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Dress up meat 'n' potatoes with a cheater's romesco and buttermilk-rosemary mash

Who says American food is boring?
Who says American food is boring?
Will Budiaman

Sometimes, a midweek indulgence is called for. This is mine. I like to use a juicy, tender, grass-fed sirloin, but this recipe will certainly work with other quick-cooking cuts of beef like skirt or flank steak. It gets a shower of salt and pepper, and hits the grill for a couple of minutes till medium-rare. Done.

As for the potatoes, they get a bit of special treatment. Buttermilk is called for rather than the usual cream, butter, and/or milk, and a decent dose of aged Cheddar as well. Not shy with the black pepper, either.

To unify the dish, a simplified version of romesco, the Spanish sauce usually made with peppers, almonds, breadcrumbs, tomatoes, and hazelnuts. But like many great classics, it has its variations. This one's mine: It's a bit easier on the shopping and will come straight out of the pantry for most people.

Some may balk at the fact that there aren't any greens on this plate. Well, unfortunately, there just wasn't room for any.

If you really want a salad, there are recipes here and here and here, and you'll have to get another plate.

Game plan: Boil potatoes | heat grill | toast almonds | make sauce | cook steak | mash potatoes


For the potatoes:

  • 1 ¼ lbs red potatoes
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 ¼ c buttermilk
  • ½ c shredded aged Cheddar
  • 1 T chopped rosemary

For the steak and sauce:

  • ¼ c extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ c blanched unsalted almonds, preferably Marcona
  • 5 whole jarred roasted red peppers, drained and rinsed
  • 1 T red-wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ t paprika
  • 1 t sea salt, plus more to taste
  • Two 1-lb ½-in-thick sirloin steaks
  • 2 T canola oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


For the potatoes:

1. Place the potatoes in a pot just large enough to fit them snugly in a single layer. Cover with just enough water until it reaches the top of the potatoes, and place over high heat. Season with a generous amount of salt. Cook until easily pierced with a fork.

2. Drain, and return the potatoes to the pot over medium heat for a few minutes to dry, tossing occasionally.

3. Transfer to a medium bowl, and add the buttermilk, Cheddar, and rosemary. Mash with a fork. Season generously with salt and black pepper, and stir. Set aside.

For the steak and sauce:

1. Meanwhile, prepare an outdoor grill or preheat a cast-iron grill pan over high heat.

2. In a small sauté pan, combine 2 T olive oil and the almonds over low heat. Toast until lightly browned on both sides, about 7-8 minutes.

3. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the peppers, red-wine vinegar, garlic, paprika, and sea salt. Add the almonds with the cooking oil, and blend until fairly smooth. With the machine running, stream in the remaining olive oil. Set aside.

4. Coat the steaks with the canola oil, and season generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Place on the grill for 2 ½ minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove from the grill, and let rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

5. Set out 4 plates. Slice the steaks, and serve with the sauce and mashed potatoes.

Serves: 4

Suggested wine pairing: 2012 Lurra garnacha or 2011 Luzón Roble

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