Monday, March 19, 2012

West Texas, California

A bunch of things happened at once:
-a fellow food blogger left me a comment that while she'd never tried ground buffalo, she could attest to the fact that buffalo steaks were delicious
-I found a book at the library about spicy food, with chapters called Cowboys, Cattlemen, Catholics, Cajuns, and Californians. You see where this is going
-the Texan came across buffalo steaks at Costco

My Irish Catholic mother used to make steaks in the broiler on a fairly regular basis. It wasn't always my favorite meal, though it was certainly one of hers. I can't remember ever making steaks on my own, much less making them for others, and to me steak and potatoes always seemed so, I dunno, expected. But when the steak stars aligned as they did, I felt compelled to see it through.

The Texan and I wanted to give the steaks a little flavor, so we tried West Texas Barbeque Rub from Coyote Joe's On the Chile Trail. With three kinds of pepper, sugar, salt, and cumin, we figured we couldn't go wrong. As it turned out, I liked it more than he did: I thought the heat from the cayenne was perfect on the meat, and was mellowed out just a little by the sugar and the mild peppers. And because I just might cook my own steak after this, I'm sure I'll find a way or three to use up the leftover rub.

Coyote Joe's recipe for Bourbon Sweet Potatoes was a no-brainer. As he puts it in the description above the recipe, "Heavy cream, butter, bourbon, and brown sugar... it's simply heaven." Well, yeah! The Texan said his mom always puts a little bourbon in her sweet potatoes. I'd never even thought of it, so clearly I've missed something all these years. Oblivion aside, I thought boozy sweet potatoes with our buffalo steaks would be just the right spin on the typical meal, so I didn't skimp at all on the cream. Or butter. Or brown sugar. Or bourbon. The texture, blitzed to perfection in my trusty Cuisinart food processor, was indeed heavenly. The sauteed pecans on top were just the right contrast to the smoothness. Plus, Texans love pecans.

I used white-fleshed sweet potatoes, but you can use whichever kind you like.

Of course, if you eat steak and potatoes for dinner, you have to eat a green vegetable with it. Which is a lesson I learned from my mother.

Broccoli, steamed with a little butter, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

West Texas Barbeque Rub
from On the Chile Trail

6 TBSP ancho or mild New Mexico chile powder
1 TBSP granulated sugar
3 TBSP brown sugar
3 TBSP kosher salt
2 TBSP  ground black pepper
1 TBSP cumin (I used about 1/2 tsp)
1 TBSP cayenne powder

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl or container. Rub (really RUB) spice mixture into meat on both sides, if applicable. If possible, let meat absorb spices for 8-12 hours in refrigerator before cooking. If not, let stand for 20-30 minutes before cooking. 

Bourbon Sweet Potatoes
serves 6
from On the Chile Trail

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 C chopped pecans
1 tsp butter
3 TBSP soft butter
4 TBSP firmly packed brown sugar
4 TBSP heavy cream
3 TBSP bourbon
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
salt to taste (I didn't use any)

1. Boil sweet potatoes for 30 minutes, or until tender.
2. As sweet potatoes are cooking, saute pecans in 1 teaspoon of butter for 2 minutes.
3. Drain sweet potatoes and place in food processor while still warm. Add 3 tablespoons of butter and remaining ingredients (and salt, if desired). Puree, adding more cream if needed to achieve soft, creamy consistency. 
4. Top with sauteed pecans.

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