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Show your love with a homemade dinner

February 10, 2010 - Jenn Lucas
A great meal would be a welcome gift for anyone to receive on Valentine’s Day. Anyone can make a great and affordable meal for their sweetie with a few tips and a little know-how.

Most would think of steak as the top-of-the-line romantic meal – well, at least most men anyway -- so that’s a great meal for guys to prepare for their Valentine. The best part is steak is always on sale the week before Valentine’s Day because it is such a great seller in regards to the “holiday.” You can pick up most nice cuts – a T-bone, sirloin or New York strip – for a much more reasonable price than if you went out to a steakhouse. These cuts are best suited for a quick-cook method, which I will explain later, so stick with one of the three. Choose a piece that has a good amount of fat, the white part, marbled throughout as its what keeps the meat juicy and tender. Avoid cuts that have large pockets of fat; these will just burn off and cause smoke. Choose a cut that is about an inch or so thick, as they are the easiest to prepare. Now that you have found a great cut of meat, consider how to cook it. If you have an outdoor grill, like most people in the Sunshine State, you probably know how to cook the steak already. In case you don’t, fire up the grill to medium high and grill the meat on one side for about 10 minutes and about 5 to 8 minutes once flipped for medium doneness. If you’re somewhere cold or in a condo and reading this, grilling may not be an option, but your stove can still yield a juicy, well-crusted steak.

Take out your steak and let it rest, wrapped up of course, on the counter until it reaches room temperature, generally 15-25 minutes. This will ensure the steak cooks evenly. Turn on the oven to 450 degrees to preheat. Next, reach for your cast iron grill pan. If you don’t have one, you can use any cast iron or extremely heavy, oven-proof frying pan. Heat it up over medium heat for about 10 minutes to get it nice and hot. Meanwhile, season your steak with a little salt and pepper and place about a tablespoon of oil in the hot pan. Cook the steak on one side for about eight minutes without touching it at all, to get a good crust. Flip the steak and place the whole thing in the oven for about 10 more minutes, for medium.

How do you tell when its done? For well-done, make a fist with your hand and push on the part right under your thumb. That is how the steak should feel when you push down on it to achieve well-done. The further you get toward the pinky finger corresponds to doneness, the mushy part under your pinky would translate to rare on the steak.

Why not go all out and make Valentine’s Day dinner surf-n-turf. It’s easier than you may think. Snow crab clusters are also typically on sale this week also, so pick up about a pound per person. Crab legs are already pre-cooked when you buy them, if you like them cold, you can just serve them, so long as they’re not frozen. If you like them hot, with drawn butter, just take the bag the crab legs came in and pop it in the microwave on a plate. Cook on high for about eight to 10 minutes or until the cluster part is warn when you touch it. Then just melt some butter in a glass bowl in the microwave for about one minute and you have drawn butter.

To round out your meal you can easily make a baked potato – just throw two (or as many as you need) potatoes into a 450-degree oven for about 40 minutes or until you can slide a fork in and out of them easily. You can finish the steak in the last 10 minutes while the potatoes finish and at the same time get the crab legs started in the microwave. Let the meat rest for about five minutes while you melt the butter and plate the potatoes. This will allow the juices in the steak to settle so they won’t run all over your plate when you cut into it.

That’s the game plan for an easy, and if you don’t normally cook, unforgettable, Valentine’s dinner that will impress any sweetie.

Jenn Lucas is a journalist who loves to cook but hopes her fiancée will read this and take the burden off her for Valentine’s Day.


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