Frugality: Local Steak and a Fabulous Way to Cook It

Let them eat steak!

In times when we're watching our budgets (and our waistlines) steak is a non-intuitive choice. Steak? Try cheap pork roast instead... right? Well, it turns out that a good steak can actually be a very economical dinner.

We were having a guest for dinner on Sunday night, so we decided to splurge on some good local meat. We went to our local farmers market on Saturday and checked out the options. The local beef farmstand was down to just a few choices, however; it was the end of the morning. (Our household is not of the early bird variety.) But they did have a 1-pound rib eye steak that looked juicy and not too fatty.

I was dubious on whether it would feed all three of us, but decided to spring for it. It cost about $10 - not bad.

I am easily intimidated by steak and initially thought about braising it. (Hold your cries of disbelief; I believe in braising nearly anything. It works.)

Then I stumbled on this method from Alton Brown. It involves a cast iron pan, heated up very hot, in a very hot oven. Then you sear the steak directly in the hot pan and put it in the oven for a couple minutes on each side.

• See Alton's method in detail here: Pan Seared Rib Eye

Ta-da! Lovely, lovely steak - medium rare. It was very easy and quick. I used herbes de Provence that a friend just brought me from France, and the steak had a delicious crust.

I also caramelized some big cipollini onions and simmered them in half a bottle of red wine (Tip: great way to use up that three-day-old bottle of cheap wine. Once it's reduced that far it still tastes like heaven). The reduced red wine and onion juices went all over the steak. (Yes - that is red wine sauce over the steak - not blood. The picture does look rather bloody, I admit.)

And then I sliced the steak - and there was plenty for all three of us! More than enough, in fact. I had to urge my two companions to finish it off. Steak for just $10, plus plenty of local vegetables (beet coleslaw, baby argula and orzo, and that potato salad with yellow beans.) Not a bad deal, especially for a once-a-week company supper.

And the funny part is that Sara Kate and Maxwell did almost the exact thing on Saturday night! They bought a modestly-sized local rib eye for their family, cooked it, and sliced it up.

So the moral of the story is: don't be afraid to buy a little local meat, good meat, even during tough times. A little can go a long way.

Related: How To Broil a Steak in the Oven

(Image: Faith Durand)

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