As you may have noticed, we’ve been on a bit of a fig kick lately. In part this is because it seems to be a trendy ingredient on Top Chef this season, but also because once we purchased fig spread and dried figs we needed to find ways to use them. Seared rib eye, crushed walnut potatoes and balsamic fig reduction seemed like a really yummy way to draw down our stash of figs.
The recipe calls for the beef scraps to be reduced with stock and balsamic vinegar for about an hour so K got a head start on that. When I got to his place it smelled fantastic! Chad the Bravo intern got very specific in calling for “potatoes, skin on” in the recipe so I cut up some Yukon Golds and popped them in the oven to roast.
They browned up and looked very roasty, but when we mashed them with a hand masher (we skipped the futile and messy-sounding technique of pushing them through a wire rack) they seemed overly roasted, hard to mash and really comfortable in their skins. However, adding a little butter and some neutral-tasting grapeseed oil before tossing in the toasted walnuts helped.
K reduced the balsamic fig sauce and started searing the rib eye and I started assembling our tribute to Chef Kenny. The judges weren’t impressed by the giant chunk of goat cheese in his crispy goat cheese and strawberry-rhubarb relish nod to a cheese plate, but we know you can’t go wrong with fried cheese.
I’d done the compote the night before boiling sugar, Captain Morgan, vanilla and a cinnamon stick to marinate the rhubarb in. The strawberries were at K’s place so I chopped those up and added them later. I think they actually benefitted from not marinating overnight, that probably would have made them mushy.
Kenny’s wrong turn was serving big, giant slices of goat cheese so we cut small pieces and coated them in salted panko breadcrumbs before pan frying them quickly. The rib eyes finished just as the cheese crisped up and I popped the cheese onto some baby greens and spooned the compote over it while K assembled the meat and potatoes.
And oh my, it was a good “cowboy” meal — the meat was rich and savory in the sweet/acidic reduction. We will absolutely make potatoes this way again as the toasted walnuts provided a little crunch and, yes, fabulous nuttiness. But my absolute favorite part of the meal was the goat cheese and strawberry rhubarb compote. The compote was sweet yet still crispy. The greens were fresh and the goat cheese was tart and crunchy and creamy and the whole thing came together like a sweet, sweet song. I can’t believe someone got sent home with this in their repertoire.
Looking for meat and potatoes? This one’s for you. And skip dessert and go with this yummy “cheese plate.” The fact that the fried cheese is on a bed of greens and fruit cancels out the calories, I believe!