Christmas Dinner: Don't Knock the Steak

350227_4487.jpgBy Matthew Stafford

Christmas dinner is the great afterthought of the holiday season. So much time is spent shopping and card-writing and party-going and eggnog-sipping, there's barely enough time to think about what to eat for supper once the presents are unwrapped and the stockings are emptied.

Choosing a holiday menu under these circumstances can be problematic, especially if you're opting for something on the traditional side. In my family we've tried standing rib roast (awesome), baked ham with cloves and apricot preserves (always a winner), stuffed turkey (yawn) and even roast goose (don't believe the hype); and after years, decades, of compare and contrast we've more or less settled on planked porterhouse steak.

I know, I know, there was no planked porterhouse steak at Plymouth Plantation or in the collected works of Charles Dickens, and it's barely mentioned at all at caroling time, but it's a dish that admirably meets the prerequisites of a top-shelf festive centerpiece.

A beautifully charred steak bordered in potato puree and fresh lime is a striking sight, ideal conveyed upon bedecked platter to linen'd groaning board; it's big enough to warrant carving with the good family silver; it's absolutely delicious; and it's easy to prepare, requiring little more thought or energy than a quick trip to the butcher and less than an hour in the kitchen. Simply broil a 2" thick porterhouse for three minutes on each side and place on an ovenproof platter (or a thick, rustic, well-soaked plank if you have one).

Prepare mashed potatoes with plenty of butter and light cream (one potato per person) and spoon it around the sides of the steak. Bake 10 minutes in a 450-degree oven, brush the potatoes with melted butter and return to the oven for another minute or two or three or four, depending on how rare you like your steak. Brush with more butter, salt and pepper to taste, garnish with chopped parsley and quartered limes and serve to great acclaim.
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