The Friday Football Foodie – Steak Fingers
I’ve been to Texas, oh, I’d say about a dozen times in my life. Maybe more. And I’ve been to Idaho, you know, for about 10 minutes that one time my dad accidentally drove the wrong way out of Yellowstone Park. But until this summer, I had never heard of their common cuisine. What do those two states have in common, aside them both of being home to college football powerhouses that like to complain about not getting enough respect?
Steak fingers. Or in Idaho-speak, finger steaks. (I’m going with “steak fingers” instead of “finger steaks” because the latter sounds like a George Romero recipe.)
Until this summer, I had never heard of steak fingers. But I happened to be at an old-fashioned drive-in diner in Albuquerque this summer and there they were on the menu, steak fingers. (Served with salsa verde, which seems to be what they put on everything in New Mexico, except when they’re putting salsa roja on everything else.) You could have knocked me over with a chicken feather, I just couldn’t believe such a food existed. Oh sure, at its heart — and the heart of whomever eats them — steak fingers are fun-sized chicken fried steaks. But to eat a whole basket of them?
For weeks after first seeing them in Albuquerque, I researched the steak finger. In New Mexico they’re served with salsa, in Texas they come with country gravy, and in Idaho, ranch dressing. I looked at recipe after recipe. I probably spent more time reading up on steak fingers than I did preparing for fantasy football.
Turns out, they are delicious. But they are not something you would want to make all the time, because as my friend Jeremy pointed out, one cannot help “recalling every word of Richard Pryor’s heart attack routine” after eating steak fingers.
You will need:
2 pounds beef sirloin steak tenders, cut into strips, seasoned with salt, pepper, and flour; pounded to be a 1/4 thin.
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Herb and spice mixture. (Everyone has their own seasons they like to use in batter, and this mixture has served me well over the years for chicken, and now steak: 1 teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, Old Bay, dried oregano, ground pepper, kosher salt.)
2 cups all-purpose flour
Herb and spice mixture (use the same as with the buttermilk marinade.)
3-4 cups vegetable or canola oil for frying, enough for at least an 1 to 2 inches of oil at the bottom of a heavy frying pan or to fill a deep fryer.
In a large bowl, mix together until smooth the egg, buttermilk, spice mixture and 1/2 cup flour. Let rest for a few minutes to thicken. While the batter stands, trim the steak into fingerlings, season with salt and pepper, and pound to be 1/4 inch thick. To help the buttermilk batter “stick” to the beef better, lightly sprinkle flour on the meat before pounding thin.
Soak the beef in the batter for at least an hour in the refrigerator.
In another large bowl, mix 2 cups flour and the same spice and herb mixture used in the batter. Shake the excess buttermilk dressing off of each steak finger and dredge through the flour mixture. After dredging once, feel free to go back and run the steak fingers through the flour mixture a second time if you like for a thicker coating.
Place the battered steak fingers in the freezer for about an hour better frying results. You can also do all of these steps a day or two a head of time and leave wrapped in the freezer until game day.
Heat oil in either a deep fryer or a heavy frying pan to 375º. You can test to to see your if your oil is ready by tossing a pinch of flour into the pan. It should sizzle and burn off instantly when the oil is hot enough to fry.
Working in small batches, fry the steak fingers for about 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Make sure to reheat your oil between each batch, as a cooler oil does not fry the meat as quickly or the breading as crisply. Drain the steak fingers on paper towels to remove the excess grease.
Serve with either ranch dressing, country gravy, salsa verde, any combination of the above.
Feel free to skip the next couple of meals after snacking on steak fingers during the game.
What about you guys?
What games are you watching and what are you making this weekend? Anyone thinking about making the Mint Julep “Jelly” Shots?
We’re heading to the LA Craft Beer Crawl on Saturday, so we’re going to miss the Oregon State-Boise St and South Carolina-Auburn but I am hoping to catch at least the first half of Alabama-Arkansas before we head downtown. Sunday is obviously Steelers-Bucs with an eye on the Giants-Titans game, then Colts-Broncos and Jets-Dolphins. Not sure what I’m making for football yet on Sunday, but I’m leaning towards something simple and substantial since after sampling more than 50 beers at the beer crawl, we’re not going to be in much shape to do much of anything and are going to want something heavy in our stomachs. Any recommendations?
Don’t forget to add your pictures to Football Foodies Flickr Group from last weekend and be sure to get some new shots this weekend.