Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Grilled Steak and Spice-Steamed Potatoes

by Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Dear Friends,

Sometimes the eating-close-to-the-ground concept needs a night off. You want a piece of meat, a potato and maybe a salad — the stuff of old-time grillers' dreams. With a grill and a pair of tongs, you can have it all.

Do try the flat iron steak here. It's a cut from the chuck or shoulder of the steer. For me, flavor always trumps tenderness. Chewy it might be, but the flat iron's flavor is just super. Thinly slice it before serving and you'll have very good, tender meat at maybe a third of what that rib eye could cost you.


Serves 2 generously and multiplies easily

The Rub:
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons dried basil
3 tablespoons vodka, gin, rum, or whiskey
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, minced
The Potatoes:
2 to 3 medium red-skin, Yellow Finn or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and halved, then cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 tablespoons butter
The Steak:
2 rib-eye, top sirloin, or flat iron steaks cut 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick
1. Preheat the gas grill to high on one side and low on the other. Or burn a pile of wood charcoal until it has gray ash covering it. Pile the charcoal at one end of the grill, with a few of the coals at the other end. Blend the spice rub ingredients together in a food processor. Rub one third of it into the potato slices, then spread them out in a single layer on a large piece of foil. Dot with butter, seal the foil, and set the packet on the grill over low heat. Cook 30 minutes, moving the potato packet around the grill so the heat is not too intense. Add coals as needed.

2. As the potatoes cook, rub the rest of the spices over the steak. Heap more coals on the grill so one side becomes very hot.

3. Place the steaks on the hottest part of the grill and sear both sides. With tongs, shift the steaks to a cooler part of the grill and continue cooking, turning often (to encourage faster cooking), until they are within 5 degrees of the desired degree of doneness on an instant-reading thermometer stuck into the center of the meat.

4. Remove steaks to a serving platter, and let rest for 8 to 10 minutes. When you let meat rest, juices settle, the steak finishes cooking and generally it tastes far, far better than cutting into it straight off the grill.

5. Open an edge of the potato packet and poke them with a knife. If they're tender, turn them out onto the platter next to the steak. If not, reseal and cook longer.


In this season of toss it-on-the-grill, get a char and finish cooking fast, there's a basic rule of thumb that's good to remember. The slower you cook proteins the more juiciness, tenderness and flavor you get. So sear over high heat, but cook low and slow, whether it's a steak, a piece of fish, or an egg.

By the way, along with the potatoes, a great accompaniment to the steak is grilled charred scallions. Trim off roots, moisten a handful of scallions with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar and grill over high for a few minutes, until they're browned on one side. Remove to a plate and serve at room temperature.

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