Strip Steaks and Blue Cheese Spaghetti

As I’ve said before, I love cheese, and this recipe featuring blue cheese spaghetti had me intrigued. Blue cheese? With pasta? And steak? It sounded brilliant. I had to give it a whirl. The result was rich and delicious and made me feel like I should be drinking a dirty martini. (Tip #1: serve this meal with a dirty martini.)

Why a martini? This dish has big flavors that would stand up to it. The steak is hearty and delicious, cooked to a perfect medium rare. And the pasta is quite the accompaniment. The blue cheese is bold and pungent, and once you add in some spicy arugula and top the pasta with bacon, it packs even more punch.

TW’s Tips

  • The garlic chive butter to top the steaks makes a lot — wrap the extra in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to use later on veggies or warmed up bread.
  • I’d cut the pasta in half — it makes a TON and it’s really rich, so I ended up having to throw a lot of it away. And, it’s better when you first cook it, versus reheated.

Ingredients

  • 4 slices bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • Salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 4 (8-ounce) NY strip steaks
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup cream or half-and-half, eyeball it
  • 8 ounces blue cheese crumbles
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chives, chopped, a palm full
  • 2 cups arugula, a small bunch, cleaned, trimmed and shredded

Directions

Put a large pot of water on the stove to bring to a boil for pasta.

Preheat broiler to high with rack on top shelf.

Preheat medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped bacon and cook until crisp.

Salt water for pasta and add spaghetti to the pot. Cook to al dente, with a bite to it.

Season the steaks with salt and pepper on both sides and arrange on slotted broiler pan.

Remove bacon to paper towel lined plate with a slotted spoon and drain off most of the fat, return pan to heat and reduce heat to medium. Add extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan and 1 tablespoon butter. When butter melts into extra-virgin olive oil, add in 2 cloves garlic and the shallots, saute for 3 minutes.

Arrange steaks on the broiler pan. Place under broiler – leave door to oven cracked ajar to limit flare ups and smoke. Cook 4 minutes on each side for medium rare, up to 5 to 6 minutes on each side for medium well doneness.

To the garlic and shallots, add in flour and cook a minute more. Whisk in stock, bring to a bubble, about 30 seconds then stir in the cream. When cream comes to a bubble, add in blue cheese and sage and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir until cheese melts. Reduce heat to lowest setting.

Soften 4 tablespoons butter in microwave on high for 15 seconds. Mix in chives and 2 cloves minced garlic and reserve.

Remove steaks from oven and let rest 5 minutes. Place 1/4 of the chive and garlic butter mixture on each steak to melt down over the meat as they rest.

Drain pasta and toss with sauce to coat and combine evenly. Taste to adjust seasoning.

Serve steaks with pasta alongside. Scatter the arugula and bacon bits across the top of the pasta.

Fieri Spaghetti and Meatballs

Classic spaghetti and meatballs? Check!

This version is from Guy Fieri — I got his “Food” cookbook for Christmas — and these are some goooood meatballs. Brace yourself for a lot of ingredients, but it’ll be worth it — it results in some pretty amazing flavor. They were juicy, moist and pretty darn spicy. By sauteing the red pepper, onion and garlic first and adding it to the mix, it adds great flavor without having to worry if the veggies will cook through when you’re cooking the meatballs. Nobody likes crunch in a meatball, right?

This is the perfect Italian comfort food meal, and it makes a BIG bowl of pasta. I cut the amount of pasta in half (to one pound) and it was still plenty.

TW’s Tips

  • If you don’t like a spicy meatball (say it in an Italian accent), cut back on the red chili  flakes (crushed red pepper flake)
  • Cooking these things (meatballs) isn’t easy — some of mine started falling apart. Be patient and turn them gently. And don’t be obsessed with them being perfect spheres. This was my problem. Perfectionist? Maybe…
  • I had some leftover homemade marinara in the freezer that I defrosted for the sauce.  If you need a recipe, here’s a good one by Giada De Laurentiis. Otherwise, go for a good jarred sauce and doctor it up with some herbs and spices.
Serve this up with a nice green salad, big glass of red wine and garlic bread, and you’ll feel like you’re eating like Tony Soprano. Or the cast from Jersey Shore. Or Giovanni. Whatever floats your boat. Buon appetito!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup 1/2 inch diced sourdough bread cubes
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb pork sausage
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh oregano
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 to 6 cups Marinara sauce
  • 2 lbs spaghetti noodles
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Directions

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the extra virgin olive oil. Cook the onion, bell pepper and chili flakes for 2 min. Add the garlic and salt and cook until tender, about 4 min. Transfer the veggies to a large bowl and let cool.

Meanwhile, pour the milk over the bread and let soak for 5 minutes. Drain off the milk and lightly squeeze the bread, so that it is moist but not wet.

To the bowl with the cooled veggies, add everything (meat, herbs, bread, eggs) and mix thoroughly but gently and shape into 2 inch balls. The more gentle you are, the more tender the meatballs will be.

In the same pan used for the veggies, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the meatballs in batches, browning completely. Continue to cook until the internal temperature reaches 165F or an instant read thermometer.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and bring the cook the spaghetti noodles al dente, according to the package directions. Bring the marinara sauce to a simmer over low heat. Drain the noodles and toss with about 2 cups of the marinara sauce.

Portion individual plates and add more sauce and 3 meatballs per person, and garnish with shredded Parmesan.