Sunday, June 13, 2010

Saturday Dinner - Grilled Steak Tuscan-Style and Grilled Veggie Pasta

 If you plan on following this blog closely, or not even closely at all you'll find out that I am a HUGE steak eater. Growing up, steak was, more often that not, our Sunday dinner. I pretty much love all steak, however, as I've grown up and my taste buds have matured (as my Mom would say) I am really into nice thick NY steaks or tenderloins. I like them rare. In fact, I eat beef carpaccio whenever it's on the menu so I would even eat my steaks raw.

Last night we tried a recipe from Cook's Illustrated Summer Grilling 2010 issue "Grilling Steak, Tuscan-Style". I'm sure re-posting the recipe here violates all sorts of copyright laws, but until enough people actually read this thing I hope to get away with it. The difference from what we normally do with steak was a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon over the grilled steak after it had rested. I was a little skeptical about the lemon especially, but WOW! this was one of the best steaks I had ever eaten, let alone made myself. I beg you to try your next grilled T-bone this way.

A note on grilling, real quick: We are pretty hard core grillers. We grill in the rain, in the snow, in the winter, in the fall, etc. But that's because we were blessed with a super nice propane grill that the owner of our house left us. We recently had to give the grill back to it's rightful owner (no hard feelings, Jennifer) so we broke out the charcoal last night. Propane is SO super easy, we were spoiled. I found out last night that charcoal is not my friend.  We used old charcoal, so that was our first mistake. Use fresh charcoal, people! Next time I want to try the hardwood type but all we had was MatchLight on hand so we used that. Anyway, to make a LONG story somewhat short - it took an hour and a half for the charcoals to get just right and even then I was so antsy and hungry I put the steaks on some really hot coals. It turned out fine, though, so I can't really complain...

Grilled Steak, Tuscan-Style (from Cook's Illustrated):
 2 T-bone or porterhouse steaks, each 1 1/2 inches thick (about 3 1/2 lbs. total), patted dry
2 TSPs kosher salt
1 TSP ground black pepper
3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
Vegetable oil for cooking grate
Lemon wedges for serving

1. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal (6 quarts, about 100 briquettes) and burn until charcoal is fully ignited and partially covered with a layer of fine gray ash, about 15 - 20 minutes (or an hour and a half if you are us). Build 2-level fire by stacking two-thirds of coals over half of grill and remaining coals in single layer over other half. Position cooking grate over coals, cover grill and heat grate until hot, about 5 minutes. Scrape grate clean with grill brush. Grill is ready when temperature of stacked coals is medium-hot and that of remaining coals is medium-low.

2. Lightly dip wad of paper towels in vegetable oil; holding wad with tongs, wipe cooking grate. Meanwhile, season each side of the steak with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook steaks, uncovered, over hotter side of grill until well browned on each side, about 2 1/2 minutes per side. Move steaks to cooler side of grill and continue cooking, turning once, to desired doneness. For me, this was about 2 minutes per side due to the heat of the coals, but the recipe says 5-6 minutes for rare and 6-7 more medium-rare.

3. Transfer steaks to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Cut strip and tenderloin pieces off bone and slice crosswise about 1/2 inch thick. Arrange slices on a platter and drizzle with olive oil. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

This pasta is one of our all-time favorite pasta dishes. It's versatile, you can add what ever you want. Sometimes we do it with just the brown butter and mizithra Old Spaghetti Factory-style. Sometimes we add pancetta. Sometimes we add these grilled veggies - and it's my favorite way to make it. Grilled eggplant is one of those things that sounds kind of gross - especially if you're on the fence about eggplant, but trust, it's really good once you cook all the eggplant-y taste out. A good sear is a MUST for the eggplant.

Grilled Veggie Pasta:
Vegetables, we used eggplant, zucchini, red and yellow bell pepper and asparagus
Olive Oil
Angel hair pasta or spaghettini
1/2 C butter
Mizithra cheese, grated

Cut veggies into grill friendly sizes. Spears or rounds work well for the eggplant. Spears work for the zucchini and the bell peppers can just be cut in half after you take out the seeds.

Place in a Ziploc baggie and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. (Have you noticed I use a lot of Ziploc baggies in this fashion? It's a neat trick.)

Place veggies on a well-oiled grill at about medium heat. These babies all grill for about 5 minutes per side until they are all cooked through and soft and the outside has a nice char on it.

Remove from grill, let cool and chop into bite sized pieces. 

Cook pasta according to the package. Drain and let sit while the veggies cook. When you're ready to eat brown the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Watch the butter carefully - once it turns brown it can burn really quickly.

I had wanted to get a picture of the browned butter but I was on grill duty and Trey was on browned butter duty and he is not as into taking pictures of every single thing than I am. One day I'll get one so you can see what it should look like.

Put drained pasta back in the pot you used to cook it and cover with the browned butter and stir. Add some of the mizithra and toss together. Add the grilled veggies and serve immediately.

Bon appetit!

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