Cooking for one is something that I struggle with on a daily basis, and the impracticality of it is a major reason why single people around my age eat out all of the time. I’m not going to lie and say that it isn’t a big load of work to make something elaborate for just one night, for one person, and then get creative with the leftovers and ingredients not used. Or the time-consuming aspect of it. Think of all those foods that you can only buy in family-sized packages, jars, bunches, and cans. After some experience, though, knowing how to cook small and shop wisely should come more easily. I pretty much live by the credo that what’s perishable must be used, in some way, in your dinner that night.
Another tip is to visit the deli or butcher counter, where you can get fresh, unpackaged foods in whatever quantity you like. Yesterday, I chose to go the way of gourmet for a meal for two that didn’t cost much more than ten dollars (see Cost Calculator at end of recipe). I even bought enough of the steak to feed three or four without meaning to, and had to freeze the leftover second half. This classic bistro combination of hanger steak with mushrooms probably needs not be repeated by the inexperienced French culinary wisdom of myself, but it’s an easy win when you’re cooking for company. It can be a little on the expensive side, but it’s not excessive, and it’s quick and easy to prepare. The rich, deep colors of the dish are very elegant, too. Good for cooking for parents, or a boyfriend or girlfriend’s parents.
Hanger Steak with Portobellos
1 lb hanger steak (about two to three large steaks)
2 tblsn olive oil
1 package baby portobello mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 handful Italian parsley, coarsley chopped (about 2 tbspn)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tspn Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup Sherry cooking wine
1/4 cup low-sodium stock or hot water
1 tbspn butter
Salt and black pepper to taste
Saute portobellos with 1 tablespoon of oil under medium heat for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper, add garlic, half of the parsley, and Worcestershire sauce and reduce heat. Heat a large saucepan under high until almost smoking. Add rest of the olive oil and steaks that have been seasoned on both sides with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and cook for about 5-10 minutes or until desired doneness, turning once; steaks should still be juicy. Remove and place on platter with a lid. In the pan the steaks cooked, add the sherry and broth or water and cook a minute or two, letting it reduce to about 3/4. Add butter, and stir. Transfer the mushrooms to the pan with the wine sauce and stir thoroughly. Slice steaks into large slices as you might a piece of French bread. Transfer to serving plates. Pour any juices from the plate into the pan with the mushrooms. Sprinkle remaining parsley over the mushrooms, taste for seasoning, and serve immediately on top of the steaks. Pair dish with light side dishes that will absorb the sauce, such as boiled red potatoes.
(for 2-4 servings)
1 lb of hanger steak at $6.99/lb: $6.99
1 package baby Portobello mushrooms: $1.99
1 lb baby red potatoes at $1.49/lb: $1.49
1/4 cup sherry cooking wine at $2.99/bottle: ≈ $0.25
1/4 cup low-sodium broth::≈ $0.10
2 tbspn parsley at $0.69/bunch: ≈ $0.10
Salt, pepper, tspn Worcestershire, garlic clove: ≈ $0.15
Seven brownie points – not to be eaten everyday. Hanger steaks are wonderful in flavor and tenderness, and (or because) they have a fair amount of marbling (aka: fat) throughout. It should be trimmed well for any excess fat while raw. It’s a decadent meal though, so pair up light and savor the taste, not quantity.