Saturday, July 18, 2015

Grilled Skirt Steak with Romesco and Zucchini Salad

I feel the need to pause and reflect on what a monumental achievement happened this last week. It was the "last first" as it pertains to our solar system.We had our first close-up look at the last planet in our solar system.

On July 20, 1969, Randy Nordquist and I had taken his mom's fire-engine red Buick Electric 225 convertible to the A & W Root Beer Drive-In just off of 66th and Penn in Richfield. Led Zeppelin was blaring from the 8-track tape player and we were two, soon-to-be high school seniors oblivious to the rest of the world. All we wanted was a burger, fries and a cold root beer.

We got out of the car and walked up to the window to order. The employee was watching TV on a diminutive black and white Sony TV. Look at this she said: "We're walking on the moon". That moment will always be burned into my mind. A man from earth walking on the moon.

And so, too, will the first image of Pluto be burned into my mind. We launched the New Horizon in 2006 and it traveled 3 billion miles to initiate it's flyby of Pluto....a planet that was only discovered in  1930. We had no idea what secrets it held, as even the all-powerful Hubble Telescope could only offer blurry, long distance photos.

Fast forward 85 years and what a myriad of surprises there were. Incredible mountains of solid ice. A surface completely void of craters. Is the surface erosion caused by wind? Is some of the geological activity caused by geysers? Is the surface of Pluto bleeding off into space? What an incredible week....and one which just may answer the biggest question of all: How was our solar system formed?

So now I turn my attention from Pluto to more earthly matters. Grilled steak is by far and away my very favorite meal. But you can't just have grilled steak for every meal. So I am constantly on the hunt for new grilled steak recipes that let me change up my favorite meal.

Today's recipe is from Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske. They are two chefs that run the Contra and Wildair restaurants in New York City. To the grilled steak, they add Romesco sauce and a salad made of zucchini ribbons. Their spectacular recipe serves four.

1½ pounds skirt steak
Kosher salt
½ of a Roma tomato
¾ cup plus 1½ tablespoons olive oil
2 (½-inch-thick) slices country bread
⅓ cup roasted red peppers
2 cloves garlic
½ cup toasted walnuts
½ teaspoon Sherry vinegar
1 small zucchini
2 tablespoons torn mint
Juice of 1 lemon


  1. Prepare your grill for direct cooking over high heat. Season steak on both sides with salt, cover and let rest at room temperature until ready to grill, 15-20 minutes.
  2. Set a medium skillet over high heat. Once hot, add tomato, skin-side down, and cook until skin chars, 6-8 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Wipe pan clean. Pour in ½ cup oil, or enough to fill to ½ inch. Once oil is hot but not smoking, gently fry bread on both sides until golden and crisp all the way through, about 4 minutes total. Remove pan from heat and place bread on paper towels.
  4. Make romesco: In a food processor, purée peppers, charred tomato and garlic to a paste. Add bread and walnuts, and process until combined but still chunky. Transfer romesco to a bowl and stir in vinegar and ¼ cup olive oil. Season with salt. 
  5. Make zucchini salad: Use a vegetable peeler or mandoline to shave zucchini into thin ribbons. In a medium bowl, toss shaved zucchini with mint, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and 1½ tablespoons olive oil.
  6. Meanwhile, place steaks on grill over high heat and sear until charred, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer meat to medium heat and grill, flipping every minute, to desired doneness, 1-2 minutes more for medium-rare. Let steaks rest 5 minutes before serving.
  7. To serve, slice steak across the grain. Divide among 4 plates along with zucchini salad. Spoon romesco over steak and serve.

Wine pairing: Rioja

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