Tag Archives: steak

An evening with the guys, steaks, and good times.

Monday’s a big day for me.  I’ll be going in for some surgery.  Nothing major, I swear.  But, it will involve a couple of days in residence in the hospital.  So, with my wife out of town with the girls for the weekend, it seemed like a perfect night to have the guys over.  The kids went to one of the other houses, where we shared a babysitter, and the night began..

Earlier that day, I hit the Rastelli’s Market just down the road.  I was pleased to find some gorgeous USDA Prime NY Strips at a pretty reasonable price.  If you’re a South Jersey person, Rastelli’s really has a great selection of all sorts of stuff.  The prepared foods are quite good as well.  Behind the butcher counter, I met years of experience, and a willingness to get everything just right to afford us the perfect evening.  Not long after, I left with 7 of those Prime NY Strips, cut 1.5″ thick.  We paired the steaks up with some roasted baby red potatoes and sautéed haricots verts.  My friend John brought some fantastic bread too.  On to the recipes & methods.

Roasted Baby Red Potatoes

These are quite possibly the easiest potatoes in the world to make.  Impossible to screw this up.  This serves 8 people.

  • 3 pounds of baby red potatoes
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (be sure to get the stuff made from real virgins)
  • 6 cloves of finely minced garlic
  • Kosher salt & ground black pepper – just eyeball it, put in as much as you feel comfortable with
  • Leaves from one sprig of rosemary

Cut the spuds in half, or quarters if you’ve got some big babies in there.. Put everything in a large bowl and toss.  Or do as I did – put the lid on and shake it like crazy.  Dump this out onto a sheet pan (or again, as I did – a foil-lined sheet pan) and chuck it in a 400F oven for an hour.  The potatoes were done early, so I just hit the warming button and left them in the oven.  You could use pretty much any small, thin-skinned potato as well, but I like the flavor of the red potato here.  Like I said, this is impossible to screw up.

Sautéed Haricots Verts

Again, ridiculously easy.  This will also serve 6-8 people.

  • 1 pound Haricots Verts, stem side trimmed, washed, etc.
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Red pepper flakes

Boil some water.  Salt the water generously.  Prepare a big bowl with salted ice water nearby.  Par-cook the beans for about 90 seconds, then rescue them from the boiling water (I used a frying spider like this to do the job), depositing them in the ice bath to stop the cooking process.  When the beans are cooled, extract them from the cold water.  I did this step a few hours ahead, so I put them in a sealed bowl in the fridge.  If you’re doing it right then, just put them aside.

Get your sauté pan ready.  Coat the bottom in the EVOO.  Add the garlic, some salt and a pinch of the red pepper flakes.  Very slowly and gently, heat up that oil to infuse the flavors of the garlic and red pepper.  Turn up the heat to medium, add the beans and finish them off.  How long?  Do you like your beans crunchy or like baby food?  It’s all up to you.

Grilled NY Strips – Reverse Sear Method

This was the part that drew shock & awe from the guys.  Conventional wisdom says you sear a steak and finish it over indirect heat, like in the oven.  This flips that model upside-down.  Why?  Science.  That’s why.  Think about what happens when you do a roast in the oven.  You cook that roast to medium-rare or medium, and when you cut into it, it’s pretty much top-to-bottom pink, right?  Think about the last time you had a steak cooked by conventional means.  You had a crust on the outside, and a ring of well-done just underneath, followed by your center that’s medium-rare or medium.  What if you could get rid of most or all of the ring of well-done meat?  That’s what the reverse sear is all about.  Want to read more?  Go check out /r/steak on Reddit.  Lots of reverse searers and sous-viders there.

So, on to how to do this.  I put the steaks on a rack, holding them above a sheet pan.  I salted each side very generously with Kosher salt.  I left them out on the counter like this for an hour.  An hour?  In the creepy-crawly bacterial danger zone?  Relax, skippy.  You’re going to blast these things with fire in a little while.  Bacteria growth, if any, will be on the surface, and will be quite handily eradicated after you introduce them to some fire.

I did our steaks on the grill.  We’ve got a Weber Genesis E-330, LP model.  I switched on the far right burner, and deposited our steaks on the far left of the grill and closed the lid.  How high should the burner be?  Depends on how cold it is outside.  Last night, it was about 45F, so I did medium-high.  You want the ambient temp inside the grill around 200-250F.  Relax, this will be a while.  If you’ve got a probe thermometer, probe the meat and set the alarm for 115F (assuming you want medium-rare).  Basically, you’re going to pull about 10-15F below where you want to finish.  For me, this took about 45 minutes to reach this temp.  I pulled the steaks, and covered them in foil, and took them inside to rest for 10 minutes.

During that rest, I cranked up all of the burners to high and kept the lid down.  By the time the rest was over, the grill was about 650F.  During the summer, I can get it to well over 700F.  Steaks go back on and get flipped every 30 seconds until you’re happy.  To impress, add a turn, giving you nice cross-hatch grill marks.  The steaks got about 4 minutes total sear time, roughly 2 minutes per side, leaving them at 125-130F, perfect medium-rare.  Off the grill, onto the plates.

