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The character Janette Desautel plays a starring role in the new Treme cookbook. Her vignettes of restaurant life, penned by show writer Lolis Eric Elie, describe many of the challenges inherent to operating a successful post-Katrina business.
One obstacle, albeit a small one, was trying to fit an innovative steak recipe on her menu. Instead of choosing to sell filet mignon with potatoes, she drew inspiration from her character's mentor, David Chang. Filet was replaced with flavorful hanger, potatoes substituted with crispy sushi rice cakes, and A1 was switched out for a spicy soy glaze. Alongside the steak, Desautel serves barely wilted pea shoots tossed in the glaze.
Why I picked this recipe: What's not to love about a dinner of beefy steak, crispy rice, and tender greens?
What worked: The rice cakes were the big(gest) winner here—frying the chilled rice not only lends textural contrast, but also adds a deep nuttiness to the crust that I simply couldn't believe came from the rice itself.
What didn't: No problems here.
Suggested tweaks: If you can't find hanger steaks, you could substitute an equal weight of flank steak for the hanger. However, the cooking time may change, so pay attention to your thermometer and pull the steak out of the oven at 120 to 125 degrees. You can also substitute spinach for the pea shoots.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and Berkeleyside NOSH, and she blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.