Steaks are luxurious and hearty but surprisingly easy to prepare, which makes them the perfect choice if you are trying to surprise or impress a loved one with a special dinner for two. Keep the meal simple by choosing side dishes that not only complement the flavor of the steaks, but are just as easy and quick to prepare.
Cooking the Steak
Nothing says summer like grilled steak. If you are cooking whole steaks and have a barbecue, consider grilling them. It takes about 8 minutes on each side to grill a 1-inch steak if you want them medium-done. The thinner the steak, the faster it will cook no matter what cooking method you use. If the weather isn't cooperating, cook your steak indoors. Pan-sear it in olive oil. Again, 8 minutes on each side should be enough for medium steaks. Steaks can also be seared for 2 minutes on each side, and then baked in the oven until the internal temperature reaches 135 to 140 for medium or 160 for well-done. This is a good choice for thicker steaks.
Seasonings, Sauces and Marinades
Spice up your steak -- quite literally -- with spices. Marinate the steaks overnight in red wine or creamy salad dressing. Or, rub your steak liberally with the contents of a package of dried seasoning mix before cooking it. Make a simple sauce by reducing red wine or heavy cream and adding butter. Melted Gorgonzola cheese, garlic butter and bleu cheese dressing also make excellent toppings for steak.
There's a reason many people are "steak and potato" lovers -- the combination is classic. Round out your dinner with a potato dish. Wash some russet potatoes, rub them with a little olive oil and salt, poke a few holes in them with a fork, and pop them in the oven to bake. Or, cut some baby reds in half, drizzle them with butter and garlic, top with some fresh rosemary and roast them. Finish off your complete dinner with a healthy serving of steamed vegetables and green salad with cherry tomatoes and creamy dressing. Broccoli and asparagus go very well with steak and potatoes and are loaded with nutrients.
Tips and Tricks
When purchasing your steaks, ask the butcher to trim away excess fat so you don't have to do it at home. This saves you time, and the butchers are often more skilled at removing the fat but not the meat. If you are going to grill the steaks, look for cuts that are "marbled," which means they have thin strands of fat running through them. Finally, don't forget to remove the steaks from the fridge an hour before cooking them. Bringing the steaks to room temperature does two things: It allows them to "sweat," which means that seasonings will stick better to them, and it allows them to cook more evenly because the center of the steaks will not be so cold.