There's a little bistro typical circa 1900 that's tucked in the 11th arrondissement near Bastille where the food is great and the atmosphere is always busy yet staff manages to remains friendly and welcoming. In short, my kind of place. Menu's are French, thank you, but I can tell you the waiters do speak English if they believe you are struggling and truly trying to make an effort. Because, as the French are so fond of saying "il faut quand même faire un petit effort" - one has to at least try and make an effort. French philosophy 101. The specialities of the house are plentiful including a fine Paleron de Boeuf and some interesting red wines to go along hand-in-hand. For desert, I allowed myself (against my better judgement, as readers are familiar with my weakness in this department) to indulge in a baba au rhum. What a fine way to round out a delicious meal.
A little culinary history before cook and drink, or the reverse. Flat Iron steak is the American Grade A name for the cut known as "butlers" steak in the UK and "oyster blade" steak in Australia and New Zealand. Like any non-loin steak, the Flat Iron benefits from marinating and is best if it isn't cooked too well beyond medium unless you need to re-sole your shoe. Some of you are probably wondering, and anxiously so, about the origin of the term "flat iron." I pondered that very same question over a steak and hefty glass of red and have come up with some interesting and iron-clad "facts" on this very subject. The French insist (mais bien sure -call me shocked) they were the first to discover the Flat Iron Steak and it was not too long ago in 1477, after the battle of Nancy. This steak was to be a victory dinner of sorts and the kitchen staff, ever mindful how much they liked their heads on their shoulders, thought it safer to trim and remove the thick gristle and sinew plate running through the center of the meat. The gristle was so tough it blunted their axes so the French got to calling it "iron hard" and since it is flat...voila." On the the American side, I was unable to track down any records dating back to fifteenth century although I did find a vague reference to a "Burger." Today, we understand that the cut was developed by a joint research team at the University of Nebraska and the University of Florida. This was a Federally funded (no surprise there) joint research and development effort to come up with something new and fresh; a sharper cut, if you will, that would present well at their respective tailgating parties, also known in France as: genre de picnic, style Americain, sur porte à rabattement en arrière. Oh-la-la Monsieur mais vraiment! The rest, as they say, is history.
It's probably safe to say there are many ways of preparing a Paleron as there are cuts of beef. You can slice it and dice and serve it with just about anything. My kind of food, folks. Serve it up red, black and blue, hot or cold. Just keep serving it until my arteries cry out in surrender. This recipe with the Madeira and mushrooms is rich and delicious and finger licking good. Skip the guests and make just for yourself, four legged friends are, of course, invited.
Le Paleron de Boeuf Sauce Madère
3 6 ounce flat iron steaks
3 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
3 shallots (thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic
1/4 cup balsamic wine
4 cups white mushrooms (sliced)
3/4 cup Madeira wine
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cut the flat iron steak into individual portions if needed. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Fry the steaks until browned on each side, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from the skillet and place in an oven proof dish. Set steaks in the oven to continue cooking.
Add shallots and whole cloves of garlic to the hot skillet. Cook and stir over medium heat until shallots are starting to brown. Add mushrooms to the pan; cook and stir until they shrink some, 5 to 10 minutes.
Pour the balsamic vinegar into the pan with the mushrooms and stir to remove any bits that are stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Pour in the madeira wine and simmer for a few minutes over medium heat.
Return the steaks to the skillet and cook until the internal temperature reaches 135 degrees to 140 degrees F (60 degrees C), about 5 minutes if at all. Remove the whole pan from the heat and let stand until steaks reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees F (63 degrees C), or your desired degree of done-ness.
If your looking for a possible compagnion to this dish, then please try Pavés du Mail or Steak with Mustard Cream Sauce
Now about those wines...
2003 Fifth Leg, Western Australia
2008 Druthers Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington State
2007 Perrin, "Réserve" Côtes du Rhône, France
2005 Cape Campbell Marlborough Pinot Noir, New Zealand
2007 Chinon Domaine Gouron, Val-de-Loire, France