It's OK to let them eat steak Beef: Small, flavorful amounts are fine even in these healthy days, and here are some recipes that should please all your cowboys and cowgirls.

July 08, 1998|By Ruth Cousineau | Ruth Cousineau,Eating Well Magazine

Even after the health revolution, you can still enjoy beef without losing your head.

"Steakhouse Sales Sizzle," "Beef Is Back," proclaim the headlines, as story after story details the resurgence of red meat on the American food scene. We are, it seems - despite health recommendations to eat less - a country crazy for beef. According to the latest figures available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, per-capita beef consumption was 63.9 pounds in 1997, higher, indeed, than any other meat, including chicken.

If steak is what you crave but you still want to keep health concerns uppermost, it is possible to eat steak - occasionally - in succulently tender, intensely flavorful, small but satisfying servings.

So we gathered our biggest beef lovers and asked them to try dishes on the order of Vietnamese Steak Salad and a mound of home fries or onion rings. No serving had more than 3 ounces of cooked beef.

What did these aficionados have to say? When we got comments like "Now this is serious food," "Tastes totally indulgent," and "I didn't realize how much I'd been missing steak," we knew we had a message we can all sink our teeth into.

Advice for cooks

Going against the grain:

* The "grain" of meat refers to the direction in which the muscle fibers run. To get the most tender meat, cut slices on the diagonal, crossing the grain.

Shopping tips:

* Look for meat labeled "choice" or "select," which is 20 percent to 35 percent leaner than "prime." ("Prime" indicates a generous marbling of fat throughout.)

* Vietnamese fish sauce is available in the international-food section of most supermarkets.

Vietnamese Steak Salad

Serves 4

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil

1 12-ounce flank steak, trimmed of fat

8 cups watercress or spinach, trimmed, rinsed and dried

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced

1 carrot, julienned or shredded

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

Lemongrass Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

In a large, food-safe plastic bag, combine lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce and chili oil. Add steak and seal bag, rotating it to coat meat with marinade. Place in a shallow dish and marinate in the refrigerator, turning bag occasionally, for 4 to 8 hours.

Prepare a gas or charcoal grill.

Grill steak, 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Slice thinly on the diagonal, across the grain.

In a large, shallow bowl, toss watercress (or spinach), cucumber, carrot, cilantro and mint with ] cup Lemongrass Vinaigrette. Arrange steak over greens. Spoon remaining vinaigrette over the top and serve.

Per serving: 230 calories, 21 grams protein, 11 grams fat (4.1 grams saturated fat), 11 grams carbohydrate; 855 milligrams sodium; 46 milligrams cholesterol; 3 grams fiber.

Lemongrass Vinaigrette

Makes about 1 cup

3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

2 small stalks lemongrass, trimmed and chopped

4 tablespoons chopped shallot

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon hot chili oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

In a small saucepan, combine broth, lemongrass and 2 tablespoons shallot. Cook over medium heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Strain into a small bowl, discarding solids.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons shallot, lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar and chili oil; whisk to combine. (The vinaigrette will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.)

Just before serving, stir in cilantro and mint.

Per serving: 10 calories per tablespoon, 0 grams protein, 0.3 gram fat (0 grams saturated fat), 1.3 grams carbohydrate; 150 milligrams sodium; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 0 grams fiber.

Home Fries

Makes 4 servings

Cut 1 1/2 pounds scrubbed Yukon Gold potatoes into 8 wedges each. Toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper (or substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning for salt and pepper). Spread on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake in the upper third of a 450-degree oven for 20 minutes. Turn potatoes and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, or until golden brown.

Per serving: 180 calories, 3 grams protein, 2 grams fat (0.4 gram saturated fat), 37 grams carbohydrate; 275 milligrams sodium; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 4 grams fiber.

Onion Rings

Makes 4 servings

Cut 2 Vidalia onions into 1/2-inch rounds and separate into rings. Place in a bowl and toss with 2/3 cup buttermilk. In another bowl, combine 3/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Dredge onion rings in bread crumbs and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Lightly mist with olive-oil cooking spray. Bake in a 350-degree oven until lightly browned, about 25 minutes.

Per serving: 145 calories, 5 grams protein, 3 grams fat (0.6 gram saturated fat), 26 grams carbohydrate; 450 milligrams sodium; 1 milligram cholesterol; 3 grams fiber.

Pub Date: 7/08/98

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