“Top Chef” Winner Kristen Kish’s Beef Ribeye Steak & Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

April 2nd 2018

BEEF RIBEYE STEAK

Leek Fritter, Mustard Sabayon

When I don’t know what to make for dinner, I make a recipe like this: a roasted or seared meat, a simple sauce, and a side. It’s my go-to combo when I want something quick and I don’t have much time— like if I offer to cook for friends last minute. The leek fritters are inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe. The first time I made them, I kept thinking that such large chunks of leeks wouldn’t stay in the batter or cook evenly. I should have known better than to doubt Yotam. This is how we learn and stay inspired— from other cooks and chefs.

SERVES 4 TO 6

MEAT

1 (2-pound) beef rib eye steak
Grapeseed or other neutral oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 shallots, quartered lengthwise
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
8 fresh thyme sprigs
3 fresh sage sprigs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

LEEK FRITTERS

2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced ¾ inch thick
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¹⁄₄ teaspoon ground coriander
¹⁄₄ teaspoon ground caraway
¾ cup whole milk
Soda water
1 cup grapeseed or other neutral oil, plus more as needed
Kosher salt

MUSTARD SABAYON

4 large egg yolks
¹⁄₄ cup whole-grain mustard
¹⁄₄ cup dry vermouth
1 tablespoon honey
Kosher salt

TEMPER THE MEAT: Take the meat out of the refrigerator 1½ hours ahead of time.

AFTER 1 HOUR, GET STARTED ON THE LEEK FRITTERS: Soak the leek disks in water for 20 minutes, lightly swishing them in the water with your hands. Drain the water and repeat once more. Drain and lay the leek disks on a kitchen towel or paper towels to dry.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cumin, coriander, and caraway. Whisk in the milk and add soda water as needed: the consistency should be smooth and like that of thick pancake batter. Stir in the leeks. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Put a medium saucepan filled with a few inches of water on to boil over medium heat—you’ll need this when you make the mustard sabayon after the steak is cooked.

COOK THE MEAT: Place a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan over high heat, pouring in a thin layer of grapeseed oil. Season the rib eye generously with salt and pepper. When the pan is very hot and the oil is shimmering, sear the steak until a golden-brown crust has formed, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-high and turn over the steak. Arrange the shallots, garlic (cut-sides down), thyme, and sage around the steak. Continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. I like my meat medium-rare. Using a digital meat thermometer, when the internal temperature of the steak hits 118°F, add the butter, allowing it to foam, then baste the steak fifteen to twenty times. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and allow it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. The final internal temperature will climb to 123°F to 126°F.

WHILE THE MEAT IS RESTING, MAKE THE SABAYON: In a stainless steel or heat-resistant bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, mustard, vermouth, honey, and a pinch of salt. Set it over the pan of hot water over medium-low heat. Make sure the bottom of your bowl does not come into contact with the simmering water to ensure the egg mixture doesn’t curdle. Whisk constantly until the sabayon nearly triples in volume and turns a pale yellow, about 10 minutes. The sauce will become thick enough to hold a ribbon: when you raise your whisk and let the sabayon pour off the end of the whisk back into the bowl, that ribbon of sauce should sit on the surface of the sabayon for a couple of seconds before melting back into the mixture. Turn the heat off but keep the bowl sitting on top of the saucepan to keep warm. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the sabayon to prevent a skin from forming.

Using a new pan or cleaning out the pan you used to cook the steak, bring the 1 cup of grapeseed oil up to 350°F over medium-high heat. Drop 2-tablespoon dollops of leek batter into the hot oil and shallow-fry, flipping the fritters over if they’re not completely submerged in the oil, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt immediately.

TO SERVE: Serve family-style: slice the rib eye on the cutting board, stack a pile of the leek fritters next to the meat, and add a bowl of the mustard sabayon and a spoon.

 

STUFFED CABBAGE ROLLS

SERVES 4 TO 6

My grandmother taught me how to make this before I was ten years old, and it’s been my favorite ever since. We would eat this at nearly every Christmas gathering. Her house was so warm and inviting— perfumed with sauerkraut! When I was really small, she’d have me stand on a step stool (which doubled as my chair at large family dinners, since I was the youngest and smallest) to watch her cook this, meticulously peeling the cabbage leaves so they wouldn’t tear. The rolls would then simmer away for hours, and waiting for them to be ready was almost unbearable: I would sit in my grandmother’s light blue chair, eating candy, while she sat next to me crocheting a blanket. She used Jimmy Dean pork sausage, so I make this dish a little differently—adding my own spices to the meat with some additional flavors to balance. Of course, you can just buy your favorite sausage. I like to serve this with creamy pickled cucumbers: my grandmother wouldn’t have one without the other, so neither do I.

 

CABBAGE ROLLS

1 or 2 large green cabbages, enough for 12 to 15 large leaves
4 cups of your favorite sauerkraut
2 cups tomato juice
5 smoked bacon slices (optional)

STUFFING

1 pound ground pork shoulder (Boston butt)
1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon sweet, smoked, or hot paprika (I like a mix)
2 teaspoons ground fennel seeds
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
¹⁄₄ cup grated white onion
1¹⁄₄ cups uncooked white rice
Kosher salt
Grapeseed or other neutral oil

CREAMY CUCUMBERS

1 English cucumber
¹⁄₄ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper

NOTES

If you don’t love sauerkraut, no worries: a beautiful rich tomato sauce is a great alternative.

Also, I encourage you to serve the cabbage rolls directly from your baking vessel. So if you’re aesthetically inclined, choose your wares accordingly!

START THE CABBAGE ROLLS: You’ll need 12 to 15 nice large leaves to make these rolls. Gently peel off the outer leaves of the cabbage, then steam these over a pot of boiling water until pliable, roughly 15 minutes. Lay them out on a kitchen towel to cool and dry. Chop up the remaining cabbage (up to ½ head) into medium chunks.

MAKE THE STUFFING: In a large bowl, mix together with your hands the pork, beef, paprika, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, coriander, black pepper, garlic, onion, and rice, adding a generous sprinkling of salt. Shape a very small patty of the mixture and, in a hot small frying pan lightly coated with oil, cook it for 2 minutes on each side. Taste for salt and adjust your overall mixture accordingly.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Roll up ¼ cup of the stuffing into each steamed cabbage leaf, like you would roll a burrito, and tuck each roll into a deep baking dish, seam-side down. Pour a light layer of the sauerkraut juice and all of the tomato juice over the rolls. Insert small pieces of the cabbage heart(s) in between each roll, then top with the sauerkraut and more of its juices: the overall amount of liquid should come three fourths of the way up the cabbage rolls. I like to add some slices of smoked bacon over the top to add flavor while the dish cooks, but it’s your choice. Cover tightly with a lid or buttered foil, and bake for 2½ to 3 hours, until tender.

IN THE MEANTIME, MAKE THE CREAMY CUCUMBERS: Slice the cucumber into rounds about the thickness of a nickel. Combine in a nonreactive bowl with the vinegar, sugar, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Allow to sit for 20 to 30 minutes at room temperature. Drain off the cucumber liquid. Mix the cucumbers with the sour cream, dill, remaining 2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

TO SERVE: Serve family-style right from your cooking vessel, with the creamy cucumbers on the side.

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