Who Needs Football? I've Got Meat
Since talking about football is obviously out of the question for, oh, say, the next eight months or so, and baseball is not yet on my radar screen, I thought I'd fill some time by sharing one of my favorite recipes. Yes, that's right, I cooked dinner tonight, and took pictures while I was doing it -- all for you people. Deal with it. (Inspiration for the following post has been provided by Rickey Henderson and his myriad interesting recipes over at the incomparable Riding With Rickey).
It must first be noted that I have at least one thing in common with Johan Santana: Both of our moms grew up in Venezuela. Being from Venezuela, my mom picked up an incredible meat/potato/egg concoction known to you Spanish-speakers out there as carne mechada, which, of course, can be loosely translated as"whale's vagina." What follows is a step-by-step recitation of how you, too, can fry up a batch of this heavenly manna in no time flat. Enjoy.
WHAT DO I NEED?
Basically, everything in the picture at left: About 1 and 1/2 lbs. of flank steak, an onion, an orange pepper (or green, if that's your thing), a potato, an egg, and - most importantly - a pressure cooker (at left in that picture). For years, the lack of this bizarre cooking implement was the reason I never attempted this dish. However, getting married gives one a perfect excuse to stock up on some free cooking junk via this whole registry scam, so I jumped at the chance. Fortunately, my aunt ponied up for it, and I became the proud owner of a Fagor (no jokes, please) Pressure Cooker.
OK, I'VE GOT ALL THAT SHIT. NOW WHAT?
First of all, watch your mouth. Second of all, trim away any noticeable fat deposits on the steak. Then, dump about 1 and 3/4 cups of water into the pressure cooker, and add the steak. Seal it up and cook that bad boy for exactly 40 minutes. Oh, and be sure you follow the directions on the cooker so that it doesn't explode in your face. (Side note: my Mrs. is afraid to use the cooker for this very reason).
OK, THE STUPID STEAK'S COOKING. NOW WHAT SHOULD I DO WHILE I WAIT?
Well, there's lots of things you could do that aren't recipe-related, but this is the perfect time to cut up your veggies. A mini-prep works great for the onion, but I would do the pepper by hand, as it tends to turn into liquid in the mini-prep. Just note that when you cut that pepper open, you may find a freakish little green pepper embryo growing inside, as I did tonight (see picture).
Anyway, put your cut-up onion, pepper, and potato in a bowl, cover with saran wrap, and stick it in the fridge. It's now time to check your, um, meat.
OH, BOY! IT'S BEEN 40 MINUTES! NOW WHAT?
Woo hoo! It's time for some hot shredding action. Get yourself two forks and a big plate or cutting board. Then basically just tear this sucker apart (my technique is pictured at left). The more long, thin threads of steak you create, the better. Picture a big pile of angel hair pasta, but made entirely of beef.
Now, very important note here: While this shredding process is taking place, any hungry dogs that might be in your vicinity will most definitely come a-callin', as mine does every time I cook this dish. I would suggest giving her a few small samples. Your dog probably needs a little more joy in her life.
OK, I'M THE PROUD OWNER OF A BIG PILE OF BEEF THREADS. NOW WHAT?
Good for you! Set that meat aside, heat up a non-stick frying pan, and add some olive oil. It's time to fry up your veggies. (You might want to do just the potato pieces first since they take longer, or you can do 'em all at once. You make the call).
Toss and turn this mixture until the potato pieces are fully cooked, since, as you probably know, there's nothing worse than an undercooked hunk of potater - bleah. Sample a piece of potato to make sure you can move on to the next step.
HEY, MY MEAT'S GETTING COLD!
Well, fortunately, it's time to add it to the pan! Get a good pair of tongs, and work those veggies into the beef, equally distributing it to the extent possible. Sure, your concoction may look a little bit strange at this point, but just wait - it's about to get really, really good. Add some salt and pepper at this point, and away you go!
From here on out, the tongs are your best friend. Just keeping turning and tangling this mess in the pan under a medium flame, and watch it get crispier and crispier by the minute. Try not to drool into the pan at this point.
BUT WHAT ABOUT MY EGG?
Ahh, excellent question. When your meat mixture is looking nice and crispified, put the tongs down for a moment, scramble that chicken embryo up real nice, and pour it into the pan. Pick those tongs back up and turn, baby, turn, until that egg is evenly distributed and well-cooked. Keep on turning until your dish has re-crispified.
And, well, you know what, folks? You're done! Your finished product should look roughly like this (click to enlarge):
Oh, LORD yes. I like it so crispy you can practically eat it like popcorn, but feel free to cook it to your own liking. Stick a wad of this stuff on a plate along with your favorite side dish (we made some bulgar wheat last night), and proceed to revel in the greatest meat dish ever created on God's green earth.
Let me know how your batch turns out!