Marinated Flank Steak with Smiley-Face Potatoes

(Marie made an interesting supper the other night. It was not a complete success, but at least one of the children adored it.)

This is about two things, because neither is really enough on its own. I really like this marinade for flank steak, and the girlchild had fallen in love with this recipe for smiley face potatoes.

Both were, to be honest, a bit more of a struggle than they should have been. I’ve made this flank steak recipe for years, and my siblings enjoy it too; it’s a really nice simple recipe that is probably only a step or two away from teriyaki sauce, as the proportions and main ingredients are similar. However, there were issues at work that kept me from having enough time to make this on the intended evening so it went in the freezer and thawed again in the marinade. I was expecting it to be a little overly flavored, but it turned out just right. Grant doesn’t care much for the chewiness that often afflicts flank steak, but I don’t mind it and the marinade does pretty well at getting rid of the worst of it. Do make sure to slice off any of the silvery film clinging to the outside – that’s not going to get softer under the influence of soy sauce and acid; take a very sharp knife, slice away enough to grab, and work the knife parallel to the meat while pulling away. Your mouth will thank you later. I’m afraid I may have missed some, you see, which is why the reminder for you.

The main obstacle to the success of the potatoes was my failure to bookmark the recipe to read on my lunch hour before coming home. If I’d done that, I’d have known to have the girlchild, who’d requested the recipe and was therefore responsible for the generation of the workload, do the potato boiling that needed to have been done ahead of time! As it was, I rushed around like a loon and wound up not using her help as much as she’d have liked, though she did end up doing over half of the prep (we are falling far behind on the goal set years ago of getting her ready to cook for herself by doing some independent meals for the family). I also made waaay too much mashed potato because I said to myself, “My potatoes are kind of small. They must have meant those mondo mega Hulk potatoes”. No. Do not do this. I threw away a lot of potatoes completely unnecessarily. They are asking for normal sized potatoes for this recipe.

Peel, boil, and mash the potatoes with the dry ingredients. You are looking to make essentially potato dough – it needs to be putty-like, not mashed-potato-like in its consistency. Make sure to have parchment paper on hand, as it will stick to everything even if you do have the correct consistency. And use your cookie-making skills; chill the dough before you cut it. This is a recipe that does best if you do advance work. If you like them a lot, you could probably even make a large batch and freeze part. I was rushing things a bit and had my oil rather hotter than they had it in the video; I also had to use more flour than the recipe called for to tame my dough, what with the loss of chilling time. So mine browned rather faster and more thoroughly than yours might. They still worked, though.

Smiley potatoes:
2 potatoes
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ cup flour
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon salt
1½ teaspoon pepper
1 egg
1 48-oz bottle vegetable oil

Peel, cube, and boil the potatoes. Mash with egg, corn starch, flour, salt & pepper, and breadcrumbs (add no liquid). Set aside more flour for rolling. Roll dough between floured sheets of parchment paper to about 1/4 inch thickness, and chill. While it’s chilling, get a wide, deep pan or skillet and put in the oil. Cut like cookies and lay them on another sheet of parchment paper. Cut out eyes with a straw, and make the smiles by pressing a small spoon into the dough and roll it around a bit. I found it most effective to pick up each round and place it so the smile was lined up with the gap between two fingers, so the spoon would go all the way through the dough and open up the smiley mouth. Make sure the oil is hot but not super hot – the recipe calls for 350 degrees.

Turn the rounds once while cooking, and remove to drain on paper towels (or cookie sheets laid over paper towels if you don’t want them piping hot) when they are an acceptable level of brown. The recipe suggests 1 hour of prep and 30 minutes total of cooking time, half of which is the rounds in the oil, but I was rushing and able to compress that to around an hour (part of the “chill” stage was in the freezer). Like I said, not the most elegant of procedures, but for a first attempt it wasn’t quite “Pinterest Fail” level.

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup oil
enough ginger and garlic to make you happy – can be either fresh or powdered, but powder dissolves better into the marinade.

The flank steak was thankfully very easy, since all the prep for that had gone well before. All I had to do was fire up the grill and step away for a minute or two a couple of times to lay the thawed and marinated steaks on, turn partway through, and retrieve. Grills are wonderful. If the potatoes had been done ahead of time except for the frying stage, this would have been an easy, stress-free dinner and everyone would have eaten on time!

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