Sunday, April 20, 2008

Let's go to Outback tonight

Little known fact: I actually worked at Outback for about three months when I first moved to Texas. Unfortunately, I started working at the one in Addison which didn't have as much traffic as the others and they wouldn't let me switch, so...I finally ended up quitting because I wasn't making much in tips with only 2-3 tables a night.

But one of the best things that I did get out of working there was the best way to make awesome baked potatoes. One of the cooks told me that the reason why baked potatoes are often rolled in salt is because it draws out the moisture from the potato and makes them very fluffy on the inside.

Outback-Style Bakers

Russett baking potatoes
salted butter, melted (use about one Tbsp for every potato you are making)
kosher salt

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Scrub the potatoes well to get all of the dirt off the skins. Prick potatoes several times with a fork. Use a pastry brush to brush butter all over potatoes until well-coated. Sprinkle kosher salt on all surfaces of the potato. If you want to eat the potato skins, do not roll the potato in salt as they will be too salty. Bake at 425 degrees for one hour. Serve with your choice of toppings. (My favorite toppings are butter, sour cream and shredded Cheddar.)

What I like best about these potatoes: They take almost no time to prepare and get in the oven and they are great if you are grilling out. Just put them in the oven before you get ready to start preheating the grill and if they are ready early, just turn the oven down to 250 degrees to keep them warm. You don't have to use foil if you don't want to, but it will save your cookie sheet if you do and make clean up a snap.
What I dislike about these potatoes: The fantastic taste can NOT be duplicated in the microwave, so these aren't a quick dish to make. But the length of time is completely worth the effort.
Cool kitchen gadgets used: I have a silicone pastry brush which is fantastic to make these.
Tastiness factor: Incredible and SO delicious. I have never served to them to anyone who didn't like them.

Herb-Marinated Steak

2 lb sirloin steak
1 tsp onion salt
1/2 c white vinegar
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1 tsp fresh tarragon, minced
1 tsp fresh dill weed, minced
1 tsp fresh sage, minced

Rub both sides of the steak with onion salt and place in a shallow dish. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over steak. Cover and marinate at least one hour or overnight. Grill or broil steak until desired temperature is reached, brushing steak frequently with marinade.

What I liked about this recipe: Very easy to make the marinade. You can also use 1/4 tsp of dried herbs instead of the fresh.
What I disliked about this recipe: A little too much vinegar in my opinion.
Cool kitchen gadgets used: I have an 11x7 glass baking dish that was perfect for marinating the steak.
Tastiness factor: I can not believe I scalped my tarragon plant for this dish. Very, very tasteless. I got more flavor out of the charcoal than from the herbs. I don't know if it was because I opted to use fresh herbs or not. I did not enjoy this as I have other marinades, but it wasn't offensive. Just not as flavorful as I would have preferred. The steak was tender though, probably from the vinegar.

Garlic Ranch Chicken

1 c Ranch dressing
2 Tbsp garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh basil, minced
4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Combine dressing, garlic and basil. Place chicken in a Ziploc. Add marinade and turn to coat. Squeeze out air, seal bag and refrigerate up to 24 hours until ready to grill. Grill chicken for 15 minutes on each side.

What I liked about this recipe: Pretty easy to make, really, and you can either use bottled Ranch dressing or make your own with buttermilk and mayo. I opted to make my own fresh and I think it made a big difference since I don't care for bottled Ranch dressing.
What I disliked about this recipe: It makes a wee mess on your grill, so make sure you have a brush or something to clean up with afterwards.
Cool kitchen gadgets used: I used my mezzaluna to mince the basil. First time harvesting basil!
Tastiness factor: Very, very good. Not sure what the creaminess of the marinade did for the chicken, but it sure made it tender and flavorful. Great dish...definitely one that I would make again. The recipe said that it recommends you serve Ranch on the side for dipping, but we didn't even need that.


Blogger Kelley said...

That's a great tip about the potatoes, I'll try that next time I make them.

12:04 PM  
Anonymous dleighb said...

I, too, will try that tip about the salt on the potatoes the next time I make them.

Also, DH and I have heard some really good reviews about Town and Country that supplies meats and such. Our friends say they end up costing less per month than getting meat at the store and the meat is excellent. Let me know if you are interested. DH and I are going to try them out soon.

12:34 PM  
Blogger Miss Perry said...

Do you roll the potatoes up in a foil "blanket"? Or do you just put the potatoes straight into the oven? When I order outback to-go, they are rolled up in foil. Just curious. Thanks.

8:05 PM  

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