How to Cook a Wolf Week, Day 5: Cook for the Carnivorous

The perfect flank steak.

Breakfast was oatmeal with maple syrup and butter; a combo that had never occurred to me before Fisher, and one I will make again.  Lunch was a smidge of leftover polenta.  Dinner was the best dinner I’ve had in a long time.

This recipe is not really a recipe in Wolf, but more of a note between paragraphs.  It’s in the revised addition, written twelve years after the original, when Fisher slips in a few more decadent recipes:

When I am cook for the carnivorous, my true salute to them is a beef fillet, of about four pounds.  I turn it for at least three hours in a garlicky marinade, half olive oil, half soy sauce.  I roast it on a rack for one half hour in a very hot oven.  I slice it one inch thick, slip generous wedges of maitre d’hotel butter between each slice, pour a good cup of red wine over the whole, and serve it in its various hot juices.

This was not a meal to be enjoyed alone.  I called up friends with a dinner invite and then set off to the grocery store to select my meat.  I ended up with a flank steak of about four pounds.  I didn’t read the read the recipe carefully enough and forgot to make the marinade until 30 minutes before I needed to cook it.  In the marinade, I put lots of freshly minced garlic, and half and half oil and soy sauce.  That’s it.

I cranked my oven to broil, and nestled the steak into a cast iron pan, then set it in the oven for 10 minutes, flipping it half way (cook for less time if you like your steaks on the rare side). I let it rest ten minutes, sliced it, and adorned it with butter.  No wine, as Fisher suggests.  I’m not a teetotaller, just an impoverished artist, so there is seldom a spare bottle of wine sitting around.

The steak was served with a side of sauteed swiss chard, and buttered bread with Parmesan cheese.  It. Was. Heavenly.  The short marinade time didn’t seem to matter.  It was perfectly salty, perfectly flavorful.  It was perfect.  It was beyond perfect–this may be one of the best things I have ever cooked.

And for dessert? “…Thick slices of fresh pineapple, soaked for several hours in an Alsatian kirschwasser, and then topped with a sherbet made with lime juice.”  The pineapple I got fresh from the grocer, the kirsch was sitting in the back of the liquor cabinet.  I soaked the pineapple slices overnight, then made a quick sorbet using bottled Key Lime Juice (the good stuff they sell for key lime pie) and this recipe.  I own an ice cream maker and it’s  brought me so much joy.

We ate every bite of this boozy dessert, slurping up the melted sorbet and kirschy pineapple juice at the bottom of our bowls.  We were drunk, fat, and happy.

Ms. Fisher writes a lot about keeping the Wolf at bay.  The Wolf is not just a metaphor for hunger; it represents despair and defeat.   Fisher’s dishes are good food made quickly and easily from the simplest ingredients.  While cooking them, I felt alive and accomplished; I felt hopeful and unbeatable; I felt that if I could feed myself this well, this cheap, then I could stop the Wolf from sniffing at my door.

3 thoughts on “How to Cook a Wolf Week, Day 5: Cook for the Carnivorous

  1. I am loving your affair with MFK. She really did know how to keep all sorts of wolves away from the door. I read that people were always surprised when they ate with her. The wine was not fancy, the food was not fussy yet everything was great. Something to aspire to!

  2. Agreed! This is the end of my week of eating her food, but there are a few more recipes I want to try in the near future: a simple potato soup, and a cake made with tomato soup!

  3. I love this! I just finished writing a book about M.F.K. Fisher, but have yet to cook much using her recipes. Thanks for the inspiration, and also for sharing Fisher with the masses.

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