August is typically known as the hot and sultry “dog-days” of summer, but they came a month early this year. July was a beast indeed, with countless days at 90 degrees or above. And the humidity? Fugeddaboutit! With no relief in sight, we decided to make entree salads for most of our dinners this past week. Here’s the first in a series of three:
First up was the Steak Salad with Grilled Red Onions. With forecasts indicating Monday would be the hottest day of the year so far—hovering around 100 degrees with feel-like temps of 107—we grilled the red onions and steak on Sunday while also preparing our Cedar-Planked Salmon dinner (blog posted on July 27.)
This meaty main-course salad has loads of full flavor thanks to a glaze on the steak, a mustardy vinaigrette, and a generous sprinkling of blue cheese. It was a breeze to throw together on Monday evening, and hardly any dishes to deal with afterward!
What is the difference between skirt, flank, hanger and flatiron steak? These pieces of beef are all alike in one way: they’ve made their way up the steak food chain in recent years. The skirt steak is probably the best of the four because it has more fat and therefore, more flavor and grills up juicier. But all are great for grilling, pan frying, wok cooking and other dry heat cooking methods. Formerly tossed aside, bound for ground beef, or reserved for butchers themselves to eat, these under-appreciated cuts have been sneaking their way onto restaurant menus as chefs and customers alike see their value.
Skirt steak is a long belt of meat from the belly of the steer. It’s a thin cut with a visible grain, sort of like a loosely woven version of flank steak. But skirt steak is a big treat when you cook it right. Sear or grill it quickly, slice it thin, and you’ll have a lean, juicy steak with plenty of flavor. Most often used in fajitas, it should be marinated in acid and olive oil for a few hours to overnight to increase tenderness. This recipe doesn’t indicate how long to marinate, but try to give it at least an hour before throwing on the grill.
If the thickness is not uniform, pound the meat with the flat side of a meat mallet until the steak is about 1/4 inch thick. That may seem thin, but the steak pulls back together as it cooks. Pounding also tenderizes the meat by breaking down connective tissue. OK, now that you’re an expert, have at it…
The steak is marinating in a mixture of olive oil and Worcestershire sauce.
Marinated skirt steak is grilled at the same time as the onions for just a matter of minutes.
The red onion slices brushed with oil are grilled until tender, about 4 minutes per side.
- 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup plus 3 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. skirt steak, trimmed and cut in half
- 4 tsp. sherry vinegar
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp. honey
- 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium red onion, sliced crosswise in 1/4-inch-thick rounds
- 6 oz. baby greens (6 packed cups)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 3 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
- Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat or prepare a medium-high (400°F) gas or charcoal grill fire.
- In a baking dish just large enough to hold the steak, combine the Worcestershire sauce and 1 tsp. olive oil. Add the steak and turn to coat both sides.
- Combine the vinegar, mustard, honey, garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, and several grinds of black pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the 1/4 cup olive oil.
- Brush the onion slices with the remaining 2 tsp. olive oil, and grill until tender, about 4 minutes per side. Season the steak with salt and pepper and grill alongside the onion, flipping once, 3 to 5 minutes total for medium rare. Transfer the steak to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes.
- Toss the greens and tomatoes with just enough of the vinaigrette to coat lightly and divide among serving plates. Slice the steak across the grain, separate the onion into rings, and arrange both over the greens. Sprinkle the blue cheese over the salad, drizzle with additional dressing, if you like, and serve.
by Laraine Perri from Fine Cooking
Be on the lookout for salad #2: Pork Souvlaki Salad with Black Pepper Tzatziki