hot jus.
Parmigiano, Rosemary, and Kalamata Olive Beer Bread
3 cups whole wheat flour
12 ounces beer (use a fairly robust beer, such as a pale ale)
1 1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
6 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
2 large sprigs fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
- Preheat oven to 325ºF.
- Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl, reserving 1 sprig rosemary and 1/2 cup cheese. Add beer and knead to combine. Dough should be sturdy but still slightly limp and sticky.
- Turn dough into a buttered or oiled bread pan. Bake for 65-80 minutes.
- Mix remaining rosemary and cheese with butter. Sprinkle on top of bread about 10 minutes before the end of baking.
- Allow to cool at least 1/2 hour before slicing.
Haricots Verts à la Gin Gimlet
about 3 cups green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons gin
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lime marmalade
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup fresh basil, torn
- Mix gin, honey, marmalade, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
- Toast sunflower seeds in a dry pan.
- Boil green beans for 5-6 minutes, until just tender. Drain, return to heat and add gin mixture, sunflower seeds, and basil. Toss to coat and serve.