Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Man food.

Last week, despite my foray into broader flavor territory, we fell into a rut. More appropriately, perhaps, is that we were snowed into a rut. The rut's name was cinnamon raisin bread. Problem: We ran out of milk for cereal. Solution: cinnamon raisin toast with cream cheese. No lunch supplies on hand? Cinnamon raisin toast with butter. After our at-least-once-weekly, no-inspiration, delicious dinner of scrambled eggs and potato wedges, Alex needed a snack. Cinnamon raisin toast with nutella? He asked.  I don't see why not, I replied.

I could probably go on eating this way, as I did freshman year in the Warren Towers dining hall (what up Late Nite quesadillas?)... but my buddy has started to rebel. Probably because he's out shoveling all of the time.  In any case, I'm told he needs real food. Man food.  So here it is.
How about Sunday night dinner of steak and potatoes? 

It may be cheating (with its lack of originality), but this was the quickest way to prove to Alex that I heard his pleas for “real” food. My marinade was closer to a wet rub (oil, red wine vinegar, Worcester sauce, mustard, and garlic), but it did the job. Pat the meat dry, generously salt and pepper both sides to create a crust and pop it in a hot pan. This was, in fact, the inaugural use of my Christmas pan from Moopsie: a Calphalon Unison nonstick 12-incher. Not content with just cooking the meat, I also used the pan to caramelize onions (using the water-only method) while the steak marinated. Then I added the onions back to the pan (deglazing with more water to pull up the brown meaty bits) while the steak rested. I love one pan cooking, and this is the pan to do it in—it was able to develop a nice sear on the steak, while being gentle enough to keep the onions from sticking.
I sliced the steak and served it with potato salad (boiled red potatoes dressed while warm with a red wine vinegar, mustard, and chive vinaigrette). Juicy flank steak topped with sweet and meaty caramelized onions=better fuel for shoveling.
I think the best part of this steak was how easily it transitioned from Sunday dinner to Monday dinner.  Salad is not always considered manly... but steak salad is!  I dressed some lettuce with olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice, salt and pepper to serve as a bed for the leftover flank. Add slices of roasted beet and supremes of orange and this flavor-jammed veggie fix is seasonal and hearty. Goat cheese adds punch to the melody of sweet and salty toppings—man food is flavor food, after all.
Which brings us to Tuesday night dinner: what says “man food” more than Martha Stewart and pie? (This question was designed to fool you.)  Everyday Food’s tortilla and black-bean pie.  Beans, melted cheddar, and beer. Comida del hombre!
I did a little prep Sunday night, cooking dry beans according to Rick Bayless—simmer beans with oil and onion for two hours, add salt and cook for fifteen minutes longer.  Dry beans are cheaper than canned, but aside from the financial benefit, I like being able to manage my own salt content.  Plus I like how shiny dry beans are when wet.  It’s the little things.
Canned or dry beans, this pie is solid and filling.  The layers are dense and cheesy and just a little spicy. It’s like a round Mexican lasagna. 

Man food accomplished.

Tortilla and black-bean pie (from MarthaStewart.com)

4 (10-inch) flour tortillas
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, diced
1 jalapeno chile, minced (remove seeds and ribs for less heat)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, drained and rinsed
12 ounces beer, or 1 1/2 cups water
1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn
4 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
2 1/2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a paring knife, trim tortillas to fit a 9-inch springform pan, using the bottom of the pan as a guide. Set aside.

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeno, garlic, and cumin; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add beans and beer to skillet, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until liquid has almost evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in corn and scallions, and remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper.

Fit a trimmed tortilla in bottom of springform pan; layer with 1/4 of the beans and 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat three times, using 1 cup cheese on top layer. Bake until hot and cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes. Unmold pie; sprinkle with scallions. To serve, slice into wedges.


  1. Beer? Black beans? Cheese? All in one pie? I must make this.

    What kind of beer did you use?

  2. I used Bell's Amber ale – firmly adhering to the "don't cook with alcohol you wouldn't drink" rule. I don't need a reduced, concentrated flavor that I didn't like to begin with. Plus, it is slightly sweet and Alex always has a fear that cooking with beer will make food taste bitter.

  3. Probably one of my favorite posts to date. Just FYI, sister.

    Have you ever made bread beer? Do it so I can be inspired, kthxbai.

  4. Hmm and by bread beer I meant beer bread. OR DID I?!

  5. We've made beer bread. It was dry and dense. It could have just been the recipe though.