"A steak always tastes best when it's cooked over charcoal." Us charcoal grillers would like to believe this, but it simply is not true. Food cooked over charcoal actually does taste better, but not because there is a transfer of charcoal flavor to the meat.
The flavor transferred to the meat during grilling is all about heat. The higher the heat, the better the flavor. Gas grills are actually the poorest performers when it comes to heat as their peak temperatures are in the 500º to 700º Fahrenheit range. Gas grillers would be better off using a cast iron skillet on the stove top, where it's easy to get a 1000º temperature.
Next up the chain are charcoal briquettes. They put out temperatures of 800º to 1000º. But if you are going to grill outside, lump hardwood charcoal burns at 1400º. That ridiculously high temperature is responsible for the "great flavor" that everyone assumes is from the charcoal.
But that flavor actually comes from the 1400º temperature. As the fat and juices drip on the coals when grilling, that temp is so high that it literally vaporizes the drippings. When the fats and juices hit 1400º coals, they turn into smoke and the smoke is what infuses the meat with that incredible flavor.
This is a spectacular recipe from Edina cookbook author Meredith Deeds. The brightness of the lemon juice creates a perfect contrast to the salt in the anchovies. While her recipe called for creating the salsa verde in a food processor, I recommend whisking in the oil by hand. A food processor blade turns the oil into fine droplets, causing bitter-tasting polyphenols to be emphasized in the sauce. Hand whisking preserves the fruity flavor of the olive oil.
1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons capers, drained
2 anchovy fillets
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
Kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon for the sauce)
Fresh ground black pepper (1/4 teaspoon for the sauce)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 flank steak (about 1-1/2 pounds)
- Prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat.
- Add the first eight ingredients into a food processor. Pulse quickly eight times so that ingredients are well chopped, but not pureed. Remove food processor blade and take food processor bowl off the device. Gently whisk in olive oil and set sauce aside.
- Season steak generously with salt and pepper. Cook for 4 minutes per side ( for medium rare using lump hardwood charcoal). Remove steak from grill and tent with foil and let it rest for 5 minutes.
- Slice steak thinly against the grain and serve with the sauce.
Wine pairing: Malbec