Grilled Flank Steak

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After making our wills yesterday, we found ourselves somewhat dispirited. Dealing with one’s own mortality, after all, isn’t easy. So we decided it was time for some Margarita Madness, a spread of chips, salsa, guacamole, and frozen Margaritas, to restore our spirits and start the evening.

To follow this festive beginning, we opted for a simple flank steak grilled and served with a compound garlic-and-parsley butter. A visit to one of our butchers yielded one of the finest looking flank steaks I’ve ever seen.

One beautiful flank steak
One beautiful flank steak

Because they are somewhat uneven in thickness, grilling flank steaks can be a little tricky. I get over come this hurdle by keeping the thickest part of the steak closest to the direct heat of my grill pan.

While the pan is heating, I dry the steak with paper towels and liberally season one side with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and drizzle it lightly with extra-virgin olive oil. When the grill pan is hot, I place the steak on the pan, seasoned side down, with the thickest part of the steak closest to the hottest part of the pan, which is directly over the flame.

After one minute, I reduce the flame to medium and cook the steak for about 4 minutes. During this time, I season the exposed side with salt and pepper. When I see the juices starting to appear on top of the steak, I flip the steak and continue to cook for about another 4 minutes. I test for doneness by feeling the steak with my index finger. When it bounce back to the touch, it’s the perfect medium rare, for me the perfect temperature for flank steak.

I place the steak on the cutting board and place a thick round of my parsley-and-garlic compound butter in the middle of the steak and let the meat rest, tented, for about three minutes.

To serve, I slice the steak thick on an angle and serve with steamed spinach dressed with extra virgin olive oil.

For more on grilling steaks, and cooking almost any type of food and knowing when it’s done, I highly recommend James Peterson’s recently published Done.: A Cook’s Guide to Knowing When Food Is Perfectly Cooked.

Wine Pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese.

Grilled Steaks, Corn on the Cob, and Tomato Salad

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Gone are the days when I could eat steaks like this 3 or 4 times a week. Now, more health conscious, it’s more like a once-a-month indulgence. Rather than our small electric grill, I prefer to use a two-burner grill pan to prepare steaks like this one.

I leave the steaks out of the fridge for about an hour to let them come to room temperature. I dry them with paper towels, and season one side liberally with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and drizzle lightly with olive oil. I place the steaks seasoned-side down on a preheated hot grill pan pressing down to ensure full contact with the grill. I then season the second side as I did the first.

I cook on high for one minute and then on medium for about 5 minutes more for steaks that are an 1.25 inches thick. I then flip and cook on high for one minute and on medium, again for about 5 minutes.

After each one minute sear on high, I move the steaks to the center of the grill so that they’re not directly over the flame.

After cooking, I allow the steaks to rest for several minutes before serving.

For our salad, I prepared a fresh tomato salad that I used to enjoy as a child. For the tomatoes, I used some beautiful mini San Marzano tomatoes grown in Texas by Village Farms that I just discovered at our local Whole Foods. They’re perfectly textured and delightfully sweet.

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I slice the tomatoes in half and season with Kosher salt. I then add one large garlic clove thinly sliced, a pinch of dried oregano, and about 6 basil leaves torn. I drizzle the salad with extra virgin olive oil and add a small ice cube. I then cover the salad with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. The ice cube is a carry over from my aunt, who used it to extend the dressing.

Wine Pairing: Valpolicella Ripasso

Grilled Steak

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I’m a steak lover: sirloin, flank, t-bone, skirt, NY-strip, almost any cut will make me happy. In my wanton middle age, I used to indulge in steak several times a week. Now, in my sixties, it’s maybe once a week. Alas, I’ve grown heath conscious.

I cook my steaks simply. Rarely do I use marinades or rubs, and when I do, it’s only for a flank or skirt steak. I also prefer to use locally raised beef and, when possible, go for grass fed. Granted, in NYC “locally” may be farther away than in other locations.

Limited to a small outdoor electric grill on the terrace, I prefer to use a two-burner grill pan. I take the steaks out of the fridge about an hour before cooking and let them come to room temperature.

While heating the grill pan, I dry the steaks with paper towels and season them liberally on one side with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, followed by a drizzle of olive oil.

