Tag Archives: steak

Mom smells.

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Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

I knew the smell long before I knew the recipe. Hitting me as I entered the kitchen, it was intoxicating and made my mouth water. It was the smell of sharp, acidic Worcestershire and red wine, the bite of red onion and clove after clove of garlic. Pungent rosemary and the dry, grassy smell of fresh thyme blended with a sweet hint of fresh orange juice.

The skirt steak would spend an afternoon on the counter soaking in the bright, earthy marinade, telegraphing hours ahead the meal that would follow. The minute I smell this combination of flavors, even before seeing it, I am in my Mother’s kitchen, safe and happy at home.

We all have Mom smells – as opposed to Moms who smell – those scents that bring us home. (I know you exactly what you were thinking, ’cause I’m twelve years old too.) Whether its lilac or peonies from the garden, tomato sauce simmering on the stove or steak marinating on the counter, these sense memories are – if you will excuse a moment of sincere sentimentality – like a hug you can access any time. And they are a testament to our mothers who gave us these gifts.

I love you Mom.

Marinated Skirt Steak

Serves 4. To feed more people, buy a bigger steak, or a second steak. Cook this steak to medium or medium-rare. It’s a bit chewy at rare. (And you weren’t even thinking about well, right?)

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup Merlot or other acidic red wine vinegar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 tbs fresh thyme, separated
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1-1.5 pound skirt steak
  • 2 tbs cup brandy – it’s a steak, use V.S. Courvoisier.
  • 2 tbs chilled butter

Directions:

  • Make the marinade: combine red onion, garlic, Worcestershire, red wine, orange juice, vinegar, bay leaves, 2 tbs thyme and the pepper, in a bowl. Pour over steak in a freezer bag and marinate in the fridge for 4-8 hours.
  • Bring the steak to room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove steak from marinade and pat dry.
  • Grill: prepare a medium-high fire. Sear over direct heat for 3 minutes per side,  and finish the steak off to the side to medium or medium-rare.
  • Stove top: Over med-high heat, warm 1 tbs vegetable oil in a heavy skillet until almost smoking. Sear both sides of steak, about 3 minutes per side. Reduce heat to medium and cook steak to medium or medium-rare.
  • Cover steak with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before carving across the grain.
  • Meanwhile, strain marinade into a skillet, add brandy and bring to a boil. If you cooked the steak on the stove top, reduce the sauce in the same pan, scraping up any brown bits. Reduce liquid to 1/2 cup. Remove from heat and whisk in cold butter.
  • Season to taste and serve over sliced steak.

    Photography by Sam Armocido

    Photography by Sam Armocido

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We be jammin’.

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Confession: I’m not remotely cool enough for this title, but a couple weeks back, I did serve up some pretty good sauces for Washington, DC’s second annual Lamb Jam. The event, put on by the American Lamb Board, an industry promotion group, brings together local chefs to showcase – you got it – lamb. The food was amazing, as were the brewers and vineyards inside who were pouring some pretty generous samples for the 300+ person, sell-out crowd.

I had the pleasure of working with Renee, the owner of Sapore Oil and Vinegar, to create some recipes for what became known as “the condiment table.” Using her wonderful products* I created three sauces that would rock on lamb, or any other meat you plan on grilling this summer. The first, a summery bright orange, is a spicy tropical mango lime sauce. The second, thick and rich, is a blackberry balsamic shallot marmalade. Bright green, grassy and spicy (but not hot) is an arugula, gremolata pesto. These recipes were definitely developed to highlight specialty oils and vinegars, but I’ve got some suggestions below for making them at home if a trip to Washington, DC’s Capitol Hill isn’t in the cards.

They all hold (and freeze) well, so make a batch, pack it in your cooler, and bring it along to the beach or country this weekend. The pesto is great with a steak, the marmalade is a rich pairing for pork, and the mango takes grilled chicken someplace tropical. And they are all fantastic over lamb.

*In full disclosure, I fell in love with Renee’s oils and vinegars at first taste. It has been so much fun working with them in the kitchen and featuring them during my Saturday morning cooking demos at Eastern Market. Consider this a full-blown, un-paid endorsement for exceptional-quality, great value (read:she could easily get $10 more a bottle), and a business owner who knows and loves her product.

Tropical Spice Mango Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and pit removed
  • 
1/4 cup Lime Oil
  • 1/3 cup Tropical Spice Vinegar
  • 3 tbs brown sugar
  • 1” ginger, peeled*

*The easiest way to peel ginger is with the edge of a teaspoon. The peel comes right off without losing any of the flesh.

Directions:

  • Place mango, lime oil, tropical spice vinegar, and sugar in a food processor.
  • Grate ginger finely and add to other ingredients.
  • Pulse in food processor. You can leave it pulpy for some texture or process it until smooth.
  • Season to taste with a pinch of salt and additional sugar and vinegar as desired.

This sauce gets nice heat from the tropical spice vinegar and is balanced by the sweet mango. Great over grilled meats. For the Tropical Spice Vinegar, combine white vinegar with a pinch of red pepper flakes and let sit for an hour. For the Lime Oil, add a mild olive oil or vegetable oil and a tsp of finely grated lime zest.

Blackberry Balsamic Shallot Marmalade

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs grape seed oil*
  • 1 pound shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/3 cup maple sugar*
  • Nutmeg
  • Cardamom

* You can substitute vegetable oil for the grape seed oil, and brown sugar for the maple sugar.

Directions:

  • Sauté shallots in oil over medium-high heat. Stir often to avoid burning. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
  • Add vinegar and sugar, a pinch of nutmeg and a pinch of cardamom, continue cooking another 5-10 minutes until thick and jammy.
  • Season to taste with salt and additional nutmeg and cardamom.

Use this everywhere! Over a salad, on sautéed, grilled or roasted meats, even in an omelet! Any rich, syrupy aged balsamic vinegar can be substituted for the Blackberry Balsamic.

Arugula Gremolata Pesto

Gremolata is a traditional Milanese condiment made from garlic, parsley and lemon zest.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2 cups loose packed arugula
  • 1/2 cup loose packed parsley
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup Meyer Lemon Oil
  • 1 tbs lemon zest.

*This tastes a bit “green” on it’s own, but balances wonderfully with the rich flavor of roasted or grilled lamb and beef.

Directions:

  • Toast walnuts in a sauté pan over medium heat, being careful not to burn. When you can smell the toasted nuts, immediately remove from the pan.
  • Place arugula, parsley and garlic in food processor. Pulse twice for 2 seconds to roughly chop.
  • Turn on processor and drizzle oil through feed tube. Turn off processor while there is still plenty of texture.
  • Add nuts and lemon zest to processor and pulse 3-4 times until nuts are chopped and pesto is blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The Meyer Lemon Oil is wonderful and bright. You can substitute a good-quality, grassy olive oil and an additional tablespoon of lemon zest.