Because you’ve already rested the meat, they won’t bleed out the moment you cut them, so you can dig right in.  Be warned on a couple of points here…

  1. You need thicker steaks to pull this off.  If you go with the standard ¾ inch type steaks you generally see in the market, the method doesn’t work.  Why?  During the sear, you’ll overcook the middle.  Minimum of 1 inch.  1 ½ or more is better for this method.
  2. Be prepared for horrified looks from your guests.  When you pull the steaks to rest them, they will look like sad little lumps of meat.  That’s ok.  Just tell your diners to relax and believe.  Last night, I had 6 skeptics that thought I’d ruined good steak, only to completely reverse that opinion mere minutes later. 🙂

My sole regret was forgetting to get a picture of the completed steaks.  What can I say?  We were hungry.  We paired the above with a bottle of Phantom, from Bogle Vineyards.  Rastelli’s was doing tastings the other day, and it caught me by surprise, so I bought 2 bottles.  At $18 each, they were better than lots of $50 bottles I’ve had.

Chile-Lime Skirt Steak Tacos

We were going to make Friday night Taco Night, but then realized that Alex had his gymnastics class, so it had to wait for Saturday’s lunch.  Glad we waited, the extra time in the marinade was good…  Sorry, no pictures this time.  It’s still good.  Go make this.

So, tacos.  Brown up some ground beef, toss in that seasoning packet you bought in the supermarket with some water, wait, and then stuff a sort-of-not-too-nasty hard shell with meat, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, & the kitchen sink, take a bite and need to change your shirt.  Right?  You couldn’t be more wrong.  That’s a terribly over-Americanized version of the taco, humble street food of Latin America.  We will not be doing that today.

Buy 1 ½ lbs of skirt steak.  You can use flank too if you’ve got that on hand, or can’t find skirt.  I’ve got a butcher down the road from us, and they rule.  Hi Jeff & Terry.  While I was there, I ordered up a brisket to be BBQ’d and ready for us to consume during an upcoming gathering of friends & family.  Yum in advance.

Prepare your steak.  Sometimes, skirt will still have a membrane on it.  Get rid of as much of it as you can.  While you’re at it, trim the skirt a bit too.  Leave some fat on there – fat will melt and is flavor.  But, you probably aren’t interested in having a giant hunk of fat hanging around either..  Now might also be a good time to cut it into manageable lengths to fit your grill, since you’re getting all knifey with the steak already.

Make yourself a marinade.  The only thing you may have trouble with is the chile powders.  In your average American supermarket, you can get “chili powder”, and it’s a hodgepodge of stuff that’s not just ground up chiles.  Get thee to thine nearest Mexican grocery for some ancho and chipotle chile powders.  Here comes the marinade.  Throw all this stuff in the nearest bowl and mix it up with a whisk until it’s all combined.

  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Done whisking?  Put the skirt steak in a sealable plastic bag.  Dump the marinade in on top of the steak.  Remove as much air as you can from the bag and seal it up.  Smoosh it all around in there a bit to coat the steak with all that chile-infused goodness.  Don’t freak out – this isn’t spicy.  Yes, you’ve got a fair bit of chile powder in there, but when you’re done cooking, it’s going to be nicely spiced, and not hot & overpowering.  Trust me here.  Even if you’re not into spicy, put all of that stuff in there.  How long do you marinade for?  That’s up to you.  Some people like to go an hour, but I ended up going for about 18.  I put this all together at about 6pm Friday, and cooked it up a bit before Noon on Saturday.  Some marinades overpower when you go that long, but this one did not.  If you’re doing a short marinade, do it outside the fridge.  I did mine in the fridge.  Either way, for about an hour before you’re cooking, get that thing out of the cold.  Don’t worry, you won’t die.  You’re about to put this steak above 500+F heat.  That will slay anything that manages to grow in an hour.

Go and make a fire in your usual way.  You want to setup your grill for direct grilling with high heat.  Skirt likes to cook fast, so you want to hit it with a thermonuclear blast of heat for a short time.

Got your grill all prepped, cleaned, oiled and up to about 500-600F?  You’re ready.  Pull the steak out of the marinade and unroll it onto a baking sheet or something big & flat.  After you get the steak on, hand this to someone to wash and bring back to you, or have a second one ready for the cooked meat.  For my grill, I got it up to 600F and then did 2.5 minutes on each side before pulling it.  At 500F, it’s probably more like 3.  If you’re Alton Brown or just love his methods, well, just do what he does.  Not having charcoal (I know, sacrilege, right? It’s ok, I’ve got a smoker try built into our Weber gas grill), I just keep it all up top on the grates.

Done cooking?  Now it’s rest time for that meat, so that carry-over will finish the job, leaving you with nicely cooked beef.  How do you cut skirt so it’s tender and not all stringy/chewy?  Against the grain, so the fibers are nice & short.  Basically, cut the steak into smaller pieces, then cut it sideways.  Go watch the AB video above if you think I’m speaking Latin right now.  He shows it very nicely.  I did 3-inch sections that I sliced into 4 pieces each.  That’s a good size for tacos.

While that meat is resting, warm up your tortillas.  Soft tacos for this guy, please.  Corn or flour, whatever you like.  Some people warm up tortillas by wrapping them in plastic and nuking them for a bit.  I don’t like this method, as it leaves you with gummy, funky tortillas.  You’ve already got a nice hot grill, and you’re kind of standing around while the steak rests, so throw the tortillas on the grill a few at a time.  Watch until they just start to puff up, flip, and then stack on a plate.  You can do easily a dozen tortillas in the time your steak rests.

And now, assemble as you wish.  For me, it was a tortilla, 2-3 pieces of steak, some cheese and a bit of hot salsa or a couple of squirts of Tabasco’s Chipotle Sauce.  Want to chop up some cilantro or dice up a few tomatoes and add them? Go for it.  Perhaps a little pico de gallo instead?  Have at it, but don’t overload the taco there, bub.

We served this with some rice and corn as the side dishes.  It was fantastic.