Despite our cutting back on meat, during the week, pepper steak still remains one of my husband's favorites. He has always been a beef lover and when we got married, he would not go near chicken. Beef it was, day after day, with little variation. Meatballs, meatloaf, stew and pepper steak. To top it off, it was not particularly good cooking.
I was fortunate that my MIL did not do a good job, cooking. Her vegetables were overdone, her meat was raw. For a new bride, I had little to live up to. Of course, I got little help, in that area, either.
My Mom was a better cook, one who produced the basics, chicken, simple meat dishes, potatoes, green beans and store bought cake. Not inspired cooking but delicious.
A newlywed, I wanted to make food, my husband would like. I made lots of mistakes but I kept plugging away. We lived in an apartment with a surprisingly large living room, good sized bedroom, decent dining area and a tiny, tiny, tiny kitchen. When I stood in the middle of the room, I could touch everything in the room. I opened the oven door to bang it, into the refrigerator. It is good that I did not own many small appliances or mixing bowls. Little storage space as you can imagine.
I remember my first special dinner. It was just for the two of us and it was a chopped meat casserole. I had gone through a multitude of steps, following a recipe meticulously. I was feeling proud and joyous - this was a first. I couldn't wait for him to arrive home so I could treat him to this special meal.
The table was set nicely. I think, I remember a salad to go with the meat. All was waiting for us to sit down and I was sure, he would love what I made.
So far, so good. Everything was ready to go. We were going to sit down and I went to get the meal. I opened the oven. It banged into the refrigerator. I bent down, lifted the casserole, closed the oven door with my hip and dropped the casserole which splattered all over the floor. The dish shattered into a million pieces (this was traumatic...I am allowed to exaggerate.) Meat spattered on the outside of the cabinets and refrigerator. In stead of dinner, I had a mess.
I was young, in my early twenties and I still feel the devastation, for my lost meal. I just broke one of my few baking dishes and it did not phase me but oh that cooked dish is what I cried about as well as my feelings of failure. Most of all, I thought, I missed the moment sharing with my husband but the truth be told, his comforting me was worth even more.
That was the beginning of my cooking, that and my taking the string off the rolled roast.
Now, it is 2010, and I am again cooking pepper steak, this one adapted from a recipe from Rachel Ray.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 2 turns of the pan
- 2 pounds sliced beef
- Coarse salt
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 green bell peppers, chopped
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 cup dry sherry – eyeball it
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
Preheat a large skillet over high heat. Add vegetable oil to really hot pan. Add meat and sear on all sides, 5 minutes. Season with salt and remove to a plate.
Cover meat loosely with foil to hold heat. Reduce heat on pan to medium. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to pan. Add peppers and a little onion. Saute peppers and onions 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and cook 1 minute longer.
Whisk in sherry and start to pick up pan drippings. Whisk in broth and continue whisking. Add tomato and black pepper. Slide meat back into the pan and coat with sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes.
I served with rice pilaf. My husband finished up the leftovers tonight with our regular dinner. He liked it and I didn't drop it. That is progress. :)