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Serving up steak for the Navy

The Navy’s newest cooks are being trained at the Culinary Institute of America. Check out some of the recipes they demonstrate on “Today.”
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These days, the U.S. Navy’s newest cooks are being schooled at none other than the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. It’s part of an experiment called Task Force Excel, where the Navy uses civilian expertise to upgrade the training of its personnel. The goal: a better trained force for the Navy, and a brighter future for the sailor. For one class of cooks from the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt battle group, their three-week course will also mean a happier crew at sea. Check out some of the recipes they demonstrate on “Today,” below.


For the stuffing:

4 tbsp butter

1 cup mushrooms, diced

6 cups fresh spinach, chopped

1 cup soft bread crumbs

1/2 lb veal, ground

Eggs, 2 each

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Salt to taste

Black pepper, ground to taste

1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated

For the steak:

2 Flank steak

6 Tbsp olive oil

2 small onions, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

4 Tbsp tomato puree

6 Tbsp flour

1 cup red wine vinegar

2 to 3 cups beef broth

1 Bay leaf


1. To make stuffing, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a sauté pan over high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until juices are cooked away. Transfer to a mixing bowl and let cool. Return sauté pan to heat. Add remaining butter if necessary, then add the spinach, a few handfuls at a time. Sauté over high heat just until spinach wilts. Use a slotted spoon to add spinach to the mushrooms. Let the spinach/mushroom mixture cool, then blend in the ground veal, bread crumbs, egg, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Keep refrigerated until ready to stuff the flank steaks.

2. To butterfly the flank steaks, place them flat on a work surface. With a sharp, thin-bladed knife, make a cut horizontally through the steak, leaving one edge intact. Open flank steak, season with salt and pepper, and spread the cut side with an even layer of stuffing. Roll steak around the stuffing, overlapping seams to completely enclose it. Use twine to wrap and tie the flank steak, or secure the seam with skewers.

3. Preheat oven to 325 F.

4. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or similar flame- and oven-proof casserole with a tight-fitting lid. Add flank steak and sear to a deep brown on all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove flank steak from oven and keep warm.

5. Add onion and carrot and cook over medium heat until onions are tender and golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add tomato puree and sauté until the tomato is a deep brick red and has a sweet aroma, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is pasty, about 2 to 3 minutes.

6. Add vinegar and 1 cup of the broth. Whisk well to work out any lumps, bring to a simmer and return the flank steak to the casserole. Add bay leaf and additional broth if necessary; the flank steak should be halfway submerged in the braising liquid. Cover oven tightly with a lid or aluminum foil. Place in oven and braise until meat is fork tender, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Transfer steak to a platter and let rest for a few minutes before slicing, while completing the sauce.

7. Strain the braising liquid into a clean sauce pan and bring to a full boil. Skim away any fat from surface. Continue to simmer until sauce is lightly thickened and flavorful, about 5 minutes. If necessary, thicken sauce by swirling in a small amount of diluted cornstarch. Adjust the sauce’s seasoning if necessary with salt and pepper.

8. Remove and discard the string or skewers from the flank steak. Use a slicer to cut steak into slices, and serve with sauce.

POTATOES AU GRATIN Yield: 10 Portions

3 1/4 Idaho potatoes

3 cups milk

1 Tbsp salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

2 Tbsp butter

1 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese


1. Scrub and peel potatoes. Remove any eyes or green spots. Cut potatoes crosswise into 1/8-inch thick slices using a very sharp knife.

2. Combine potatoes, milk, salt and pepper in a large pot and simmer over moderate heat for 10 minutes or just until they begin to soften.

3. Butter an 11- by 9-inch baking pan. Arrange potatoes in even layers in the pan, alternating with a ladle full of the milk mixture. Top with grated cheese.

4. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake in a 350F preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until potatoes are completely tender. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until tops are lightly browned.

5. Remove potatoes from oven and let them rest at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

GLAZED CARROTS Yield: 10 Portions

3 lbs carrots, miniature

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter

2 cups stock, chicken

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

4 Tbsp Light brown sugar

4 Tbsp Honey


1. Heat a 12-inch sauté pan with butter over medium heat until butter is melted and hot, but not yet browning. Add carrots and sauté for 10 minutes or until bright orange in color.

2. Remove pan from heat and add to it chicken stock, salt and pepper. Return pan to heat and continue to cook over a moderate flame, simmering mixture until carrots are tender.

3. Add brown sugar and honey. Stir using a wooden spoon to combine. Simmer until liquid reduces, thickens and coats the carrots.

4. Serve warm.

Recipes provided by the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Copyright 2002. All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission. For more information you can visit the CIA Web site at: or the U.S. Navy’s Task Force Excel Web site at: