Category Archives: Beef Dishes

Con Carne

Grilled Chipotle Flank Steak

Grilled Flank Steak

Here’s the follow-up from the Grilled Stuffed Poblano Pepper post, in which, as you no doubt remember, I was going to make fajitas, but the success of the stuffed poblanos happily changed our dinner plans to this marinated flank steak and the stuffed poblanos. But I will one day get around to making fajitas!

Flank steak is a flavorful cut of steak that’s a little tougher than some cuts, but cooked just right (medium-rare to medium) and cut in thin strips across the grain, is really good. Flank steak is often used in Mexican meals like fajitas, burritos, or just with a side of something like the aforementioned Grilled Stuffed Poblano Peppers.

Ingredients:

  • Flank Steak, 1 lb. or so.
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Dos Equis, or any beer, or plain water
  • Juice from 2 Large Limes
  • 1/2- 1 Tsp. Chipotle Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp. Oregano
  • 1/2 Tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 4-5 Cloves Diced Garlic

 

Special Utensils:

  • Just a Grill

Serves 4

Mix all the marinade ingredients and combine in a one-gallon ziplock bag with the flank steak. Let marinade for 4 hours to overnight.

As always, heat up enough charcoal to cover 1/2 of your grill and soak some pieces of your favorite smoking wood, as mentioned in previous posts like Perfectly Grilled Filet Mignon. Also, since the steak is marinated, put some foil on the cooler non-coal side to catch the marinade drippings.

When the coals are ready, spread them out on 1/2 the grill and throw on the drained wood chips. Start the steak on the cooler non-coal side. Since flank steak is thin, it won’t take long to get to medium rare/medium– 4-5 minutes on a side on the indirect heat side, and 2 minutes or so on the hot coal side to finish the steak off with a little sear. I don’t bother with a meat thermometer when the steak is this thin, I just go by touch. A good guide to go by is feeling the pad on the palm of your hand under your thumb– if you touch your thumb to your index finger, that’s what rare feels like. Thumb to middle finger is medium-rare. Ring finger- medium/medium well, and thumb to pinky is well-done.

If you decided to make fajitas, grill some vegetables along with the steak– cut a red and green pepper and an onion in half, coat with a little olive oil, sprinkle on a little salt & pepper and throw them on the grill too. Once the peppers and onions are done, cut them into thin strips that can fit in tortillas easily, along with some avocados and maybe diced fresh tomatoes. serve with your favorite salsa and shredded cheese, and maybe even some sour cream if you want to get crazy. As for tortillas– flour is most common but I like corn tortillas. Either will make good wraps for your fajitas. Enjoy!

Perfectly Grilled Filet Mignon

Medium Rare Filet Mignon

Seared outside, perfectly pink inside

Yeah, that’s right, you read the title correctly. This is serious stuff, so there’s no room for false modesty here. I’m going to show you how to grill filet mignon cuts of steak perfectly, every time.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Filet Mignon cut steaks
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh coarse-ground pepper
  • Soaked Hickory Chips (optional)

Special Utensils:

  • Barbeque Grill
  • Meat thermometer

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20-25 minutes

Serves 4

Get the charcoal started if you’re using a charcoal grill. While the coals are getting ready, take the steaks out of the refrigerator and sprinkle with kosher salt and ground pepper. Filet mignon cuts of steak are so good I like to keep it real simple with the seasoning. The steaks should sit out at room temp for up to a half hour before they go on the grill (but meat shouldn’t be left at room temp for any more time than that).

Charcoal Grill

Coals on one side only!

If you want nice branded grill marks, make sure the grill has been well-heated over the coals. When the coals are ready spread them out in a one-coal deep layer one one side of the grill only- this is important. Using a gas grill? I highly recommend charcoal, but if you MUST use a gas grill you’ll just fire up and preheat the burners on one side then.

Filet Migons on the grill

Searing up nicely

Now put the steaks on directly over the coals (or the hot side if you’re using a gas grill). Cover but leave all the grill vents open. We want a lot of heat. Turn the steaks over after a few minutes. Turn twice each side on diagonals if you want that “steakhouse commercial” grill mark look.  We want to get a good sear on the outside of the steaks.  We don’t want to burn the outside, just give it a good dark-brown sear. Why is a good sear so important? It’s not to seal in the juices, as some people think. It creates flavor . . .

Science Alert: Searing the steaks causes a process called the “Maillard Reaction”, a chemical reaction between sugars and amino acids in the meat when exposed to high heat. This creates dozens, maybe hundreds of delicious flavor compounds. THAT’s why a good sear is so important.

Once the outside has a good sear, close the grill vents halfway. move the steaks to the cooler side of the grill, and cover up again. Cooking quickly on the hot side and letting the steak finish more slowly on the cooler side is what’s going to give you the perfect seared outside and pink medium-rare throughout inside. Insert a meat thermometer in one of the steaks. If these were thinner cuts we could just test the doneness by touch, but with thick filet cuts a meat thermometer will make sure they’re just right. And “just right” for me is medium rare. I used to say the rarer the better, but these days I think medium rare makes for the best flavor and texture. And as I said in the Steak Au Poivre post, anything more than medium rare is just a crime against the steak.  I like to throw a handful of hickory chips that I soaked in water for a half hour onto the coals at this point. Not necessary if you don’t want to, but it gives the steaks a nice added smoky flavor.

