Chef Peter Smith likes to get as much use as possible out of the ingredients he chooses. In this main-course recipe for his budget dinner for 4, his economical tendencies produced the right amount of flavorful vegetable broth that serves here as a basis for the pan-braised stew. That eliminated the need to buy a container of broth.
The recipe calls leftover red wine, if you have it, plus a few herbs from the garden. It also uses the onion-flavored oil from the Asparagus With Crystallized Ginger Vinaigrette (see related recipe in Recipe Finder).
- For the vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon reserved onion-flavored oil (see related recipe in Recipe Finder)
- 1 corn cob, cut into 4 to 5 pieces, kernels reserved for later use
- Cores and seeds of 3 medium Roma tomatoes, flesh reserved for later use
- Trimmings or scraps from 3/4 medium yellow onion, onion reserved for later use
- Stems from 2 button mushrooms, caps reserved for later use
- Reserved asparagus trimmings (see related recipe in Recipe Finder)
- Warm water
- Stem from sprig thyme, leaves reserved for later use
- Stem from sprig rosemary, leaves reserved for later use
- For the rosti potato
- 2 to 4 tablespoons reserved onion-flavored oil, plus more as needed (see related recipe in Recipe Finder)
- 3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and kept in cold water
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground white pepper
- For the pan stew
- 1/2 to 3/4 pound thin-cut bottom round steak, cut into 1/2- by 3-inch strips
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons reserved onion-flavored oil (see related recipe in Recipe Finder)
- 3/4 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- Reserved kernels from 1 ear yellow corn
- 2 reserved button mushroom caps, washed and cut into quarters
- Reserved flesh from 3 medium Roma tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- Reserved leaves from 1 sprig thyme (stem used for the vegetable broth, above)
- Reserved leaves from 1 sprig rosemary (stem used for the vegetable broth)
- 1/2 cup red wine (optional)
For the vegetable broth: Heat the onion-flavored oil over medium heat. Add the corn cob pieces, tomato trimmings, onion scraps and mushroom stems; cook for 4 minutes, stirring once or twice, until they begin to brown and have started to soften. Add the asparagus peelings, if any, and trimmings and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Add the thyme and rosemary stems, then add just enough warm tap water to cover the contents of the pan; increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes or as long as it takes to get to the final steps of this recipe.
Meanwhile, make the rosti potato: Heat 2 tablespoons of the onion-flavored oil in a large nonstick skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat.
Have a large plate close to the stove. Use the large-holed side of a box grater to grate the potatoes over a medium bowl; squeeze out any excess liquid and starch from the potatoes into the bowl and reserve it.
When the oil is hot, carefully spread the grated potatoes in a single, 1/4-inch-thick layer in the skillet or pan to form a potato cake (or rosti); do not move or stir the potatoes for 1 minute. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil around the edges of the potato cake. Season the top of the potatoes with salt and white pepper to taste. Use a flexible slotted (fish) spatula to gently dislodge the edges of the potato cake, making sure it is not sticking to the bottom. Cook for about 8 minutes, until the edges and bottom are golden brown, then carefully slide the potato cake onto the plate nearby.
Return the pan to medium-high heat; add a teaspoon or so of the onion-flavored oil, as needed.
Carefully invert the potato cake into the skillet or pan so that the browned side faces up. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, until it is golden brown on the second side. Remove the potato from the heat and set aside, still in the skillet or pan.
For the pan stew: Season the meat well with salt and black pepper. Have a plate close to the stove.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook for 45 seconds to a minute, stirring once or twice, until browned. Use a slotted spatula to transfer the meat to the plate.
Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and cook for 2 minutes or until it has softened. Add the corn and mushrooms, stirring to mix well. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then return the meat to the skillet along with the thyme and rosemary leaves. Add the wine, if using.
Pour enough of the vegetable broth through a fine-mesh strainer into the skillet to cover the meat and vegetables by 1/4 inch; discard the broth solids. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once or twice.
Shortly before serving, add about 1 tablespoon of the reserved potato-starch liquid, stirring to mix well; this will help thicken the stew. Cook for 2 minutes, then adjust seasoning as needed.
Cut the rosti potato into 4 large wedges or 8 smaller wedges, dividing them among individual plates. Spoon the stew over the edges of the rosti wedges; serve immediately.
From chef Peter Smith of PS 7's restaurant in Washington.
Tested by Kathy Orton.
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