I couldn’t decide what I was in the mood for. Or, more truthfully, I couldn’t decide between two recipes, so I decided to make both. Why not?
We had ribeye steaks from The Root Cellar in the freezer that needed to be used soon, and I was craving something like a Mexican casserole I had as a child at my Aunt Ginny’s pool party. It is cool and rainy here today, so the grill was not an option for the steaks.
Software: So I put the ribeyes out to thaw and made sure I had the other ingredients I needed for the casserole. Luckily, I keep tons of Penzey’s spices on hand. If you haven’t tried their stuff, you absolutely should. They have stores (which are dangerous to visit!) and online ordering. I mostly do the mail-order.
Hardware: For these recipes, I was going to need 2 cast iron skillets, and both used a 500 degree F oven. I used a standard cast iron skillet for the casserole and my deep “chicken fryer” cast iron skillet for the steaks, as it has higher sides. Also recommended: a splatter screen. And a fan, and open windows/doors. The steak process generates a lot of smoke.
Special Consideration: Both recipes are quick-cooking, so getting ingredients together ahead of time (for the casserole) is recommended.
How it Went Down: I rarely follow recipes 100% completely to the letter, but in this case, I mostly did.
For the pan-seared ribeye, I decided to marinate the thawed steak in a mixture of small pinch of salt, some granulated garlic, fresh ground black pepper (all to taste) and about 2 T of red wine, 2 T of Worcestershire sauce, and 1 T of balsamic vinegar and 1 T of olive oil.
Once I got that in the zip-top bag and mixed together, I threw in the thawed ribeyes (mine were about 3/4″ thick.
Then I went about making the Mexican casserole (I had found the recipe online and decided it fit the bill of what I was craving). The casserole on its own would make a great vegetarian meal. I didn’t have fresh cilantro, so I added dried instead. I also added some granulated garlic because I generally put garlic in almost everything.
For the rice, I used Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice (whole grain brown), since it takes 90 seconds to cook in the microwave and is healthy and inexpensive. I left out the red bell pepper as that is verboten in my house, but I subbed some roasted red peppers that I had in the fridge and added a few hot an sweet jalapeno slices, also from a jar. I also subbed sharp cheddar for the Monterey jack, since it’s what I had ready to use. And I opted for jarred salsa rather than enchilada sauce.
I basically prepared the skillet casserole and put both the casserole and the steak skillet into the 500-degree oven. Then I moved the finished casserole to the “hot box” (aka the microwave that was not turned on).
I heated the deep skillet as AB’s recipe calls for, and removed the steaks from the marinade, and then did the 30 second & 30 second searing (using the splatter screen), and 1.5 minutes per side in the oven due to the thinner steaks.
The smoke detectors went off 3 times during the steak cooking, so I had to run and open doors and windows and send the dogs outside for a while.
I moved the steaks to the hot box to rest, and the casserole back to the now-off-but-still-hot-oven.
I trimmed the steaks and sliced on a bias and served. It was good stuff. The dogs loved the trimmings after dinner, too (of course).
Debrief: All the substitutions and the method worked fine. Although I don’t like stressing out the dogs, I’d do the exact same thing again! The steaks were all consumed and we have some leftover casserole to take for lunches at work.
Now that I have a blog, I’ll have to try to remember to take photos. And don’t worry, when I adapt a recipe more than I did these two, I’ll re-write the recipe as part of my blog post.