Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Let the Grill Do the Work

We celebrated Memorial Day by going to war on the mess in our house.  It was the hottest day we’ve had so far, and we were worn out from housework, so at dinnertime we wanted something quick that didn’t heat up the house.  To the grill!  We first tried this flank steak recipe last spring, serving it to guests, and it was a hit.  I like it because it doesn’t require the advanced planning of a marinade.  The recipe comes from Cook’s Country, and is one of their 30 Minute Meals.
Grilled Flank Steak with Charred Sweet Onion Relish
Serves 4

flank steak (about 1 1/2 pounds)
red onion , peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds (see note)
tablespoons  vegetable oil 
cup  red wine vinegar 
teaspoon  cayenne pepper 
tablespoons  brown sugar 
tablespoon  chopped fresh parsley 

1. Pat steak dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Brush onion rounds with 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt. Grill steak over hot fire until well browned and cooked to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Grill onion until charred and soft, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer steak and onion to cutting board and tent with foil.
2. When cool enough to handle, chop onion coarsely. Heat remaining oil in small saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, vinegar, sugar, cayenne, and any accumulated beef juices and simmer until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in parsley. Slice steak thinly against grain. Serve steak with relish.

Onions and flank steak ready for the grill
Charred onion relish thickening on the stove

It's important to slice the steak thinly across the grain

I wasn’t perfectly faithful to the recipe.  I didn’t have red onion, but the yellow onion I did have worked fine.  I also didn’t have any cayenne pepper, but since the relish already had vinegar in it, I figured a similar amount of hot sauce would do, and it did.

When I was writing a previous blog post last week, I ran across this recipe on Cuisine at Home and thought it would be the perfect side here.
Grilled Steak Fries with Dijon Mayonnaise
Makes: 8 servings
Total time: 30 minutes

large russet potatoes, each cut into 8 wedges
Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
cup shredded Cheddar cheese
cup mayonnaise
Tbsp. Dijon mustard
strips bacon, diced and fried until crisp
Tbsp. chopped scallion

Preheat grill to medium. 
Toss potato wedges with oil, salt, and pepper. Grill potatoes, uncovered, until tender when pierced, 10–15 minutes. Turn potatoes halfway through to create grill marks on both sides. Transfer potato wedges to a foil pan or a baking dish; sprinkle with Cheddar. Turn off grill; place pan on grill to allow residual heat to melt Cheddar. 
Combine mayonnaise and Dijon for the sauce in a small bowl. Garnish with bacon and scallion.
Since I already had the vegetable oil out for the flank steak recipe, I just used that instead of olive oil.  I halved the recipe, and I edited the sauce a bit, omitting the scallions, using real bacon bits instead of going to the trouble of frying bacon, and I added about ½ teaspoon of prepared horseradish.  It was delicious!

To round out the meal I made a salad from the fresh spinach my in-laws brought from their garden this weekend, a couple of fresh strawberries, some honey roasted almonds, and feta cheese. 

Looks as good as it tastes!
For dessert, I made a summertime favorite—we call it Fluff.  I’ve also called it Pot of Gold, but that was because I was taking it to a St. Patrick’s day potluck.  Whatever you call it, you’ll love it!  It’s cool and refreshing, and it works as a dessert or a fruit salad, if you’re not too picky about the definition of "salad."  I put it together at lunch because it’s so much better if it has a couple of hours to chill, but you can eat it right away, and believe me, I have.  I have the short list of ingredients on hand all summer long.
1 lg. can crushed pineapple
1 box instant vanilla pudding
2 sm. cans mandarin oranges, drained and snipped into bite-sized pieces (I just use kitchen shears right in the can)
1 tub whipped topping

Drain the pineapple over a bowl, reserving all the juice.  Press out as much juice as you can.  Whisk the instant pudding mix into the pineapple juice, whisking constantly for at least two minutes to thicken.  Fold in the pineapple, oranges and the whipped topping until well combined.  Chill before serving.

I use a fine mesh strainer to make sure I get out as much juice as possible.

Folding the fruit into the thickened pudding

It looks great even before it chills and sets up some more!
You can make this a bit healthier by using the fat-free whipped topping, but the one time I tried that it didn’t seem to set up very well.  That may be because I didn’t whisk it long enough, though.  You could also use sugar-free pudding.  The Rev has asked that I put flaked coconut in, too.  Next time I try it, I’ll let you know how it turns out.  I suspect the coconut will only ratchet up the awesomeness.

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