The Show-Me State

In addition to being National Missouri Day, today is also the feast day of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. As a great American Saint, I would be remiss not to mention her special day. If you are interested in learning more about the Patron Saint of Catholic Schools, Seafarers and Widows please check out last year’s offering. This year we are all about the days of Christmas and the Show Me State.

America obtained what would one day become the Show Me State as part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Some say Missouri earned its nickname in 1899 when Congressman Willard Duncan Vandver stated proudly, “I’m from Missouri, and you’ve got to show me.” His sentiment captured the self-deprecating stubbornness and devotion to simple common sense Missouri’s citizens are known for.

The most stubborn of Missouri’s residents had to be Valentine Tapley from Pike County, Missouri. A stanch Democrat, Tapley swore that he would never shave again if Abe Lincoln were to win the Presidential Election. In November of 1860, Mr. Tapley stopped shaving. When he died in 1910, his bears had attained a length of twelve feet six inches. Now that’s stubborn dedication.

When Americans think earthquakes, we think California. And while it’s true that California is one shaky place, four of the largest quakes in North America’s history occurred from December 1811 to February 1812 near New Madrid, Missouri. The largest of these quakes was an 8.0 magnitude that shook more than one million square miles and rattled people as far away as 1,000 miles.

Missouri is also home to the most destructive tornado in U.S. History. Named the Tri-State Tornado, this killer touched down on March 18, 1925. It demolished an estimated 15.000 homes throughout Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. The town of Annapolis, Missouri was nearly 90 percent destroyed. In all, 695 people in three states lost their lives and another 2,000 were injured.

That might explain why Missouri was once home to the only operating restaurant inside a cave. This place was known for everything fried, from Chicken Fried Steaks, Fried Pickles, Deep Fried Macaroni and Cheese Balls and Fried Calf Testacies. Unfortunately for us, it seems the Cave Restaurant and Resort closed its door permanently in 2015.

When we think Missouri dining, we tend to think Kansas City Barbecue and Saint Louis Ribs. But there is more to Missouri. Beef productions has always been a big part of the state’s economy. Missouri ranks in the top ten for beef inventory and beef farms, exporting the majority of their meats to nearby Nebraska. Missouri is also famous for their Black Walnut Orchards. Naturally, I couldn’t settle for the typical when pulling together a menu inspired by the Show-Me State.

Show-Me Menu
Pan-Seared Steaks with Red Wine Pan Sauce
Oven-Baked Rosemary-Garlic Steak Fries
Missouri Banana-Black Walnut Cake with Caramel Frosting

Pan-Seared Steaks with Red Wine Pan Sauce
The Steaks
4 (8 oz) Sirloin Steaks, about 3/4- to 1-inch thick
Kosher Salt to taste
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
Canola oil
Olive oil
6 Garlic Cloves, roughly smashed
1/2 cup Butter, cubed
4 sprigs fresh Thyme
4 sprigs fresh Rosemary

Remove steaks from the refrigerator and let rest to come to room temperature. Pat them dry with paper towels. Season the steaks liberally with kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper on all sides and press into meat. Let seasoned meat rest for approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

Place a large high-sided cast iron skillet (large enough hold the steaks comfortably) over high heat. When pan is extremely hot, pour in approximately 2 to 3 tablespoons of canola oil and shake pan to make sure entire bottom of skillet is coated.

When oil begins to smoke slightly, using tongs, carefully lay the steaks into the pan, laying them down away from you (this will avoid oil spatters). Turn the pan as necessary to lay the steaks in place.

Press down slightly on meat. Let steaks sear, without moving it, for roughly 2 minutes until a golden brown crust develops, then drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil into the pan. The crust will form and then detach from the bottom of the pan.

Using tongs, carefully flip steak and let cook for another two minutes. Drizzle another tablespoon of olive oil on and around the meat.

Once the crust has formed, set the steaks on the fat strip that runs along the side of the sirloin. Steaks can be set side-by-side against the edge of the pan. Render off the fat for roughly 90 seconds. Tilt the pan towards the steaks so the oil and hot fat will continue to baste and cook the meat. Then set steaks down flat, side by side in pan.

While the steaks are sizzling, peel and smash the garlic, set aside. Cube the butter, set aside.

When steaks are ready, add the smashed garlic cloves and approximately 1-1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Tilt pan to make sure the oil touches all of the meat. Add rosemary and thyme. You can again add an additional drizzle of olive oil.

