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Monday, April 18, 2011

Ribeye and rutabaga

Yep, it must be that time again, time for the On Our Grills Four Ingredient Challenge and this time, the ingredients are rib-eye steak, polenta, rutabaga and frozen strawberries. A rib steak seems quite simple and the challenge is going to be in getting that rutabaga and polenta to sing together well. So a little research resulted in two things, one, rutabaga can be quite similar to potato in terms of texture and flavor. But, the other thing I found out is that rutabagas are high in potassium, which is something I am not supposed to be eating. So are potatoes for that fact, it was clear there were going to have to be some changes to the menu.

Still, there was the challenge, I decided on making a grilled rib-eye steak, with grilled sugar snap peas and a Napolean of rutabaga, potato and polenta. First was to make some polenta, which took a little dry polenta, some water, butter and a few seasonings. This was simmered until softened, this took 45 minutes at low temperature. Then it was put into a pan to cool for cutting.
Then the rutabagas and potatoes were sliced, coated in olive oil, in this case some locally pressed extra virgin stuff, a little smoked kosher salt and some medium ground black pepper, my new standard is the Phu Quoc black pepper I have recently been able to source. A little goes a long ways. Rutabagas on top, potatoes on the bottom, ready for the kettle. The plan is not to smoke them, just get them cooked in a neutral heat, could be done in the oven just as well.
Finally, a Naturewell rib-eye steak, this one was a medium sized steak and really could serve as a meal for two. Actually, I ended up eating only half of it tonight. Naturewell beef is not the usual grass-finished beef I often buy, in this case the usual beef was unavailable in the grass-finished beef I prefer. The steak was decently marbled and tasted great though. I treated it with just some kosher salt and ground black pepper. Then onto a hot grill for a few minutes each side. I head for medium rare with this cut always, and judge using the finger poke method. I poke with the index finger, if it gives with a gentle push, then it is done.
Plating was a simple matter of placing the steak and some grilled sugar snap peas that got the same treatment as the potatoes and rutabagas. The polenta was cut into rounds, then seared in some spare duck fat I had laying around. The polenta was placed, then the rutabaga and finally the potato rounds. Finally, I used the frozen strawberries to make a gastrique for saucing the Napoleons.
In the end, I realized I wanted to layer a little more flavor into the dish, so I added some Shiitake mushrooms and caramelized onions to the dish, a classic accompaniment to steak and a perfect rich foil for the gastrique. In the end, I had to remove the rutabaga, as it appears to no be allowed. The juices from the steak, which poured out when the meat was cut, melded with the strawberry gastrique beautifully.

Strawberry Gastrique:
A gastrique is traditionally a mixture of an acid, usually vinegar, but sometimes citrus juice, with a sugar base. The desired effect is a sweet and sour flavor profile. I used this to highlight the mild sweetness I expected from the rutabaga, potato and polenta.
1 cup vinegar
6 large frozen strawberries
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch white pepper
Use 3/4 cup vinegar and combine with strawberries, salt and pepper. Heat to reduce by 2/3rds or until thick and add in 1/4 cup vinegar to return to sauce thickness. Test for desired sweet and sour profile. I add the last bit of vinegar to return brightness to the reduction.

I am not averse to the use of ready made polenta from a tube, it is certainly convenient and fast. My decision to make my own if based upon the fact that you cannot get the texture in polenta from the ready made stuff. I like to use a load of dairy to add smoothness and richness to the polenta.

1 cup water (or 1/2 cup each water and milk)
1/4 cup dry polenta
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon Todd's Dirt or similar herb mix, finely ground

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Combine all ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes over very low heat. Stir occasionally. Do not let simmer dry, add water or milk as necessary to keep moist.

Larry Gaian of The BBQ Grail - Entry Here
The BBQ Grail website was created in 2007, initially to document the author’s quest to find the perfect backyard BBQ experience. Since that time The BBQ Grail has become one of the more popular BBQ blogs on the internet and is listed on as one of the top BBQ blogs.

Paul Haight of No Excuses BBQ Entry Here
The No Excuses BBQ website was started in January of 2009 as a way to record the author’s goal of cooking outdoors at least once a week throughout the year and showing the results to the world.  Somewhere along the way things got out of control…

Hanneke Eerden of The Dutchess Cooks Entry Here
The Dutchess Cooks was started in 2010. After years of cooking, grilling, baking and reading other people’s blogs, I thought “why not start my own blog??” And I did, in 2010, but already after a short period of time, a blog wasn’t enough, and I started my own website. It’s not my goal to publish or come up with fancy and difficult recipes:  just good and delicious food with an international twist! Straight from my plate to yours!


  1. I always seem to get an education when I visit here, whether I wanted it or not. I bow to your use of frozen strawberries to make a gastrique (and explaining it so that I didn't have to go scrambling off to Wikipedia).

    Great use of the ingredients!

  2. An excellent effort. Really appreciate the gastrique education.

  3. Thanks everyone, it was interesting.