Viva El Peru! South American Take on Meat, Potatoes & Salad.
My first meat-based recipe on the blog. The other day I was doing some shopping at the co-op by me and was chatting with a friend who works there. We somehow got on the topic of South American cuisine, and I mentioned how earlier in the year I wanted to make Huancaina sauce for an egg dish I had a recipe for (pronounced “wan-ka-eena”) and needed aji amarillo sauce, which I had to call markets all over Portland before finding one Caribbean place miles out that had it. And strangely enough, while I was browsing their condiments section… aji amarillo! A new item!
After a bit of browsing stores and prices, etc. The dish that came to be…
NY Strip Steak With Aji Amarillo & Cream Sauce, Roasted Purple Potatoes and Radicchio en Brulee.
(Not the most appetizing photo. Still learning how to adapt to my sub-par digital camera’s abilities.)
And here it is if you want to try to recreate this yourself. It is not the easiest recipe, but I’ll put in as many tips as I can.
1. The Steak
1 steak, short loin or sirloin. My choice was made because I saw a good deal on nice looking NY strip. Enough for two.
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
2 tbsps aji amarillo sauce (hard to find, but check with Latin, Caribbean and specialty markets.)
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1 cup of half and half
1 avocado, cut into slices
salt and pepper
Start by cooking your steak. First, oil a pan or grill plate and turn up hot. For best results the oil should just start to smoke a little. Season both sides of the steak and place on the pan. How long you cook each side is going to vary on how well you like yours done. For this dish I strongly suggest no more than medium–about two minutes per side. I also like to throw a pat of butter into the pan as the second side cooks. This not only gives a nice edge to the meat, flavor but also keeps the pan oiled.
Remove the steak and set aside to cool. This is extremely important for steak. Never, ever start cutting it right away, you’ll get the juices that make it tender spilling everywhere like a Chernobyl. No less than five minutes before you even touch it again. Meanwhile take the onions and peppers and add them right to the pan you were just using and lower the heat to medium/medium-low. Cook them for a few minutes to get tender, then add your garlic, aji sauce and half & half; lower the heat more.
(You might notice in the picture that I sliced the onions and peppers in my dish. This was a bad call. Diced would’ve made it better as a side to eat with the steak itself.)
After the steak has cooled 5-10 minutes. Slice against the grain into strips and add these back into the pan. You don’t want to cook the meat further, just give it a good stir and a minute or so, that the meat is coated in and absorbs the sauce. Remove the meat from the pan and arrange on your place. Spoon sauce over that and add the vegetables nearby too. Don’t just dump the whole pan onto the plate, it’ll be messy. Garnish all or a few strips of meat with an avocado slice.
2. The Potatoes
Turn up your oven to 400 degrees. Place potatoes over a baking try lined with foil and send them in once the oven’s heated. By the way, you want to start this long before any of the other dishes on this list as it takes the longest.
Cooking times will vary depending on the size of your potato. Check on them occasionally and turning them every ten minutes. You’ll know they’re getting close to done when the skins start to wrinkle. You can poke them with a fork to test. Remove them from the heat and let them sit. Potatoes, like steaks, are not best served straight from their heat source.
Advice, comrade: I wasn’t intending to buy purple potatoes. I just saw these cigar-shaped potatoes at my co-op and bought them just because they were good roasting size. I was very happily surprised to find they were purple inside! Peru is more or less the original home of the potato and home to hundreds and hundreds of varieties. It was a real nice compliment to the reds and purples of the steak and radicchio.
3. The Salad
En brulee is a French way of cooking, which translates to “burnt.” It’s usually reserved for onions, but can be done with anything. In this case, radicchio, which is a slightly bitter green with tight, packed leaves, is great. For one, the brulee softens the bitterness of the radicchio and makes it sweet and flavorful. Second, the tight pack of the leaves means it can stand up for the heat you’re going to hit it with.
For starters, prepare a vinaigrette. I didn’t write down anything on how I made the vinaigrette I used, but I recommend just working with what you already have. A vinaigrette is easy though. I would just recommend looking at recipes elsewhere (is that sad I’m outsourcing my own recipe…?) You can even use a bottled dressing; I wont mind, although those tend to be excessively salty, I think.
My advice is when you’re making this, steal some of the juices from the steak pan and add that to another. Not only will this make your sauce for the steaks lower in fat, but it also will impart the flavor to the radicchio. Just enough to cover the pan and use non-extra virgin or vegetable oil to ensure a good coat. Turn that up to a medium-high heat. Cut your radicchio down the middle along the stem. Season the inside if you like, then place them on the hot pan. Cook until the radicchio is burnt. And I do mean burnt, blackened, charred… that’s a brulee.
Now, if you don’t want the black part of the brulee, and I don’t, a simple butter knife can gently scrape of the most blackened bits. A reason to not under-cook a brulee before it blackens is you’ll wind up with a radicchio that is half raw and half tender, and that’s weird. Plus, the char is flavor. To finish, just toss in your dressing and add to the plate.