Top Chef is back and we finally got back into the swing of things to cook up some Top Chef food after having Top Chefs cook for us in New York City. Did I use Top Chef enough in that last sentence?
We managed to catch the first episode of season 10 before we left town and some of the new contestants are doozies. They do, however, seem supremely talented and for one of their first challenges they were to make Wolfgang Puck the perfect omelet. I love omelets. K hates eggs. This posed a challenge in deciding what to make. So we compromised — instead of Eliza Gavin’s New York strip and morel mushroom omelet with fennel tomato reduction (original recipe here) we made a grass-fed rib-eye steak with morels and tomato fennel reduction.
BONUS: The good people at BlueStar sent us an amazing cookware set and we gave it our first go for this dish. We don’t review products very often, but when we do you can be sure it’s something we’d use “in real life” and endorse wholeheartedly and boy do we endorse this cookware! These pots and pans are the best thing to happen to our kitchen since… well, probably ever. BlueStar also makes professional-quality cooking ranges for the home and, my stars — if we had one of their ranges in our kitchen we might never, ever move. They are that nice, seriously.
So, we took the new sauce pan and saute pan out for a test drive and fired up the oven for some steak.
1 large grass-fed rib-eye steak
4-6 dried morel mushrooms (or fresh, if they’re in season)
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
2 TB water
2 TB red wine
1 TB dried thyme
1 ripe tomato, medium
1/2 shallot, diced
1/2 cup fennel, diced
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
5 TB butter, cold
1 TB chives, chopped
1 TB fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp fennel fronds, chopped
1/2 bunch fresh asparagus
1/4 cup Emmental cheese, course grated
Get your steak started — sprinkle generously with coarse sea salt and pepper and let sit for 10 minutes so the salt “melts” in. Heat oven to 300 F. If using dried morels, just cover them in boiling water.
Heat about 1 TB extra virgin olive oil over med-high heat. We used our BlueStar 10″ fry/saute pan for this. Whatever you use, make sure the pan is oven-safe (no plastic, etc). When oil is very hot, sear steak briefly on both sides (about 2 minutes per side).
While the steak is cooking, make the reduction.
Peel the tomato by cutting an X in the bottom. Pop the tomato into boiling water for 2 minutes then put immediately into ice water. When tomato is cool, the skin should peel right off. Remove the seeds and tomato goop and dice the tomato flesh.
Put white wine vinegar, sugar and 1/2 cup water in a sauce pan over medium heat. As soon as sugar disappears, add diced fennel and shallot. Reduce the liquid almost completely. Whisk in the butter until it’s incorporated and the sauce is creamy. Add tomato, chives, parsley, fennel fronds and salt (to taste). Keep the sauce warm.
Boil water in a small saucepan and add asparagus until it’s just cooked through (3-5 minutes, depending on thickness of asparagus). Drain water, lightly salt and keep warm.
When steak is cooked through, let it rest for 5-7 minutes before cutting. While steak is resting, drain the morels and gently squeeze out the extra water with a paper towel. Reheat the pan juices in the steak pan over medium heat (add a little extra olive oil, if needed). Gently scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan and add the morels and thyme. When morels are tender, add red wine and 2 TB water. Reduce until sauce is almost gone.
Slice the steak, spoon the morels and red wine sauce over steak. Spoon the reduction over the asparagus and sprinkle with cheese. Spoon reduction around the plate then eat!
This new BlueStar cookware kicks ass! The pots and pans are weighty, cook evenly and clean easily. We only wish they made meat thermometers — ours broke and the steak overcooked, but it was still tender and delicious. The sauce was buttery and light with sweet tomato and slightly anise flavor of fennel. The smooth, rich mushroom sauce warmly enrobed the steak to great effect. And the fresh asparagus with a little creamy cheese bite was very complementary. We couldn’t ever imagine this full meal being part of an omelet and we’re sure glad it wasn’t.
Who’s your favorite to win this season of Top Chef? So far, our money is on Elizabeth (from South Africa) or Kristen (the former model) or John (the guy who keeps reminding us about all his restaurants).