Secrets of Greek Cuisine Revealed – Prepare Athenian Steak and Potatoes Like a Professional
Ethnic cooking today is a mixture of “food wannabes” and authentic recipes. Sorting between these two is a challenge, even for the professional. Take the term “Hawaiian”: any recipe that uses a slice of pineapple is dubbed “Hawaiian”. Most of these so-called ‘ethnic’ and ‘authentic’ Hawaiian meals never even heard of the Hawaiian Islands! In a similar vein, “Greek Cooking” has come to mean any recipe that uses either Feta Cheese or Kalamata Olives. This is definitely not the whole story, and in most cases, not even a fraction of the story.
Our recipe today comes originally from the Greek island of Patmos, where it most likely would have been made from lamb. Beef was a very scarce commodity in Greece up until recent times. Most early Greek meat recipes relied on either chicken, goat, or lamb. This recipe would have been transferred to Athens late in the Hellenistic period. It was then embellished through the use of potatoes. Potatoes, native to the New World, came to Greece late in the 17th century, so they definitely were not part of the original makeup of this recipe. Potatoes were introduced to Europe by Spain in 1536, so this recipe can be dated fairly accurately – in its present form, it is certainly less than 300 years old!
Another clue is the use of peppercorns, although this can be misleading. Common black peppercorns were known in Greece as early as the 4th century BC, but were very expensive and uncommon. With such a long and involved history, we cannot directly use the presence of pepper to date this recipe. Leeks, on the other hand, have a history in that part of Asia Minor that stretches back to before the 2nd millennium BC. Tomatoes are of the same family as potatoes (the nightshade family). Again, being of New World origin, the tomatoes in this recipe would have been added fairly late, after the tomato’s introduction to Europe by Spain in the 1540’s.
Athenian Steak and Potatoes
1/2# Boneless Beef Sirloin Steak: cut two 1/2″ thick, 3″ long pieces
* 3 large Russet Potatoes
* 1 10 1/2 oz. Can Beef flavored Broth, low sodium, no fat
1/2 large Leek
1/2 Green Onion
1 Bay Leaf
1 medium Tomato
* 1/2 Celery Stalk
2 fresh Basil leaves
* 1/2 tsp Thyme
* 1/2Tbl. Rosemary, ground
* 2 Tbl. Olive Oil
* 4-5 large Garlic cloves, sliced
* 1 10 1/2 can
1/4 medium Red Onion
Peel potatoes, slice lengthwise into 6 pieces each. Place Potatoes, Garlic Cloves, Rosemary (sprinkle over Potatoes), and Olive Oil (sprinkle over Potatoes) in a large, covered baking pan. Bake, covered, in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.
Devein one Basil Leaf. Finely chop Leek, Green Onion, Carrot, Celery, and Basil. Place Basil, Leek, Green Onion, Carrot, Celery, Peppercorns, Bay Leaf, Water, and Beef Broth in a sauce pan. Boil, covered, on low for 1 hour or until liquid is reduced to 1 cup. Strain liquid and reserve. Discard cooked vegetables.
Devein 1 Basil leaf*. Dice Red Onion and Tomato. Finely chop Basil. Place in bowl with Thyme and 3/4 cup of liquid from above.
Cook Steak in a no-stick pan with 1/4 cup of liquid (above) until brown, turning often.
SERVE: Place Steak on plate. Spoon Red Onion and Tomato mixture over Beef. Place Potatoes on plate and drizzle liquid from Red Onion and Tomato mixture over Potatoes. Serve immediately.
Serves: 2 [double asterisked items for 4 servings]