Occasionally, when grocery shopping, we come across great meat prices, so we buy what strikes our fancy with the intention of vacuum-sealing and storing in one of our freezers until a future date. It dawned on us we could never remember exactly what we bought and where it was stored, so we started writing a list. Well, that hand-written list became messy and hard to decipher so then we had the brilliant idea to keep an Excel spreadsheet and share it on One Drive so that it can be accessed from any of our devices.
For the most part, it’s been a tremendous aid, until we neglect to delete items that we’ve already used. I’m telling you this because that’s exactly what happened for this meal. The day before we planned on cooking it, I went to retrieve the flank steak from the downstairs freezer, which is where the Excel file said it was, and couldn’t find it, nor could The Hubs.
But Excel also indicated we had two packages of flap meat, which actually happens to be more to our liking than flank steak. So yes, you guessed it, we did use the flap meat for this recipe—and removed it from the Freezer Inventory database.
Here, the steak and sweet potatoes share a spice rub, but they are cooked separately. The steak is sear-roasted in a screaming-hot skillet, then finished in a moderate oven. Molly Stevens author of the original recipe, suggests leaving the skin on the sweet potatoes to obtain a textural contrast with the smooth insides and rugged skin. We chose otherwise.
Rubbing the steak ahead of time and leaving uncovered in the fridge for 2-12 hours, allows the the spice rub to works its magic in keeping the meat juicy, and it also gives the flavors time to penetrate and enhance the taste of the steak.
The smoky-spicy aioli is fabulous when drizzled over both the potatoes and steak bringing it all together. We made a note in the cookbook to double the aioli next time—it’s that good! A simple side salad completed the meal and added that fresh component.
Spice-Rubbed Flank Steak and Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle Aioli
- 2 tsp. paprika, sweet or hot
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1⁄2 tsp. ancho chili powder
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1⁄2 to 2 lb. flank steak or flap meat
- 3 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled
- 3 Tbsp. grapeseed or peanut oil
- 1⁄2 tsp. canned chipotle in adobo, minced; plus 1⁄2 tsp. adobo sauce from can
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 1⁄3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- Combine paprika, cumin, chili powder, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and several grinds of black pepper in a small bowl. Divide the mixture in half.
- With the steak on a platter, sprinkle half of the spice mixture all over the steak, rubbing it into the meat. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 2 hours, and up to 12 hours.
- Combine the chipotle, adobo sauce, garlic and 1⁄4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl and mash to a paste with a wooden spoon. Whisk in the mayonnaise and olive oil. Add the lime juice, stir and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Heat the oven to 400°.
- Cut the sweet potatoes lengthwise in half and then into wedges that are about 1-inch across at their widest part. If any of them are 6 inches or more, cut them in half. Put them on a rimed baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil, and toss to coat. Season with the remaining spice rub and toss again. Spread out in a single layer.
- Roast in preheated oven until tender, about 30 minutes, turning once halfway through.
- After the sweet potatoes have roasted for about 20 minutes, heat a large ovenproof skillet, such as cast iron, until very hot. Coat with the remaining tablespoon of oil and sear the steak until well-browned on the first side, about 1 1⁄2 minutes. Flip and brown the second side for another 2 minutes.
- Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 5 to 7 minutes for medium-rare (120° to 125°); 7 to 9 minutes for medium (125° to 130°).
- If the potatoes are done before the steak, let them sit at room temperature, or leave them in the oven with the temperature turned off. Do not cover with foil or they will steam and turn soggy.
- Transfer the steak to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Thinly slice the steak against the grain (if using flap meat, serves in large chunks). Serve the sweet potatoes along side, spooning a little aioli over everything. Pass any extra aioli around the table.
Adapted from a recipe in All About Dinner by Molly Stevens