Last night’s dinner was a disaster…and I made it! No kidding. I am just beginning the recipe-testing phase of a new article for Real Food magazine and am working on the Summer 2011 entertaining issue. Many magazines work way ahead, and before long, I’ll be using the cranberries currently in my freezer (from last November) to do the Thanksgiving feature — due this summer! The theme of these food stories has been “planning ahead” — with much of the prep done in advance, and the menu choreographed in such a way so that you, the cook-and-host, can enjoy your own party. This year’s do-ahead dinner will include “dry-spiced” flank steak ceremoniously glazed with pomegranate and fragrant thyme. That was to be last night’s family meal. One of the benefits of writing food stories is that often there is food to eat — and generally, it’s quite good. If not the first try, then surely the second. Last night, even the third hit was a miss. It was enough to make a grown girl cry. The problem was the pomegranate molasses. Somehow I thought this would be a good idea, to use just a bit of the tart syrupy elixir and to it add soy sauce, tomato paste, grated red onion, dark brown sugar, fresh bay leaves, and a bit of cumin. Well, it looked gorgeous and the marinade tasted real good. But I had a premonition that such a concoction belonged on poultry or pork. Four hours of marination, and a red-hot sear in a pan, made the meat taste like, well, the only word I can think of is…unknowable. I scraped off the marinade and tried broiling it. It was awful. The third attempt deployed a simpler glaze but with disastrous results. My family was starving. What to do? I poured a bottle of chunky red salsa over the whole thing and finished cooking the meat in a 500-degree oven. “Dinner’s ready,” I meekly suggested. I carved the steak into thick rosy slices and poured some unusual pan juices over both the meat and the salad that I threw together. My husband had spent much of the afternoon roasting an enormous beet. It was pretty undercooked. Chewy, in fact. We cut it up and ate it anyway. I believe my husband actually called it “Chewish.” And that, my friends, is the end of the story.
But here’s a yummy thing to do with flank steak. You can serve it thickly sliced (on the bias) for dinner tonight or wait until the Super Bowl and carve it ever-so-thin on top of slices of toasted baguette — it’s a “he-man” canape and great with beer or martinis.
My Flank Steak “Chimichurri”
2 pounds flank steak
3/4 packed cup chopped flat parsley
1/4 packed cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ scant teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 long, thin baguette, about 8 ounces, if using for canapes
Season meat with salt and pepper. Place all ingredients (except bread) in bowl of food processor. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Process until very smooth. Coat meat lightly with 2 tablespoons dressing on each side. Let sit 1 hour. Reserve remaining sauce.
(Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice bread into 40 thin slices. Place on large baking sheet and bake until just firm, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven.)
Preheat broiler. Place flank steak on broiler pan. Broil for 4 minutes on each side for medium rare. Transfer to cutting board. Let rest 5 minutes. Sprinkle again with salt. Cut into thick slices, on the bias, and drizzle with remaining sauce. Serves 4
Or, if making canapes, slice very thin, against the grain, and place on croutons. Spread each with a little sauce. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes about 40