What’s for dinner: Spice-Rubbed Steaks and Chipotle-Chevre Polenta

photoPhoto from Weeknight Menus Vol. 3, from Cuisine Tonight.
(And yet I made it on a Sunday! Rebel!)

A few things I learned again while cooking at home (and shopping for the necessary ingredients) over the past two weeks or so:

  • Stash_Licorice_TeaIt is a bad idea to have tortilla chips in the house, because they will be my default snack no matter the time of day.
  • Licorice Spice tea by Stash is my favorite flavor for making iced tea.
  • Gain_Dishwashing_LiquidI love you and all, Mrs. Meyers,– your parsley hand soap sits next to the kitchen sink! — but nothing beats the smell-cost ratio of Gain Original dishwashing liquid. We now have Gain brand laundry detergent, fabric softener and “scent booster” pellets for the same reason. (And I just learned Procter & Gamble makes air fresheners with that scent, too. A little giddy, I’m not gonna lie.)
  • Paying $15 for one night’s groceries seems expensive, until you remember that you likely would spend at least that on even a basic dinner by the time you get a beverage and tip your server.

Nonetheless, I’d still find myself standing in front of the cheeses, saying things like, “This wedge of manchego is EIGHT DOLLARS. How much do I really need it?” Or in the produce aisle, trying not to spend $1.50 on three heads of garlic. “Where are the singles?”) It’s the culinary equivalent of how a $15 bottle of Bliss body lotion would be a bargain at Neiman Marcus, but too expensive at Target. (Note: $8 manchego is not required for tonight’s dish, but $4 chèvre, or goat cheese, was.)

Substitutions: See above for how I ended up using top blade steaks tonight, instead of the suggested four 6-ounce sirloin cuts.

Cost of ingredients: $9.15 for the steaks, a red bell pepper, a green bell pepper and chèvre. I had everything else in the pantry. (For the record, that “everything else” is an onion, white wine vinegar, olive oil, kosher salt, brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, ground cumin, black pepper, vegetable oil, yellow cornmeal and chipotles in adobo sauce.)

As easy as they said? Individually, pieces of cake. The relish: Dice the peppers and red onion, and combine with 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar and 1 tsp. olive oil. The dry rub for the steaks: 2 tsp. each of kosher salt, brown sugar and paprika; 1 tsp. each chili powder and ground cumin; ½ tsp. black pepper. The polenta: 3 cups of boiling water, ¾ cup polenta or yellow cornmeal, and 1 or 2 tsp. minced chipotles in adobo. Stir over low heat for 5 minutes, then add ¼ cup crumbled chèvre and combine.

How’d THAT go over? Pretty well. The rub didn’t really crust up as I had imagined it would, but it lent great flavors to the steak. The polenta was extra-tasty. The “relish” was kind of a weak link; it provided a nice crunch for sensory different, but wasn’t really anything more than … peppers soaked in vinegar. Not even truly pickled peppers — which could have been delightful, now that I think about it.

Would I make it again? Yes to the polenta — what’s not to love about cornmeal and chipotles? Maybe to the spice rub; a good commercially available one would save a little work. And probably not to the relish.

WHAT SAM WORE: 8/11/13
shirt081113 shorts070412 shoes031711
The shirt: “Rio de Janeiro” T-shirt, from Nordstrom Rack, Phoenix.
The shorts: Corduroy cut-offs, on clearance at Lucky Brand, Chandler Fashion Center.
The shoes: Sneakers by Diesel, from Last Chance.

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