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By: Heidi Roggensack

The PIGs are: Heidi Roggensack, Brian Ortmeier, and Giffie Walbridge Foltz

“PIG” stands for “Partners in Gourmet.” We were all neighbors in Tucson, Arizona, and that is how we met. We have been cooking together since 2005. The idea for a Gourmet Club came from my parents, who belonged to a neighborhood gourmet club in Colorado when I was growing up.

We all have partners, and the “piglets” (each PIG’s partner) are integral to each PIG meeting. One person from each couple likes to cook, the other likes to eat. Perfect.

The original plan was to get together monthly, but that was quickly replaced with whenever we can all get together. We usually try to have a theme for the get together – the planning is as much fun as the actual dinner. We pick the theme, plan the menu, shop together when we can, and of course cook it all together. The piglets pitch in when needed and usually do the dishes. We rarely invite others as it is a private club and we make no apologies for that! At the beginning we made a list of themes. Now that I look back at them, we haven’t done any of them!!! We better get busy.

In recent years, I have been keeping track of the recipes from each PIG event, which I file by event, complete with a cover page of the menu. The PIG journal has made the rounds and is now a beautiful record of our culinary adventures together.

Included is a page from one of our earliest journal entries, and below is
one of the recipes from an early PIG meeting: flank steak marinated in soy and sake. This is still, and probably always will be, one of our go-to recipes.

The PIGs after their annual holiday cookie bake-off, December, 2013

The PIGs after their annual holiday cookie bake-off, December, 2013

Ginger Flank Steak with Sake-Glazed Vegetables
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sake
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 2-pound flank steak

1 pound asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths

3 tablespoons peanut oil
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch-wide strips
1 1/2 pounds crimini mushrooms, halved, each half cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
4 green onions, cut into 1-inch lengths

2 teaspoons cornstarch

Combine first 6 ingredients in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Add meat. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before continuing.

Cook asparagus in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain. Rinse under cold water to cool. Drain again.

Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add red bell pepper strips and sauté 3 minutes. Add crimini mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes. Add green onions and asparagus and sauté until vegetables are tender, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer vegetables to serving platter. Tent with foil to keep warm.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil in same skillet over high heat. Remove steak from marinade; reserve marinade. Add steak to skillet and cook to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to cutting board. Tent with foil and let stand 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place reserved marinade in small saucepan. Whisk in cornstarch. Whisk over high heat until sauce thickens and boils, about 3 minutes. Remove sauce from heat. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Cut steak across grain on diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange steak slices atop vegetables on platter. Spoon some of sauce over meat and vegetables. Serve, passing remaining sauce separately.