First "Shoestring" Chef, a Steak Master, Returns

NEW YORIK - If you like steak, Michael Lomonaco is your man.

He's the executive chef and managing partner of what many consider New York's finest steakhouse, Porter House. That followed stints at "le Cirque", "21 Club" and "Windows on the World."

Back in 1997, Lomonaco happened to be the first to don our "Chef on a Shoestring" hat.

Vote on Next Week's "Shoestring" Main Course
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Each week, we feature a different "Shoestring" chef, who tries to make a three-course meal for four on the measly budget we give him or her - it's "risen" to $40 now.

But in 1997, Lomonaco, already a superstar chef, had only $20.

Today, he sought to prepare a delicious dinner consisting of London broil and Stuffed Acorn Squash, chased with a classic dessert, all on that $40.

We've added some attractions since '97:

Now, every "Chef on a Shoestring" is automatically entered in our "How Low Can You Go? Competition, in which the "Shoestringer" with 2011's lowest ingredients total gets asked back to cook our year-end holiday feast.

And viewers get to vote each week for the following week's main course.

•  Roasted Beet Salad with Blue Cheese
•  Soy Glazed London Broil
•  Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash
•  Apple Brown Betty



Butter lettuce: One of two varieties of head lettuce (the other being crisphead). Butterhead lettuces have small, round, loosely formed heads with soft, buttery-textured leaves ranging from pale green on the outer leaves to pale yellow-green on the inner leaves. The flavor is sweet and succulent. Because the leaves are quite tender, they require gentle washing and handling. Boston and Bibb (also called limestone) lettuce are the two most well known of the butterhead family. The smaller Bibb is highly prized by gourmets. Both Boston and Bibb lettuce are sometimes referred to simply as "butterhead" or "butter" lettuce.

Beets: Commonly known as the garden beet, this firm, round root vegetable has leafy green tops, which are also edible and highly nutritious. The most common color for beets (called "beetroots" in the British Isles) is a garnet red. However, they can range in color from deep red to white, the most intriguing being the Chioggia (also called "candy cane"), with its concentric rings of red and white. Beets are available year-round and should be chosen by their firmness and smooth skins.

London broil: This section of the hind leg of beef extends from the rump to the ankle. Since the leg has been toughened by exercise, the round is less tender than some cuts. The top round, which lies on the inside of the leg, is the most tender of the four muscles in the round. Thick top-round cuts are often called butterball steak or London broil, whereas thin cuts are referred to simply as top round steak.

Acorn squash: A somewhat oval-shaped winter squash with a ribbed, dark green skin and orange flesh. The most common method of preparation is to halve them, remove the seeds and bake. Acorn squash may then be eaten directly from the shell.

Apple Brown Betty: Dating back to colonial America, betties are baked puddings made of layers of sugared and spiced fruit and buttered bread crumbs. Though many fruits can be used, the most popular is Apple Brown Betty, made with sliced apples and brown sugar.


Roasted Beets, Boston Lettuce and Blue Cheese

Yield: 4 portions

2 pounds red, yellow, or candy-striped beets
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 head Boston lettuce, washed and torn into large pieces
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 pound blue cheese, crumbled
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Put the beets in a bowl, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat the beets with the oil.

Transfer the beets to a roasting pan, and roast until tender to a knife-tip, 15 to 20 minutes for very small; 45 minutes for very large. Remove the pan from the oven and let the beets cool for 15 minutes.

When cool enough to handle, slip the beets out of their skins using paper towels to grasp them and a paring knife to help loosen the skin. Discard the skins, quarter or slice them into eighths. Wear disposable plastic gloves to keep from dying your fingers red.

Add cleaned Boston lettuce to a bowl, toss with the crumbled blue cheese and divide among 4 plates

Divide the beets among the salad plates, drizzle with the remaining oil and give each a squeeze of lemon juice; serve.

To see Michael's other recipes, go to Page 2.