“Spicy, garlicky thecha is a green-(or red)-chile-based condiment that hails from Maharashtra in western India. You can use it to complement seared skirt steak, as well as chicken, eggplant, cauliflower, or any other ingredient that longs for massive flavor.” — Bon Appétit
Since we had some flap meat in the freezer, and actually prefer it over skirt steak, it became the foundation for our meal. Because flap steak is thicker than skirt, we sliced the thicker portions and adjusted the times slightly. However, the Skirt Steak with Scallion Thecha recipe below mimics the original from Bon Appétit.
NOTE: To save a step, grind the peanuts in the mini-food processor before using it to make the thecha.
Our choice of sides was roasted butternut squash and red onions, plus a side salad; but you could also serve the steak with rice, roasted potatoes, and/or a salad for a full meal. Our Thai chiles were red, so the thecha is more red than one made with green serrano chiles, as is typical.
1 small bunch cilantro, tough stems removed, leaves and tender stems coarsely chopped
4 scallions, coarsely chopped
3 green Thai or serrano chiles, stemmed and seeded
4 garlic cloves, coarsest chopped
1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more
⅓ cup vegetable oil, plus more for steak
1 tsp. cumin seeds
¼ cup salted or unsalted roasted peanuts, crushed
1½ lb. ½”-thick skirt steak, cut into 5”-long pieces
Flaky sea salt
Pulse cilantro, scallions, chiles, garlic, and 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt in a food processor (a mini processor works well here) until a coarse paste forms. Transfer to a small heatproof bowl.
Heat ⅓ cup oil in a small skillet over medium-high. Cook cumin until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Transfer to bowl with paste; add peanuts and mix well. Set scallion thecha aside for serving.
Pat steaks dry with paper towels and season on both sides with kosher salt. Rub a little oil over steaks to coat lightly.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add half of the steak, arranging in a single layer, and cook, undisturbed, until a golden brown crust forms, 2–3 minutes. Turn steak over and cook until second side forms a golden brown crust, 2–3 minutes. (We had a large enough grill pan to cook all of the steak at once.)
Transfer steak to a cutting board and repeat process with remaining steak, if necessary. Let rest 10 minutes.
Slice steak against the grain and arrange on a platter. Top with reserved scallion thecha and sprinkle with sea salt.
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
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.
Don’t you just love one-pan meals? Here’s one from Milk Street that borrowed some of the flavors of Greek moussaka. Although a traditional Greek Moussaka recipe has luscious layers of juicy ground beef or lamb cooked in a tomato based sauce, layered with sweet eggplants and potatoes, topped off with a creamy béchamel sauce and baked until perfectly golden, this a fantastic riff.
Here, seared flank steak is finished with a rustic sauce-like side of eggplant, tomatoes, garlic and herbs. Crumbled feta cheese adds briny notes that contrast nicely with the sweetness of the vegetables and the richness of the beef. Crusty bread, rice or potatoes are good side dish choices if you’re not counting carbs.
We had both flank steak and flap meat in our freezer, and, you guessed it, I did’t realize until after the meat had thawed that I removed flap steaks. Both started with “fla” and that is all that I saw on the package so I’m giving myself an out that it was an easy mistake. In fact, since we prefer the beefy taste of flap meat, it was serendipitous! Please note that flap meat needs an extra couple of minutes in the pan to reach temperature.
Keep in mind, you don’t want to drain the juices from the tomatoes. The liquid helps form the sauce and prevents the eggplant from drying out so that the pieces become silky-soft. When slicing the flank steak for serving, make sure to slice it against the grain for the tenderest texture.
Absolutely delicious! We could wax poetic for days on what a wonderful dish it was!
recipe title=”Flank Steak with Tomato-Eggplant Ragu” servings=”4″ time=”35 min” difficulty=”easy”]
1½ lbs. flank steak or flap meat, trimmed, halved lengthwise, then crosswise
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 1b. eggplant, cut into 1-inch chunks
14½ oz. can diced tomatoes
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ cup lightly packed fresh mint, chopped
1½ oz. feta cheese, crumbled (about ⅓ cup)
Season the steak with salt and pepper. In a nonstick 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the steak and brown on both sides, 6 to 8 minutes total (8-10 minutes for flap meat), flipping the pieces once. An instant-read thermometer should show 125° for medium-rare. Transfer to a moated cutting board and cover with foil.
In the same pan over medium-high, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the eggplant and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and softened, 5 to 6 minutes.
Reduce to medium and add the tomatoes with juices, the garlic, oregano and cinnamon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and the eggplant has begun to break down, about 5 minutes.
Off heat, stir in any accumulated beef juices and half the mint. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Thinly slice the steak against the grain and place on a platter. Spoon the eggplant mixture on and around the steak, then sprinkle with feta and the remaining mint.
I‘ve posted several blogs on flap meat. The only place we ever find it is at Costco, so we load up on it when we go there. Flap steak is cut from the bottom sirloin and is sometimes call beef loin tip. It is less tender than more expensive steaks, but has a great beefy flavor. It is ideal for marinating and needs to be cooked quickly on high heat for medium rare.
Although it has the reputation for not being very tender, we don’t seem to have that experience. It is well-marbled and flavorful and sometimes called bavette, but bavette can also refer to flank steak, which is a different cut altogether.
Our steak marinated for the full eight hours, and then we grilled it for about 12 minutes total for medium-rare at 125°. The original recipe indicated to cook the meat for 20-25 minutes, that would be well-done, a no-no in our house!
Some of our strips had thick and thinner ends. You may want to cut the thinner portions off and add them to the grill a few minutes after the thick pieces have cooked. This will ensure the meat is all cooked to the same temperature, if that is your desired outcome. (Discard any leftover marinade.)
The sizzling arrival of cast-iron plates of marinated steakhouse steak tips is often the most exciting part about them, so says Cook’s Country. In this version of Grilled Steakhouse Steak Tips, they replace the typical sickly sweet marinade culprits—ketchup, barbeque sauce, and cola—with a mixture of soy sauce, oil, dark brown sugar, and tomato paste for enhanced meaty flavor and maximum char. WOW, great results!
Typically, if you can even find it (hello Costco), flap meat is sold as whole steaks, strips, and pieces. For even pieces, buy a whole steak of uniform size and cut it up yourself. We’ve only found it at Costco sold in thick strips, but that is perfect for this method. And instead of cutting it down into 2 1/2-inch pieces we kept them to about 5 inch lengths.
This is not your grandma’s steak and potatoes recipe. The marinade has a hint of sweetness from the brown sugar but otherwise is a great companion to beefy flap meat. If you get the opportunity, try to marinate for the total 24 hours, but a minimum of 2 hours will provide enough flavor. If, like us, you are medium-rare fans, take the steaks off when they reach 125-130° (they may have to come off at separate times). Cover with foil and let rest for 5-10 minutes.
As an accompaniment, we made these fabulous potatoes which The Hubs found in a video on Tik Tok, thus we named them “Tik Tok Taters”. We made a major alteration to the directions however because after initially boiling the potatoes for the 20-25 minutes as indicated, they were beyond fork tender and falling apart. So we shortened the boiling time in this phase to 12-15 minutes, which is shown in the directions below.