Meat of the Matter: A Summertime Solid Winner

If you’ve spent even five minutes online, you’ve been bombarded with all kinds of recipes, weight-loss “secrets,” culinary tips and meal-planning shortcuts.

There are how-to videos, click-through web pages, celebrity testimonials, and chef-endorsed cookbooks, entrées and preparation tricks.

Unfortunately, much of that represents foods, ingredients and recipes that are either wildly outside most people’s conventional cooking/eating habits, or so slanted toward vegetarian/vegan restrictions as to be DOA for the average American omnivore.

If there are such creatures.

But now, thanks to an interesting story by an Associated Press Wellness reporter and published, among other places, in The Washington Post, there’s a novel mealtime idea that makes sense, sounds appetizing and builds on the dietary choices we willingly make, not the ones we have to be guilt-tripped into choosing.

It’s called the Meat and Potatoes Steakhouse Salad, and if that sounds too good to be true, be assured: it’s not.

“Generations of Americans have grown up heralding meat and potatoes as the classic dinner of choice,” the article began. “Who doesn't love the taste of that time-honored combination, filling our bellies with the comfort of a juicy, fatty steak and fluffy, carby spuds? Just thinking about it is enough to make us pine for the 1950s when this was considered a healthy meal.”

Guess what? It still is!

And the concept behind this relatively simple centerpiece meal entrée is that any traditional main dish can be turned into a salad, offering the best of both worlds: hearty ingredients to comfort the palate, and “lighter” fare to console the conscience.

That’s a recipe worth exploring, and here’s how it plays out with the Meat and Potatoes Steakhouse Salad.

A Simple, Savory Recipe
The recipe begins with an 8-ounce steak, which will be extended into a full four servings, when incorporated into the salad. The article recommended filet mignon: it’s a leaner, “beefier” cut, and since only a couple of ounces of meat are needed per person, the overall ingredient cost remains reasonable.

Next, roast or grill about a half pound of baby red potatoes, to be cubed and added to the salad. Then steam about half a pound of fresh asparagus only until just barely tender. C’mon — nobody prefers wet, soggy asparagus.

Finally, grill the steak in a heavy sauté pan with olive oil, salt, pepper and granulated garlic. When finished to the desired degree of doneness (which is never more than medium-rare, especially with a juicier cut such as a filet), remove the steak, allow it to rest, then cook the mushrooms with chopped garlic until just softened and lightly browned.

Finally, the dressing for this meat-and-potatoes salad — I love just saying that phrase — is described as a concoction of Dijon mustard, vinegar, olive oil and tarragon whisked together until creamy, then salted and peppered to taste.

Here’s the interesting part: Most salads are served cold. This recipe recommended serving it with the steak, mushrooms and potatoes still slightly warm. Couldn’t agree more.

As the article noted, “The entire salad celebrates steakhouse flavors, including garlicky, meaty mushrooms, flash-cooked asparagus, tomatoes, blue (bleu) cheese, chives and a creamy dressing made from Dijon mustard and aromatic tarragon.

“It's like the steakhouse menu itself morphed into a complete meal on a plate.”

Give the AP writer credit: She got that right.

Editor’s Note: The opinions in this commentary are those of Dan Murphy, a veteran journalist and commentator.