New recipes, over excitement, spoiled dinner!

A few weeks ago the latest issue of Cook's Illustrated Entertaining arrived at our house.  As usual I couldn't wait to open it up and by the time I was through I had 13 pages marked!

I got over excited I think.  I do that with new recipes sometimes, try to do too much new at one sitting.  This is one of those times, and I destroyed some perfectly good steaks!

I was going to make a wonderful dinner.  Three brand new recipes that all sounded so good.  They all had thyme in them.  They were going to go together perfectly!  We've been eating so well lately that I was sure this was going to be another dinner that was a smashing success.

What was I making?  Well, in the magazine was a recipe for horseradish crusted beef tenderloin.  It sounded interesting and had flavors both Dave and I love like horseradish, shallot, garlic and thyme.  And it had something new I'd never tried before, making "breading" from grated potatoes!

We don't need a big tenderloin for just the two of us and we still had some great Butternut Woods steaks in the freezer so why not crust a couple of those?  So that's what I did.

Step one was to salt the meat, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for an hour.  Step one, that's where my dinner disaster started.  I didn't think.  I wasn't making a big tenderloin, I was making a couple of grass-fed steaks.   You don't salt grass fed steaks.  I know this.  I knew it then.  I didn't think.  The steaks were already ruined, I just didn't know it yet.

So with my steaks wrapped in plastic I started on the rest of the dinner which would include caramelized onion and potato gratin and maple glazed Brussels sprouts.

The potatoes would take the longest so I got those started.  As the name suggests you need to caramelize onions.  Lucky for me, Mr. Kimble and the rest of the Cook's staff figured out how to caramelize the onions more quickly than the normal 45 minutes.  The addition of a little brown sugar does the trick!

Once the onions are browned they are set aside and the cream is made.  This was pretty easy too.

The potatoes for this dish need to be thinly sliced.  I love my mandolin for this.  It makes very quick work of slicing or shredding just about anything.  I use it all the time!

I shingled half the potatoes in the dish, added the onions, then the rest of the potatoes, poured the cream over the top then topped with shredded cheese.  The recipe called for Gruyere which would have been amazing but I had a lot of manchego in the house from another recipe so I just used that!  It worked just fine, and unlike my poor steaks, the potatoes were quite good.

Once the potatoes were in the oven I got back to my steaks.  I had to make the horseradish crust.  This was the most interesting "crust" I've ever made.  There were 8 ingredients in the dry part of the crust alone!  Panko is browned in a little olive oil.  Once cooled it is tossed with horseradish, parsley, shallot, garlic and thyme!  And we're not done yet!  Next was the most interesting ingredient.

Have you ever fried (like deep fried) russet potatoes then crumbled them up as part of a breading?  Me neither!  That's exactly what you do here.  I got out my trusty mandolin again and grated potatoes.  These are then fried in, according to the recipe, a cup of vegetable oil!  Yea, no I'm sure it didn't need a cup.  And it didn't, half a cup worked just fine!

Once the potatoes are well browned they are allowed to cool.  Once cool you put them in a plastic bag and crush them and finally they are added to the panko mixture.  That's a lot of ingredients in a breading!

The meat is seared then allowed to rest on a rack over a baking sheet.  This is so the "juices can drain off before applying the paste and the crumbs".

My already ruined meat was patted dry and brushed with a mixture of mayo, Dijon mustard and unflavored gelatin.  Supposedly the gelatin helps keep the breading on the meat when you cut it as opposed to it just falling off.

I coated my steaks with the gelatin mixture then coated them in the breading and placed them on a broiler pan.  They were supposed to cook on a rack in a sheet pan but none of my racks are oven safe.  Yes, that will go on the wish list!  Again, I wasn't thinking.  The reason for the rack on the pan was so that juices could run off and not make the crust soggy.  My poor meat was so dried out at this point it was almost jerky and I was still not thinking!

The final dish for this wonderful dinner was maple glazed Brussels sprouts.  There wasn't much to these.  The sprouts are browned in a dutch oven and then a little maple syrup, cider vinegar and herbs are added.  They are simmered until soft, the liquid is then evaporated off and a little more vinegar and some butter are added.  These were delicious.  I really enjoyed the bite the vinegar gave them!

So dinner was served.  I'd been in the kitchen for almost 3 hours and I was ready to eat.  I cut my steak.  Well, I tried to cut my steak.  Why was it so hard to cut?  Why is it so hard to chew?  I know these were good steaks, we've had them before?  Why is this so awful?  And then I thought.  I thought about all the steps and what I had done to my poor steaks!  I won't do that again!

Barring the destroyed meat, I wasn't terribly thrilled with the crust.  I thought it was overwhelmingly horseradish flavored.  Don't get me wrong I love horseradish but with all the other ingredients in the crust, including the fried potatoes, I was expecting a bunch of flavors to come out and all I really got was horseradish.

So I ate potatoes and Brussels sprouts for dinner!  The potatoes were good, though I really didn't get much flavor from the caramelize onions so I'm not sure I'll make the effort to make them again.  The Brussels sprouts were very good but I can just add a little vinegar (maybe even balsamic) as a finish after roasting and they will be just as good.

It's been over a week since this disaster in my kitchen.  I had all the pictures from making dinner and I couldn't wait to tell the world about it.... well, here you go!  I guess everything can't come out perfect!  I'll admit I'm a little worried about trying all the other recipes I flagged now.  I just have to remember to think!


  1. Wow.. those steaks look really good. I've been searching for different recipes for grass fed steak and this looks like a winner.

  2. Janice, just don't do what I did and dry them out! DO NOT salt them and let them sit. It will suck the life right out of them! If I made these again I would simply make the coating and put it directly on the steaks and cook them without all the "drying out" steps.


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