On occasion, I still like to make a “Sunday” dinner. Not like the ones I remember from decades ago with a mountain of golden fried chicken, creamy potato salad, green beans and rolls. These often are less ambitious meals, but they still have that little something extra – that spin that makes you want to set the table, pull out the matching napkins, maybe light a candle and open a bottle of the good wine.
I don’t always wait for Sunday, either. I use the term to describe meals that deliver a full-stop, sit-down and enjoy-the-food supper.
What sets these meals apart is the extra effort that goes into at least one dish. The creamed mushroom sauce that I recently spooned atop humble skirt steak is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.
I found the mushrooms, appropriately enough, in the cookbook “Sunday Dinners: Food, Family and Faith From Our Favorite Pastors” (Andrew McMeel Publishing, 2013) by Diane Cowen, who gathered recipes from 13 pastors.
The mushrooms came from Matthew and Caroline Barnett of Angelus Temple and the Dream Center in Los Angeles. Caroline Barnett says of Sunday dinner: “There’s something about sitting around the table and talking about your day. It puts a reset button on your life.”
That’s it exactly. Too often, dinner is something we gobble down after work and before whatever else comes next that evening – more work, homework with the kids, laundry or another Zoom call.
So, every now and then when I stumble across a particularly tasty dish, I use it as an excuse, or a prompt, to reassess and slow down.
Here, a skirt steak is quickly seared with salt, pepper and herbs, giving you time to make a luscious sauce – even on a time-strapped weeknight.
Thinly sliced onions are sauteed with butter until just starting to caramelize. Sliced mushrooms and garlic are cooked until nearly dry, and then sherry and cream are quickly stirred in. I took one taste and thought: Mmmmm. We are going to sit down and really enjoy this.
The rich sauce complements beef, but it would elevate a broiled chicken breast, taste great on pan-fried tofu or make you swoon atop homemade mashed potatoes.
Serve the sauced meat with your favorite green vegetable or a veg-filled salad, warm up a loaf of sourdough, sit down and enjoy.
Skirt Steak With Creamy Mushrooms
Creamy mushrooms adapted from “Sunday Dinners” by Diane Cowen (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2013); the steak recipe is from recipes editor Ann Maloney.
For the mushrooms
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium (3 ounces) yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated
10 ounces fresh mushrooms, such as baby bella or button, wiped clean, stemmed and thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
½ cup dry sherry, Madeira or white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for serving
½ cup heavy cream
For the steak
1 pound skirt steak, cut into 4 equal pieces
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried (optional)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil and melt the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute more, then add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
Cook until the liquid released by the mushrooms evaporates and the onions and mushrooms wilt, 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the mushroom mixture starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, decrease the heat to medium.
Add the sherry and thyme and stir to combine, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Decrease the heat to low and simmer, stirring a couple of times, until the sherry evaporates, 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in the cream, then taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Let the mushrooms simmer for about 2 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat.
Make the steak: Pat the meat dry and sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme, if using.
In a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the steak and cook, undisturbed, 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. The meat should be just charred.
Transfer the steak to a cutting board, let rest for 2 minutes and slice each piece thinly against the grain.
Divide the steak among plates. Spoon creamed mushrooms on top and sprinkle with more fresh thyme leaves, if using. Serve warm.
Yield: 4 servings
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