Beef and Greens

My mother is a very talented cook whose journey began when she was a young woman.  While in university in South Africa, she was in charge of orchestrating dinner parties for her father and others in his practice.  I happily recall my family’s most memorable moments – always around a dinner table – and my mother’s meals.  She now gives definition to hostess with the mostess.  She regularly entertains and enraptures people with her food. 

Her butternut squash soup laced with nutmeg and Granny Smith apples should be patented.  Her expertly prepared lamb is butterflied and left to bathe overnight in buttermilk and rosemary. On special occasions, crisp Yorkshire puddings with potatoes roasted in fat. Scones with golden raisins that pair best with raspberry jam, warm butter and a cup of tea.  Pecan pie giving respect to our Texas roots.  Gravies expertly crafted from gizzards.  The list goes on.  I confer with her before every dinner party or gathering we have.  I ask her why something is gelatinous, crumbling, changing colors or not cooking all the way through.  She always has answers.  She has a gift for looking at a recipe – simply glancing – and knowing if it is worth the effort. 

On the other side, my father is a master of meats.  He has been known to walk into a butcher and emerge with 30 plus lbs of the good stuff.  New York City, Boca Raton, Charlotte.  Wherever.  He is loved by butchers everywhere.  Well before a trip to the fire, he carefully massages different cuts with olive oil and kosher salt.  They will find homes on the plates of his children and their mates. A filet for the daughter watching her figure, New York Strip for the New Yorker, porterhouse for the third (to be shared with a fourth) and a Tomahawk for the one who always brings his appetite.  The Breyer's are kings of the grill.  We heart meat. Thanks to my elders, I have been given a good start in the food department.

Touch wood partner-in-crime also has the Midas touch with the grill. It should be noted that he regularly asserts that the word barbecue is not a verb.  With a father from Brooklyn who loves to barbecue - in the verb sense - I am constantly reminded. I remember when we first started spending Saturday afternoons together almost three years ago, partner-in-crime would fire up the grill and throw on chicken wings beautifully marinated in vinegar, olive oil, red pepper flakes and who knows what else.  Wings hot off the grill were a first for me.  We ate them barefoot on the deck, blowing on our fingers. They were sensational and I was impressed.

The grill is now part of our daily equation and a tool we use as regularly as our oven. During the Summer, Fall and Spring months, we shape our meals around the illustrious grill.  Pork tenderloin with fresh herbs and grain mustard, bison burgers with purple onions and parsley, Lebanese chicken kebabs with red bell peppers, wild caught Alaskan salmon, whatever is on special at the grocer that can be thrown on the Barbie and so on.  The grill is perfect for practical and healthy eating.  He takes ownership of the meat while I fuss about in the kitchen.  We call out times through the opening and closing sliding glass door. Both of us have a role. Everyone is happy.  

It is no secret that weather in Charlotte this December has been incredible. Unseasonably warm and wonderful days.  It is almost like Los Angeles - minus a lot of this and a lot of that.  I think my winter coat has made an appearance only a handful of times.  I have seen ice on my car perhaps twice.  Glorious. On Thursday morning it was decided that the marvelous weather called for lunch on the grill to be enjoyed outside in our beautiful backyard. 

Off to Costco we went to procure our steaks.  Filet mignon.  I think that Costco has one of the best butchers in Charlotte. Their prices cannot be beat. They have every type of meat and cut under the sun.  Beautiful fish to boot too. On numerous occasions, we have grilled their 5 - 7 lb beef tenderloins.  They are perfect for parties.  Whip up sour cream infused with horseradish, cut up a day old baguette, put it all on a decorative plate and you have sandwiches. 

Costco is one of my favorite places on the planet these days.  You can procure anything and everything there.  Giant bags of frozen berries for smoothies. Beautiful multicolored potatoes.  I love purple potatoes. Perfect for roasting with garlic, rosemary and olive oil. Their avocados are wonderful. The price of cucumbers cannot be beat. The brussel sprouts are amazing.  Manchego cheese. Robert Hall wine. Electric tooth brushes. Vitamix blenders. Fish oil pills. Hydrangeas. Cartier watches.  It's a place for abusing the words "I need" and "I want".  I have to stop, I am beginning to hyperventilate. 

For this lunch, as we all know by now, I generously salted the meat and let it sit for a pair of hours until we took them to the grill.  To accompany the steaks, I served roasted butternut squash.  Skin the squash, chop it up, throw in a pan and drizzle with olive oil, fresh thyme leaves (sage is also perfection) and ground nutmeg.  Roast at 350 and 45 minutes later you have a lovely caramelized side.  I also threw together an easy salad of chopped artisanal romaine, steamed black eyed peas and shaved sheep's milk cheese.  A drizzle of olive oil and the juice of two lemons and a quick toss.  A quick crack of pepper and we were in business.  

For this Thursday afternoon grill session, I prepared a fresh Chimichurri to accompany the steaks. The meal paired beautifully with Banshee, a wonderful red that we picked up at the SouthPark location of Winestore.  

'Tis the Season.  I strongly urge you to eat, drink and be merry.


You will need

1 bunch of flat leaf parsley (hold onto the stems for broth)
1 bunch of cilantro (hold onto the stems for broth)
1 shallot 
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 jalapeño - remove the seeds with caution
The rind of 1 lemon
3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
3 TBS red wine vinegar
10 dashes of oregano
1 tsp kosher salt

Prep Work

1.  Throw everything into the Cuisinart and blend until you have a gorgeous, green sauce.  Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.  If you want a bit more vinegar, add more vinegar.  If you want more punch, add more of the jalapeño. This is your dish.  Pour it into a pretty bowl and serve with a delicate spoon.

This tastes spectacular on everything and yields a nice amount of leftovers.  As always, recycle as you will!

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