So when the meat thermometer is EXACTLY at 125 degrees (140-150 degrees for medium/medium well if you really have to) take the steaks off the heat and let them rest for 5-10 minutes. Resting the steak is important because it allows the meat juices to reabsorb back into the muscle fibers of the steak so it stays nice and juicy. If you start cutting the steak up too soon those juices will just run out onto your plate.

Serve with your favorite vegetable and side (I did grilled asparagus from the applewood smoked chicken post and simple baked potatoes). Enjoy your perfectly grilled steak!

 

Steak Au Poivre

Steak Au Poivre

Steak Au Poivre

First post! Please forgive the pics, I took them on my iphone and they’re not the greatest. From here on I promise to use a better camera.

Steak Au Poivre is one of my favorite recipes to make because it’s pretty simple to cook; and it’s one of our favorite recipes to eat because the results are outstanding.

Ingredients:

  • 4 thick-cut tenderloin steaks
  • 5-6 small red potatoes
  • Butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 oz. Brandy or whiskey
  • 1/2-1 cup beef stock
  • Kosher salt
  • Coarse ground black pepper

Special Utensils:

  • Cast-iron skillet
  • Meat thermometer
  • Long-handled lighter
Steak Au Poivre

Salted and peppered

Take the steaks out of the refrigerator about 1/2 hour before you cook them- I like them to get closer to room temp before they go on the heat. Put coarse ground pepper and kosher salt on both sides…how much pepper is up to you, but the “Au Poivre” part of the name is French for “with pepper”… so  if you don’t like pepper it will still taste great, you’ll just have to call it something else.

 

Potato Wedges

Potato Wedges

A nice side for this meal is some twice-baked potato wedges.  Start heating up the oven at 350 degrees. Wash and scrub the potatoes, then put them on a plate and microwave them for about 5 minutes. Turn them over once, and microwave for a few minutes more. Give them a little squeeze at this point to see if they’re cooked through. If so, cut them up into quarters and put them on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Put whatever seasonings you like on them– salt, pepper, thyme, and a little granulated garlic powder are what I put on mine.

Steaks Searing

Searin' up good

Now get out your trusty cast-iron skillet and heat it up. Don’t have one? A cast-iron skillet is a great tool in your cooking arsenal, and they don’t cost too much new. You might even luck out and find one at a garage sale. In any case, you shouldn’t use a teflon pan. So once the pan is heated up, put a nice big spoonful of butter in there and let it melt. Now, you probably noticed this isn’t the most low-fat meal. I actually used a more heart-healthy butter substitute called Smart Balance. This would probably be heresy to a pro chef, but I think it tastes a lot like butter and cutting out every little bit of saturated fat helps, I figure. If I was making this for company I’d go with the real butter. Go ahead and use either. Now throw the steaks in and let them sear for about 4 minutes on each side. If they’re thick enough you might want to sear the steaks on 4 sides.

When the steaks have a nice dark brown sear, put them on a foil-lined cookie sheet and insert the meat thermometer, another essential tool to have in your arsenal. That way you can make sure they’re perfectly to your liking (which of course should be rare to medium rare). Put the steaks in the oven along with the potato wedges.

Steak Au Poivre Sauce

Stirrin' the sauce

Now the sauce. Turn the heat down on the pan and pour in the brandy. If you don’t have Brandy or you don’t want to buy a bottle just for this recipe, you can substitute whiskey. Here’s the completely optional fun part- take a long-handled lighter and set the alcohol on fire! Be very careful not to burn yourself. I don’t know if fire really makes the sauce better or not, so don’t worry about it if you want to skip this step. I’m a pyro so I choose to ignite. Shake the pan around a bit until the fire goes out (unfortunately my fire went out before I could get a good pic). Now do what is called deglazing: take a stirring spoon to scrape with, and use the cognac to dissolve the delicious browned bits of steak sticking to the bottom and make it part of the sauce. Add the beef stock now, and you can use the stock to help deglaze if the cognac has evaporated too much. A restaurant chef would use a special evaporated beef stock called demiglace, but good luck finding that at the grocery store. I’ll often take a can of low-sodium beef stock and simmer it down by half on the stove. Or I use my own beef stock if I have any- I’ll do a post on making your own stock soon. So as you’re stirring the cognac/beef stock mix on low heat, slowly mix in the heavy cream. You won’t need too much cream, just enough to give it that coffee with cream look like the pic above. Keep stirring on low heat until the sauce thickens enough to stick to the back of a spoon.

Keep an eye on the temp and take the steaks out when it’s 125 for rare to medium rare (or 140-160 if you want to commit a crime against your steaks and cook them medium-medium well). Let them rest for 5 or 10 minutes before serving. Take out the potato wedges when they’re a nice golden brown. Put the steak and wedges on a plate and add the sauce on and around the steak. You don’t need much sauce- a little goes a long way. I added some steamed broccoli for a side veggie because that’s what we had, but asparagus is a good choice for this meal.

Enjoy!