Add butter to the pan, a few chunks at a time, placing them on either side of the steaks, above them, between them and below. As the butter begins to melt, bubble and brown, give the pan a swirl, tilting slightly towards you so that all of the melted butter and juice collects towards you in the skillet.

Using a spoon, thoroughly baste the steak with the butter and juices at the bottom of the pan. Carefully flip the steaks and repeat, basting frequently.

While basting, using tongs, periodically brush the steaks with the herbs and garlic from the pan. The steaks can then be basted with the herbs and garlic on top. Flip the steaks and repeat, brushing the surface with garlic and herbs and basting over them (during the basting process, continually check the surface tension of the meat to check the doneness. Use the palm of your hand as a gauge: soft part of the thumb is rare, moving towards the finger is medium-rare and well done is down by your wrist.)

When a crust has formed, and you have a soft texture with a little bit of resistance, ideally medium-rare, turn off the heat, and remove the steaks from the skillet, place on a cutting board. Place fried herbs and garlic on top of steak, drizzle steaks with pan drippings, loosely covered with foil or a large metal bowl turned upside down and let rest for 10 minutes. While the steaks rest, make the sauce.

The Sauce
3 Shallots
3 Garlic Cloves
1-1/2 cup Red Wine, such as Cabernet
2/3 cup Beef Stock
4 tablespoons Butter

Peel and finely chop the shallots and garlic. Using the pan in which the steaks were cooked earlier, pour off all but 2 teaspoons of fat and the flavorful browned bits adhering to the bottom, and place over medium-high heat.

Using a wooden spatula, scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and, stirring constantly, add finely chopped shallots and garlic.

Add 1 cup of red wine and keep stirring and reducing the sauce.

Continuing to stir, add beef stock (you can also use a quarter cup of beef stock and add whatever reserved steak juices you have).

Add the butter, reduce heat to medium and keep stirring so the butter does not break.

Slice steaks. Transfer to a platter, garnish with fresh rosemary. Drizzle steaks tableside with wine sauce.

Oven-Baked Rosemary Garlic Steak Fries
6 large Russet Potatoes
olive oil
2 Garlic Cloves
4 Rosemary Sprigs, divided
Kosher Salt to taste

Position the oven rack at its highest level. Heat oven to 450-degrees. Line a large rimmed baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Wash, dry and cut potatoes into uniformed wedges. Place potato wedges in a large mixing bowl.Drizzle potatoes with olive oil and stir to coat and set aside.

Peel garlic, mince and sprinkle over the potatoes.Strip the needles from 2 sprigs of rosemary. Mince the needles and sprinkle over the potatoes. Toss to coat, distributing the garlic and rosemary.

Lay potato wedges flat on the prepared pan. Season potatoes liberally with salt.

Place in the oven on the upper rack. Bake approximately 15 – 25 minutes until underside of steak fries are golden brown.

Remove from oven, and gently loosen steak fries with spatula, turning each one over. Bake approximately 5-10 minutes more until underside is golden brown.

Remove from oven and serve immediately, garnishing with extra rosemary sprigs.

Missouri Banana-Black Walnut Cake with Caramel Frosting
The Cake
1 cup chopped Black Walnuts
2 cups Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 cup solid Vegetable Shortening
1 1/2 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
2 ripe Bananas, mashed
1/4 cup Buttermilk
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Chop walnuts, set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour and baking soda; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream together shortening and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Peel and mash the bananas. Mix mashed bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla inthe the creamed sugar mixture. Add flour mixture, mix until just combined. Stir in black walnuts.

Pour into prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool in pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely.

While the cakes cool, prepare the frosting.

The Frosting
2 cups chopped Black Walnuts
16 oz Powdered Sugar, sifted
1/2 cup Butter, softened
1 cup packed Dark Brown Sugar
1/3 cup Heavy Cream, plus more as necessary
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract

Finely chop the walnuts, set aside. Sift the powdered sugar, set aside.

Melt butter in small saucepan. Add brown sugar and 1/3 cup cream. Cook over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Transfer to a large bowl.

Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat in powdered sugar a little at a time until smooth. If frosting is too thick, add 1 tablespoon heavy cream at a time until consistency is right.

To assemble, cut the crown off one of the cake layers. Place layer, cut side down, on a cake platter. Spread some frosting on top. Place the remaining cake over the first, dome-side up. Frost the top and sides of the cake.

Press the chopped walnut on the sides and top of the cake as desired.

Serve and enjoy.

NOTE: For an authentic Missouri Cake DO NOT substitute English walnuts for black walnuts.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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