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Local Organic Steak with Kalamata Chimichurri Sauce

In Beef, Main Course, Organic and Sustainable, Recipe, Sauces / Condiments, Tips and Techniques
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I love my grill.  I love the act of cooking just about anything on my outdoor grill, from the freshest swordfish, to thick, fat-marbled, beef rib-eye steaks.  Every man I know is the same, even guys that avoid cooking in their kitchens at all costs.  Put them next to a screaming hot grill and they have an almost instant primal reaction to the thing.....it's like we're all back living in a cave and trying to tame fire for the first time. 

Sadly, as a resident of the Northeast, my opportunities to grill outdoors in the winter are fairly limited.  We've had such a bad spell of weather as of late, that I haven't even bothered to dig a path through the snow to my grill, you know, just in case we have a day that creeps above 40℉ and tempts me to fire up the beast.

That said, we have found ourselves doing more braising, making pastas and soups, and generally taking a break from grilled meats.  It's been all good, and natural, and seasonal, and in keeping with the proper rhythm of life in New England. 

That was, until the other day when Peyton said she was "really...really...REALLY hankerin' for a steak, and questioned if there was there anyway...PLEEEEASE that we could cook one indoors, because she really missed the sizzling, juicy, charred goodness of beef flesh done on the grill!"  Clearly, she has been working on connecting with her inner cave woman.

Happily for her (and for all of us, really) there is a perfectly excellent way to cook steaks indoors, one that imparts many of the flavors that open-flame grilling does when cooking on an outdoor grill.  There are two keys to crafting a "grilled" steak meal indoors to satisfy your inner caveman (or woman as it were), the first is to start with a nice thick steak (at least 1 -1/2" - 2" thick), cut from organically and humanely raised cattle.  Second, you need BIG heat.  For me, that translates into a fully pre-heated cast iron grill pan over a high flame to start cooking your steak, and a pre-heated 425℉ oven in which to finish the cooking.  Oh....and you might want to be sure you have a good kitchen exhaust fan too.

I'm a proponent of adding complexity to the flavor of a good steak.  For a filet, that may come in the form of a nice sauce bernaise, or perhaps a dollop of compound butter on top, for a  sirloin or well marbled rib-eye, it is hard to beat a great chimichurri sauce.  I was first introduced to chimichurri when I used to travel to Houston frequently for work.  There was a great Argentinian restaurant there called Churrascos, that served fabulous steaks with the best chimichurri.   The freshness of the parsley, the acidity of the vinegar, and the bite of the garlic are all perfect foils for the melting fat and earthy chew of the beef.  It is so quick to throw one together, that once you've tried it, you'll be making it a lot, I promise.

So let's begin, shall we?

Recipe:

Kalamata Olive Chimichurri

adapted from: Bon Appetit Magazine - February 2009

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons fruity olive oil, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 bay leaf, broken in half
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 4 tablespoons roughly chopped, pitted Kalamata olives
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Method:

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add  shallots, red pepper, and bay leaf. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add garlic and sauté, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in parsley, olives, and vinegar.  Season chimichurri with salt and pepper, and add a little water by teaspoonfuls to thin as needed. Let sit at room temperature while you cook your steaks, remove the bay leaf before serving.

For the Steaks:

Preheat oven to 425°F. Season steaks on both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Brush heavy, large oven-proof grill skillet (preferably cast-iron) with vegetable oil. Heat over high heat until just smoking. Add steaks. Cook until nicely browned, about 4-5 minutes. Turn steaks and transfer skillet to oven. Roast until instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into steaks registers 125°F to 130°F for medium-rare, about 10 minutes.

Let steaks rest at least 5 minutes. Thinly slice crosswise, and spoon chimichurri over.


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"Oui, Chef" exists as an extension of my efforts to teach my kids a few things about cooking, and how their food choices over time effect not only their own health, but that of our local food communities and our planet at large. By sharing some of our cooking experiences, I hope to inspire other families to start spending more time together in the kitchen, passing on established familial food traditions, and starting some new ones. Read more...
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