Mustard marinade tenderizes and flavors steak

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Of all the steak joints in town," to paraphrase a famous movie line, you're not likely to be served as delicious and reasonably priced an entree as the steak dinner you can make at home. So why fight the restaurant noise and crowds this holiday season when what you want is a savory meal and good company?

The only challenge you'll face with a steak menu is settling on your favorite cut of beef. Steaks offer a combination of flavor and tenderness in varying degrees. You may give up a little tenderness for more flavor, or you may prefer more chewy texture and less fat. That's a personal choice.

The most tender selection is cut from the small end of the low-fat beef tenderloin and sold as filet mignon. Porterhouse steak has a bit of the tenderloin attached, making it tender, yet tasty. Rib-eye steaks come from a more muscled part of a steer, which means the meat is a little chewier, though no less flavorful.

Whatever cut you prefer, purchase a thick piece of meat. That way you can broil or pan-fry the outside to a rich deep brown while the center remains rare. Thin steaks quickly turn into tough and dry slabs. You're not likely to encounter prime grade beef in a supermarket, but if you prefer a rich-tasting and tender steak, splurge on prime from a butcher shop. Otherwise, you can tenderize and flavor a steak by marinating it for a few hours.

Mustard, garlic, oil and vinegar do wonders for a supermarket steak. Start Mustard-Marinated Steak in the afternoon. Serve it with Rice Pilaf and a salad of baby greens and a vinaigrette dressing. For entertainment, put on the movie tape of Casablanca and see what Rick is up to in his "gin joint."

Distributed by Tribune Media Services International

Mustard-Marinated Steak

Makes 2 servings

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Salt, pepper

One 1-pound rib-eye steak, cut 1 inch thick

1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon

2 tablespoons whipping cream

In bowl, combine garlic, 1 tablespoon of the mustard, oil, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Add steak and turn to coat all sides with mustard mixture. Cover and refrigerate 2 to 4 hours. Remove from marinade. Discard marinade.

Place steak on broiler pan. Broil about 3 inches from heat, allowing about 4 minutes per side. Remove and thinly slice.

Meanwhile, combine remaining 1 tablespoon mustard, tarragon and cream. Serve as a sauce for steak.

Rice Pilaf

Makes 2 servings

1 shallot, minced

1 cup finely chopped mushrooms

3/4 cup long-grain rice

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon salt, optional

2 tablespoons sliced almonds

Melt butter in small skillet. Add shallot and mushrooms and saute 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Stir in rice and saute 1 minute.

Add broth and salt and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until rice is tender and liquid absorbed, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Sprinkle with almonds.

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