I like beef just like the average Joe, but I wouldn’t say I crave beef or any other red meat for that matter. For me, I get just as much sensory pleasure with a heaping dish of home made fried potatoes with a healthy amount of salt or a perfectly ripe avocado with finely minced cilantro, red onion, and olive oil, then, say, a veal chop or grilled steak.
However, there are moments when a homemade beef dish challenges the above contention. Recently, my beef epiphany came via a grilled skirt steak with copious amounts of kosher salt and course ground black pepper, accompanied by a modified Chimichurri sauce. I served the beef with a fresh tomato salad with basil, fried potatoes, and sautéed Swiss chard with finely diced onion.
Grilled Skirt Steak Recipe:
Grilling skirt steak is a no brainer, but you should be careful as to not overcook the meat. I like to coat both sides of the skirt steak with lots of Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. I use all natural wood lump charcoal
and a chimney starter
to light my wife (no gas grill and under no circumstances no lighter fluid – why on earth would people use this stuff!). My grill consists of a simple, but very functional, Weber One Touch circular grill
(I’ve had it for 5 years and it should easily last another 5). My cooking technique includes:
– Searing the meat on both sides for a total of two minutes (one minute on each side) – do not move the meat once you place it on the grill. Also, make sure you find the hottest part of your grill.
– Move the meat to the second hottest spot on your grill and cook on both sides for a total of 8-10 minutes (about 4-5 minutes on each side depending on how you like your meat). I like my beef medium rare, but many folks from outside the US prefer beef a little more on the well done side (there’s nothing wrong with this, but note if you do order well done beef at a restaurant you’ll probably end up with the worst cut of beef in the place).
– Let the meat rest for 5-10 minutes so the juices in the meat can re-distribute (you should apply this principle to any cooked piece of meat).
It’s especially important that you slice skirt steak across the grain (doing the opposite will result in chewy pieces).
Chimichurri Sauce Recipe:
I use Chimichurri Sauce on roast chicken, grilled chicken breast, grilled pork chops, and my breakfast cereal (just kidding about the cereal). Seriously, however, Chimichurri Sauce is an all purpose meat sauce and goes especially well with skirt steak. Here’s my recipe:
– 1 cup chopped parsley (Italian)
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
– 2 tablespoons dried oregano
– 2 tablespoons red onion, minced
– 3/4 cup olive oil
– 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Simply combine the ingredients well and let the mixture sit for about an hour (the mixture can be stored in the Fridge, but be sure to let the sauce sit at room temp for a bit before using).
Fried Potato Recipe:
My father claims that his mother-in-law (my mother’s mother and my grandmother) makes the best fried potatoes on the planet. And I wholeheartedly agree. Nonna Vincenzina’s fried potatoes start with thinly sliced russet potatoes (which are washed 2x-3x to remove excess starch; you can cut the potatoes about 3/16 of an inch). The slices are thereafter dried and pan fried in a large skillet (using about 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil and don’t be afraid to add more oil if needed). Thinly sliced onions are added a few minutes after the potatoes go into the skillet along with a generous amount of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Nonna has one basic technique for frying potatoes (let the potatoes sit enough to achieve the browning effect that makes potatoes taste so good). So, only turn the potatoes a few minutes before burning (this will take some trial and error). After trying this technique you’ll agree there is no need to deep fry potatoes.
Tomato Salad and Swiss Chard:
My basic tomato salad recipe
can be found here
and I’d like to dedicate an entire blog entry to preparing greens as side dishes in a few weeks, so I’ll refrain from telling you how to make Swiss chard (for now simply enjoy the pic!)