Prime Angus New York Strip with Wild Asparagus, Potato Puree, Onion Fondu and White Cheddar Gougere

This is an entrée that was created for a wine dinner several months ago. It is “Prime CAB New York Strip with Onion Fondu, White Cheddar Gougere, Wild Asparagus, Potato Puree”.

The New York Strip on this dish deserves an article of it’s own one day…It is USDA certified Prime, genetically verified Angus, hormone-free, antibiotic-free and is corn-fed up until the last two weeks before slaughter, when it receives a grass diet. The purpose of the corn feeding is to fatten the beef and give it the marbling that lends to it’s tremendous flavor. The reason for the grass finish is to reduce or eliminate the count of harmful e. coli before slaughter. To further enhance this already glorious steak, we give it a 7-12 day dry age in a temperature and humidity controlled cooler before cleaning and portioning. We cook it in a 1600 degree broiler that is a recent addition to our kitchen, giving it an incredible crust on the outside and cooking it to the desired doneness before crucial moisture inside is lost. To finish, we brush the steak with duck fat and sprinkle with sea salt.

The onion fondu lends some great texture and sweetness to the dish. “Fondu” from the French literally means “melted”. We prepare the onions the same way we would French Onion Soup, by cutting the onions in a julienne, then sautéing them slowly while stirring constantly. This slowly caramelizes the sugars in the onion while the constant stirring keeps them from burning. I deglaze the pan with sherry and reduce, then deglaze again with fortified veal stock and reduce again until thickened. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

There is also wild asparagus on this plate, which is available from purveyors like “Fresh and Wild” on the internet when in season. The key to serving great asparagus (or any green vegetables) is to blanche the vegetable first. To blanche, put on a large pot of water and bring it to a rolling boil. Add salt until it tastes like seawater. You’ll also want to have a bowl or pan of ice water nearby, more ice than water. Drop the asparagus into the boiling water, being careful to not add enough to bring the water off of a boil. The asparagus will cook very quickly and you will see it go from the dull color that it begins with to a beautiful emerald green. When you take the asparagus from the water is very subjective…most chefs will say when it is “al dente”, but what does that mean besides “to the tooth”? Al dente is a subjective term. The fact is the asparagus is ready when it reaches a level of doneness that you are satisfied with. Immediately transfer the asparagus to the ice water using a slotted spoon or strainer to stop the cooking process, preserving that color and consistency that you desire.

The reason we blanche the vegetables very quickly is to preserve the vitamins and minerals. We add the salt not for any kind of magical chemical process, but because it seasons the vegetable as it’s cooking. When the vegetables are cooking the cellular structure is expanding, so it can take in flavor. When you shock it in ice water the structure will contract, making it a moot point to season the ice water.

After you’ve blanched the asparagus you can hold it in the refrigerator until company arrives, or put it right into a medium-heat sauté pan with whole butter, some chicken stock and a little minced shallot. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper. Finishing with freshly chopped herbs is a nice touch as well.

Also on this plate is a white cheddar gougere, one of my favorite things. The gougere is there to add a different texture, but it also tastes fantastic. Gougeres are choux pastries, meaning that it is a baked dough of water, flour, butter and eggs in it’s most basic form. The eggs make the dough rise, causing it to look like “choux” in French, or “cabbages” in English. Although Gougeres are typically piped in rings then filled, I’ve simply piped these gougeres in circles for this presentation. The following is the recipe I used for this white cheddar gougere:

Yield: 30 each

Milk ¼ cup
Water ¼ cup
Butter 2 ounces
Kosher Salt ½ tsp
Flour 4 tbs
Cornstarch 2 tbs
Grated White Cheddar ¼ cup
Eggs 2 ea
Fresh Thyme ¼ tsp
Dry Basil ¼ tsp
Fresh Oregano ¼ tsp
Onion Powder 1/8 tsp

1. Add milk, water, butter to a sauté pan and bring to a simmer.
2. Mix flour, salt and cornstarch together.
3. Whisk the dry ingredients into the simmering milk and water. Let cook on low heata and stir constantly until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan.
4. Place the mixture in a stand mixer and mix on low speed. Slowly add the eggs and white cheddar. Add the herbs and onion powder.
5. Pipe onto a silpat (silicone baking mat, available at Sur la Table or and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown and cooked through.

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