You either know what I’m talking about because you’ve lived in a place like this, or you don’t and you think I’m crazy - either way, its time to talk about food. You’d think a place as hot as this would shun heavy food in the summer. That fruit and salads would reign supreme. But people love their meat down here – year round. They love it pulled, bbq’d, smoked, slow roasted, deep fried and jerkied. They love it pretty much anyway you could imagine and it all tastes pretty much amazing.
So in honor of Texas and meat and the hot summers here, I decided to have a little dinner party the other day. I was really going for it – everything cooked on the grill…outside. I was hankering for some Flank steak and grilled vegetables. I know by now that it doesn’t really cool down at night here and that the mosquitos come out to play at dusk, but I wanted to grill. So I bombed my back yard with [organic] mosquito repellent, covered myself in bug spray and went for it. It was great. I was hot of course, but amazingly my dear friends joined me outside as I grilled and we all stayed cool with homemade grapefruit cocktails and icy beer. So I may have dropped a few slices of squash into the grill or charred a few potatoes but the meat was perfect.
[Prep: 20 minutes / Grilling: 10-12 / TOTAL: about 30 minutes active, try to season meat up to 1 hour before]
[Serves 6 dinner sized portions]
- 2 ½ pounds flank steak
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- ½ tablespoon salt
- ½ tablespoon dried oregano
- ½ tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 bunch or about 1 cup packed parsley, leaves picked off stem, washed and finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons capers, drained and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper or about 3 grinds in the mill
- ½ teaspoon Italian red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 table spoon fresh lemon juice or juice from ½ lemon
- ½ cup olive oil
Grilled Summer Vegetables
[Prep: 10 minutes / Grilling: about 15/ TOTAL: about 25 minutes]
[You can pick any sort of summer vegetables that you like to go with the meat. In Texas the yellow summer squash is super sweet and fresh and russet potatoes work great on a grill – so these were two easy choices for me and just a suggestion for you.]
- 2-3 yellow summer squash, washed and sliced about ½ inch thick
- 2 russet potatoes, rinsed and sliced lengthwise about 1/3 inch thick
- extra virgin olive oil
- cracked black pepper
- Mexican chili powder
Ideally about an hour before you’re ready to start grilling you should prep the meat with the dry rub [its ok if you only really have a half hour]. Start by mixing the garlic powder, cayenne, salt, dried oregano, ground cumin and sugar together – I like to measure the ingredients out before and put them into a small bowl since I will be handling raw meat and wont want to be touching a lot of things in the kitchen. To get the meat ready lay it out on a large platter and pat it dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle half of the seasoning over the steaks and massage it in with your fingers, there should be enough to create a thin layer. Flip them over and repeat with the rest of the seasoning. [Make sure to wash your hands!] Meat tenderizes – breaks down – more quickly at room temperature can leave it out until you’re ready to grill it. The meat should never be cold when you put it on the grill.
Now you can forget about the meat for a little and start making the chimichurri sauce! The way this sauce comes together is pretty amazing and always delicious. It really is the proverbial icing on the cake. Start by chopping up the washed and de-stemmed parsley. When I’m cutting up a large quantity of parsley like this recipe calls for I like to pack it into a tall water glass, take a pair of kitchen scissors, angle them into the glass and start cutting! Its speeds up the process and keeps the parsley contained. Take the drained capers and chop them finely and mince the peeled garlic. This is really the extent of the prep. Now you can combine the parsley, capers, garlic, salt, cracked black pepper, red pepper flakes, red wine vinegar and lemon juice in a medium sized bowl. I like to squeeze the lemon over my fingers – the juice slips through and I can catch any seeds in my hands – it’s a little messy but its quick and makes less clean up. Mix it all together and drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil while stirring. Feel free to taste it now – it should taste very bright – tart, garlicky and a little briny from the capers. The flavor will get better the longer it sits. You can leave it out until you are ready to serve it. The sauce will keep up to one week in the fridge, but it probably won’t last that long...
Ok so now you’re ready to get grillin, before you turn it on make sure to clean it off a little with the grill brush. I have a small gas grill that takes about 5 minutes to heat up, so put it on high and cover it. I do the potatoes first because they can sit in the oven on 175 and stay warm once you take them off. Right before you put the potatoes on turn down the grill to medium – you don’t want the flames to be too high and burn them. Put the cover down and check them in about 3 minutes. Depending on the way the heat is dispersed around the grill some may be ready to flip before others so keep an eye on them. They should need about another 3 minutes after they’ve been flipped. Have an ovenproof plate ready to too them onto as they are ready. The meat comes next.
The meat should only take about 5 minutes each side – the thickest part will be medium-rare. Throw on the steaks and cover. Flip it and leave for another 5 minutes. You really don’t want to poke or prod the meat, you can peak at the underside before you flip it and make sure there’s a nice brown crust. After about 5-6 minutes per side take it off and cut into the thickest part a little to see how it’s cooked. If you like it medium-rare there should still be red in the middle. Remember once the meat is taken off it will keep cooking for a little. Also it’s easy to reheat the grill and cook it a little more – but you can’t fix overcooked meat!
Pull those potatoes out of the oven, toss the squash onto the same plate and slice up the meat – against the grain – into ½ inch slices and top off with the chimichurri sauce.