Our vegetable garden was brimming with an assortment of aromatic herbs and one of them that exploded recently was the tarragon. We often pair tarragon with chicken but thought perhaps steak might make a good companion for a change.
Never used tarragon? It is a leafy green herb that is highly aromatic with a subtle licorice flavor. It adds a fresh, spring taste and a bit of elegance to a variety of recipes, including salad dressings, sauces, fish, chicken, and in this case, a steak dish. In France, it is referred to as “the king of herbs” because of its ability to elevate a dish, and is one of the four herbs in the French mixture fines herbes, a combination of parsley, tarragon, chervil, and chives.
While the cooking time for this recipe is minimal, you want to make sure you leave ample time to marinate the meat so that it gets all happy in those flavors of mustard, white wine, scallions and of course, tarragon.
From mid- to late-summer we often pair our grilled entrées with fresh picked corn and locally grown tomatoes, and this was no exception. The basil was just plucked from our herb garden for the caprese salad, which is also where the tarragon came from.
1/4 cup mustard (Dijon or grainy Dijon mustard work really well for this)
3 scallions, chopped
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon, plus extra for garnish
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
Combine oil, wine, mustard, scallions and chopped tarragon in a zipper plastic bag. Add steak, seal bag and rotate until steak is coated.
Marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours and up to overnight, turning the bag over occasionally.
Heat grill to high. Reserve some marinade for basting, discard the rest. Grill steak for 5 minutes per side for medium rare, 125° on an instant-read thermometer.
Rest steak on a moated carving board under foil for 10 minutes (don’t skip this step) and then thinly slice at an angle and against the grain. Arrange on a platter and drizzle any accumulated juices over meat. Serve at once.
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.)
To create a recipe for a carne asada platter that satisfies like the original, Cook’s Illustrated started with skirt steak. Alas, our supermarket was not carrying skirt steak at the time, but had some nice flank steaks, so that’s what we went with. Adapt and prosper, right?
Here, a dry salting promotes faster browning on the grill. Afterward you give the steak a squeeze of fresh lime before serving for an added dimension of flavor. To speed up charring even more and create a large enough area of concentrated heat to cook all four steaks at once, Cook’s Illustrated cut the bottom from a disposable aluminum roasting pan and used it to corral the coals. Not us. We didn’t even pound down the meat to a 1/4″. Just gas-grilled them after refrigeration and got a beautiful medium-rare after 4-5 minutes on each side to reach 130°.
Mexican-Style Grilled Steak
For heady garlic flavor, treat the cooked steaks like bruschetta, rubbing their rough crusts with a smashed garlic clove. And don’t forget to make the smoky, earthy guajillo Red Chile Salsa—it’s the perfect accompaniment to the steak. If you can’t locate the guajillos at your grocery store or specialty ethnic market, they are easily ordered online.
In addition, we made Simple Refried Beans from a can of pinto beans, chopped onion and garlic. Even though the instructions indicate to start with a nonstick skillet, we didn’t because the potato masher could mar the surface of the pan.
1 (2-lb.) skirt steak, trimmed, pounded 1/4 inch thick and cut with grain into 4 equal steaks
1 (13″ x 9″) disposable aluminum roasting pan (if using charcoal)
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
Combine salt and cumin in small bowl. Sprinkle salt mixture evenly over both sides of steaks. Transfer steaks to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 45 minutes or up to 24 hours.
Meanwhile, if using charcoal, use kitchen shears to remove bottom of disposable pan and discard, reserving pan collar.
FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, place disposable pan collar in center of grill over bottom vent and pour coals into even layer in collar. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes. FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave all burners on high.
Clean and oil cooking grate. Place steaks on grill (if using charcoal, arrange steaks over coals in collar) and cook, uncovered, until well browned on first side, 2 to 4 minutes.
Flip steaks and continue to cook until well browned on second side and meat registers 130 degrees, 2 to 4 minutes longer.
Transfer steaks to carving board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 minutes.
Rub garlic thoroughly over 1 side of steaks. Slice steaks against grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices and serve with lime wedges.
Fire-roasted tomatoes are the secret ingredient in this salsa. They add smoky depth without adding extra work. Dried guajillo chiles are toasted and ground for rich, deep flavor. Vinegar and spices round out the mixture for a salsa that is smoky, spicy, and slightly tart.
A guajillo chile (in Spanish, meaning big pod) is the second-most commonly used dried chili in Mexican cuisine after poblanos (ancho).There are two main varieties that are distinguished by their size and heat factors. The guajillo puya is the smaller and hotter of the two. In contrast, the longer and wider guajillo has a more pronounced, richer flavor and is somewhat less spicy, which is what we used here.
Toast guajillos in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until softened and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes per side.
Transfer to large plate and, when cool enough to handle, remove stems and seeds.
Place guajillos in blender and process until finely ground, 60 to 90 seconds, scraping down sides of blender jar as needed.
Add tomatoes and their juice, water, salt, garlic, vinegar, oregano, pepper, clove, and cumin to blender and process until very smooth, 60 to 90 seconds, scraping down sides of blender jar as needed. (Salsa can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)
A couple of slices of bacon fat gives the beans meaty depth. Onions and garlic provide savory notes, while the rich canning liquid from pinto beans helps to create a silky texture and a rich flavor. Mash the beans with a potato masher for a partly smooth, partly chunky texture.
bacon, 2 slices
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 15-oz. can pinto beans (do not drain)
1/4 cup water
Heat bacon in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat until fat renders and bacon crisps, 7 to 10 minutes, flipping bacon halfway through. Remove bacon and reserve for another use (or eat as a snack while finishing dinner 😉 ).
Increase heat to medium, add onion to fat in skillet, and cook until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add beans and their liquid and water and bring to simmer. Cook, mashing beans with potato masher, until mixture is mostly smooth, 5 to 7 minutes.
Grilling season is the best, on so many levels. In many cases it’s quick, it’s easy, few pots or pans are used, and your meal screams summer. And this simple Skirt Steak with BA.1 Sauce fits all of that criteria to a T.
Sweet, salty, tart, and goosed with secret sources of umami, steak sauce may be the ideal foil for a sizzling slab of red meat. We… whipped up a signature steak sauce of our own. It’s big on flavor, free of weird preservatives, and comes together in about a minute flat. Welcome to the world, BA.1.
In some ways, the taste of this sauce resembles A1 Sauce, but without the processed taste, and it’s a bit lighter in consistency. I loved it so much, I also added it to my side of grilled asparagus.
1 Tbsp. vinegar-based hot sauce (such as Frank’s or Crystal)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey
Steak and Assembly
Vegetable oil (for grill)
1½ lb. skirt steak, cut into thick slices
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Flaky sea salt
Whisk vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, oil, hot sauce, mustard, honey, and 1 Tbsp. water in a medium bowl to combine; season with salt.
Do ahead: Sauce can be made 2 months ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
Steak and Assembly
Prepare a grill for medium-high heat; oil grate.
Season steak generously with kosher salt and pepper.
Grill, turning every 1–2 minutes and moving closer to or farther away from heat as needed to build even color, until nicely charred and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of steak registers 125°(juices pooling on top of meat is a fairly good indicator that meat has reached medium-rare), 7–9 minutes.
Transfer steaks to a cutting board and let rest 5–10 minutes before slicing against the grain.
Transfer steak to plates and top with sauce. Crack some pepper over and sprinkle with sea salt.