Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Grilled Asian Skirt Steak with Arugula Salad and Garlic Potato Rounds

Have you watched the news lately? Apparently, the economy isn’t doing so well. They say that January saw more layoffs in one month since 1974. Wow! I almost got through January but on the 27th, I became one of those statistics too. Now it’s not all bad folks. My career field is actually in demand so I will be back at work before I even want to. For now though, I’m enjoying my time off and I’m wondering how I was able to get anything done with that silly ole’ job in the way. I am also becoming reacquainted with my kitchen. I have missed her. She was neglected, I think. Last year, I circled the globe and dined in Europe, Asia and at least a dozen major US cities but my amazing little kitchen just sat here waiting for me to return to her. Her patient granite sorely underutilized and cluttered with mail. Fortunately, she never wavered and welcomed me back without a hitch. Now she helps me turn out dish after dish lauding my successes and keeping my failures to herself. I wish I could take her to the beach for the weekend.

So with the economy in mind I thought to myself, “What affordable meals are out there that guests would think you pulled out all the stops for?” What I came up with rocked the evening. Thinly sliced potatoes prepared in a unique and tasty way, topped with a simple arugula salad with lemon and olive oil and finally a marinated then charcoal fired skirt steak cut into perfect strips. You could serve this to 6 guests and spend maybe 25 bucks. That seems like a recession proof meal to me.

I arranged the potatoes into circles on the bottom of a pan, seasoned, added a touch of garlic and olive oil and topped with a few small dollops of bacon fat (don’t throw your bacon drippings away people!). If you plan on living longer that I do, you can certainly omit the bacon fat I guess. Into a hot oven for about 12 minutes and what comes out has a crisp outer edge, like a well seasoned chip, and a soft buttery center. For the salad, I drizzled just a touch of lemon and olive oil on the arugula and seasoned with a touch of salt and pepper and that’s it. No fuss. Peppery Arugula with the acidic bite of the lemon gave a nice balance to the very mild and delicate flavor of the potato.

The steak marinated in an Asian bath of soy, sesame oil and honey for a couple of hours then met its fate on a hot grill. Adequately seared and subsequently rested, I cut this into strips and served it atop the arugula and potatoes. The juices of the steak were so perfectly preserved in the searing process that you’d have thought I dipped the strips in butter before plating. Rich and tasty, there was no hint of the toughness that could be found in an undermarinated piece of skirt steak. While I used a grill outdoors, pan searing would also make a nice steak.

Seriously, your friends will think you spent far more on this meal than you did.

Grilled Asian Skirt Steak with Arugula Salad and Garlic Potato Rounds

For the steak

1 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 lbs skirt steak

Place ALL ingredients in a plastic zip bag and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Allow 30 minutes at room temperature before grilling. Sear meat on a hot grill for about 3-4 minutes per side (depending on thickness of the meat) for medium rare. Remove and let rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing. Slice meat on a bias against the grain just before serving.

For the potatoes

2-3 Yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
1-2 tbsp bacon fat at room temperature or lard (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

To thinly slice, I use a mandolin.

On a baking sheet* arrange the potatoes into a circle overlapping the edges.

Make 6-8 of these (one per person). Season with the salt and pepper and arrange a few thin slices of garlic onto the potatoes. Drizzle with a bit of the olive oil.

Arrange another circle of potatoes atop 1st layer. Place a few of the dollops of bacon fat or lard atop.

Place in a 375 degree oven for 12-13 minutes or until edges become golden brown.

*In my photos I use an oven proof skillet but you’ll be making enough to serve 6-8 so I suggest a baking sheet and make all at once.

For the Salad

2-3 cups arugula
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Gently toss all ingredients together.

To serve, place one of the potato rounds on the bottom of each plate, top with about 1/3 cup of the arugula salad then arrange the sliced meat on the salad.

Serves 6-8

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