When it’s hot, I lightly oil the grill and place the steaks, seasoned side down, near the center of the pan so that they are not directly over the burners. I press down firmly on the steaks to ensure that they are in full contact with the grill and get some grill marks. Note that this is the only time I press on the meat. At this point, I season the other side as I did the first with coarse salt and black pepper.

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I cook the steaks for about 1 minute on high to sear them and then reduce the flame to medium. I do not move the steaks at all during cooking. Let the grill do its work.

After 6 or 7 minutes for a 1.25” strip, aiming for medium rare, I turn the steaks and return the heat to high for one minute. I then reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook for about another 6 or 7 minutes, using the last minute to brown the fat on the side of the steaks. Of course, grilling times will vary depending on the thickness of the steaks and the desired level of doneness.

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I remove the steaks from the grill, place them on heated plates, tent with foil and let them rest for about 3 minutes.

That’s it. I eschew making or using any sauce for steak since I find that it masks the true flavor of good local raised beef. I do, however, drizzle the steaks with a high quality extra virgin olive oil, for a touch of unctuousness.

For sides as well, I keep them as simple as possible. Baked potato with olive oil and lemon; maybe some steamed spinach. A lightly dressed arugula salad finishes the meal.

Wine Pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Valpolicella Ripasso

 

 

Grilled Flank Steak

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When we watched Mario Batali transform a simple flank steak to mouthwatering juiciness on his TV show “The Chew,” I had to make it.

The steak is seasoned first with salt and pepper and then rubbed with a paste of dried-porcini powder, garlic, red-pepper flakes, and olive oil. It’s then placed in a re-sealable plastic bag and refrigerated for at least an hour or even better over night.

I let the steak marinate for about 12 hours, taking it our of the refrigerator an hour or so before cooking to let it come to room temperature.

Because it was too cold for grilling outdoors, I opted for a two-burner pre-heated grill pan. Batali, who used a gas grill on the show, recommended cooking the steak with the grill lid closed for this particular cut of meat. To replicate this, I tented the steak with heavy-duty foil as it cooked for about 6 minutes per side on medium high.

To retain the meat’s juices, I let the steak rest for the recommended fifteen minutes before slicing it.

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This had to be one of the juiciest and most flavorful flank steaks, I’ve ever had. The earthiness from the porcini powder was complemented by the spice from the red-chili flakes.

Batali used the steak as part of a sandwich that was sauced with a Parmesan fondue. As luscious as it looked, we decided to forego the sauce and the bread and chose to serve the steak accompanied with spinach sautéed with olive oil and garlic. Here’s a link to the recipe. Grilled Steak and Fondue Sandwich.

Some recipe tips:

  • I didn’t have any porcini powder, so I took a handful of dried porcini and ground them to a powder with a spice grinder. (Finally got to use that Magic Bullet that’s been in the back of the closet.)
  • You may also want to adjust the recipe’s amount of red-pepper flakes depending on the type you have on hand.
  • Finally, rather than smashing the garlic cloves to a paste, I grated ten with a rasp.

Wine Pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon, Valpolicella Ripasso, Cotes du Rhone

Steak Salad for Lunch

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I made a quick lunch today from leftover ribeye steak and chickpeas. I dressed the arugula with a touch of good balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and salt. Topped it with lightly salted, thinly sliced leftover steak and a few chickpeas that were also tossed separately with some of the oil and vinegar. Served with a couple of slices of ciabatta.

Steak Night Ribeyes

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After a week of being “good,” I thought we deserved some big beef. Passing by my butcher, I found some irresistible local-grown bone in ribeye steaks.  Living in New York City, many of us don’t have the luxury of an outdoor grill and need to turn to alternative methods of grilling a steak. Many opt for broiling or oven roasting, but I depend on a good grill pan.

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I pat the steaks dry and then season both sides liberally with kosher salt and pepper and rub the fist side to be cooked with a small amount of olive oil.

I then place the steaks on the preheated grill, pressing them down rather firmly to ensure full contact and help obtain the ever elusive grill marks. I sear the steaks on high for 1 minute and the turn the flame down to medium. I cook a 1 to 1.5 inch steak for about 7 minutes a side, cooking each side on high for the first minute.

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When the steaks are done, I place them on heated plates and the let them rest tented for about 5 minutes.

On serving, I drizzle each steak a bit of first quality Tuscan extra virgin olive oil.

Wine Pairing: Pinot Noir, Brunello