Friday, June 10, 2016

Blue Plate Special! ... Steak Milanese with Peppers & Onions over Pasta Marinara

     An American Diner Style Blue Plate Special!
     The level of quality can vary greatly at American diner restaurants.  The food at a top notch diner restaurant is all cooked from scratch and this includes the desserts, jellies and jams.  On the flip side, greasy spoon diners tend to rely on instant mix products, canned food and frozen desserts to maintain quality.  No matter how good or bad that a diner restaurant may be, all diners have one thing in common.  They all offer a Blue Plate Special!

     Every good diner offers a good Blue Plate Special.  The Blue Plate Special can be something simple like "all you can eat fish" on a Friday night or it can be something on the gourmet side.  A Blue Plate Special is not exactly as fancy as a special du jour at a fine dining restaurant, but nonetheless, it is meant entertain guests.  
     More often than not, the food for making Blue Plate Specials was purchased at a low price and the bargain is passed on to customers.  Low cost meats, secondary cuts and local peak harvest seafood are all fair game for a Blue Plate Special.  
     Tough cuts of beef can be purchased for a low price, but tough beef presents a challenge.  Marinating, stewing or braising will tenderize nearly any tough cut of beef.  Tenderizing a cheap tough steak with a meat mallet will leave the meat tender, while presenting an opportunity to sauté or pan fry.  A pan fried Beef Steak Milanese certainly sounds more exciting than beef stew and the cost still remains low. 
     Something like a Beef Steak Milanese should be an average portion size, like 6 to 8 ounces.  This means that the rest of the plate must be filled out with accompaniments or the customer's perception of value be in question.  In other words, if the Steak Milanese is small, the rest of the plate needs to be covered with vegetables, potatoes, rice or even pasta.  Serving breaded veal, beef or chicken over tomato sauce pasta actually is a classic diner style presentation.  Topping the breaded steak with grilled onions & peppers also is traditional.      
     Nobody ever said diner food is glamorous.  Diner food is short order cooking and the food presentations require minimal effort.  This means that the entrée has to look good on its own, because it is not heavily garnished.  Diner Blue Plate Specials are usually large size portions of cheap food, because customers will only be content if they have a belly full of food for a bargain price.  Today's recipe is a definitive diner style Blue Plate Special! 

     Marinara Sauce: 
     Diner restaurants usually serve a smooth pureed Marinara.  To make a smooth Marinara, allow the finished Marinara Sauce to cool.  Either run the Marinara through a food mill or place it in a food processor and pulse till the sauce is smooth.  
      Follow the link to the recipe.

     Steak Milanese:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Select a thin Beef Top Round Steak that weighs 6 to 8 ounces.  The steak should about 3/8" thick. 
     Trim off any excess fat.
     Step 2:  Use a meat mallet to pound the steak till it is tenderized and evenly thin.
     Step 3:  Lightly season the steak with sea salt and black pepper.
     Dredge the steak in flour.
     Dip the steak in egg wash.
     Dredge steak in fine plain French bread crumbs.
     Step 4:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 2 1/2 ounces of blended olive oil.
     Adjust the temperature, so the oil is 360ºF.
     Step 5:  Place the breaded steak in the hot oil.
     Pan fry the steak on both sides, but try to only flip the steak one or two times.
     Pan fry, till the breading is crispy golden brown.
     Step 6:  Use tongs to place the steak on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan, to drain off any excess oil.
     Keep the Beef Steak Milanese warm on a stove top.

     Grilled Peppers and Onions:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 steak.
     Onion ring shapes (rondelle) is a diner style way of cutting onions for grilling. 
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of blended olive oil.
     Add 2 thick slices of onion that are separated into rings.  (About 3/8" thick.)
     Add 1/4 cup of red bell pepper strips.
     Add 1/4 cup of green bell pepper strips.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Step 2:  Gently sauté till the onions and peppers are tender, but not browned.
     Keep the peppers and onions warm on a stove top.
     Pasta Marinara:  
     This recipe yields 1 portion.  
     Any pasta can be used for this recipe.  Most American diners use Spaghetti for a Milanese entrée.  Mezze Occhi di Lupo Pasta translates to"Wolf's Eye Pasta."  I had some on hand, so Mezze Occhi di Lupo was the pasta choice in the photos.
     Step 1:  Cook 1 portion of a pasta of your choice in boiling water over high heat till it is al dente.  The sauce can be heated while the pasta cooks!
     Place a 5 to 6 ounce portion of the marinara sauce in a sauté pan over medium low heat. 
     Gently simmer the sauce till it is hot.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Step 2:  When the pasta is ready, drain the water off of the pasta.
     Add the pasta to the sauce.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Keep the pasta warm on a stove top. 

     Steak Milanese with Peppers & Onions over Pasta Marinara:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Place the pasta marinara on a plate as a bed for the steak.
     Step 2:  Place the Steak Milanese on the pasta.
     Squeeze about 1 teaspoon of Fresh lemon juice over the steak.
     Step 3:  Place the grilled peppers and onions next to the steak on the pasta.
     Sprinkle 2 to 3 pinches of grated Romano Cheese over the pasta.
     Sprinkle some minced Italian Parsley over the entrée.
     Garnish with a sprig of Italian Parsley.
     Serve with dinner rolls or garlic bread on the side.

     This hearty Blue Plate Special that can be cooked at home for just a few dollars!

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