Next in the queue, a recipe that caught my eye because it's by Stephanie Izard. Izard is the chef of Girl and the Goat, where I dined last summer on a trip to Chicago with friends. My favorite girlfriend's husband had a job interview, so I tagged along for a day of shopping and gastronomy. Dinner at Girl and the Goat was great, minus having to take her husband outside and babysit him on the sidewalk after he drank too much. Our group of friends took turns sitting with him so no one would have to miss the meal. It ended up being funny fodder for a wedding toast! Anyway, it was the first time I ate goat or pig face. I can't wait to go back. By the way, if you're from the Girl and the Goat and reading this, my friend is still apologetic about the glass he broke, and the nap he took at the table until we shepherded him to the sidewalk so you wouldn't kick us out. A bad job interview and double-fisting Manhattans will do that, I guess. His loss since he's the first of us to go foodie, and he missed the meal!
Back to Stephanie Izard. I have endless respect for women who brave traditionally men's jobs, and a woman like Stephanie who schooled the boys on Top Chef. Sometimes I feel the challenge of being an attorney working in the tech sector--it's not always easy making your way in the boys' club. Good for Stephanie for being a strong woman and a Midwestern culinary superstar.
Izard's recipe in the August 2014 recipe is for Grilled Skirt Steak with Fruit-and-Green-Tomato Salsa.
Here's the link to the recipe: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/grilled-skirt-steak-with-fruit-and-green-tomato-salsa
The recipe calls for:
2 lbs. skirt steak
red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
Like the Piment d'Espelette of a few entries ago, I had to read up on some of these ingredients. Sambal oelek is a staple of Thai, Malaysian, and Indonesian cooking. It's chili pepper paste without seasonings like garlic. Read more here. Sorrel is a leafy herb used in cooking around the world. It is rich in Vitamin C and has an acidic, even bitter taste due to the oxalic acid content. According to Gourmet Sleuth, some spinach or arugula and lemon juice are an adequate substitute.
I went to three grocery stores and couldn't find the sambal oelek or sorrel, so I substituted Dynasty brand Thai Chili Garlic Paste for the sambal oelek, and arugula and lemon juice for the sorrel. Since I love arugula, I used this is an opportunity to turn the salsa into more of a salad. I used a handful instead of two tablespoons. This gave the meal more bulk without having to prep a separate side dish.
I could not find sambal oelek at Kroger or Marsh, so I substituted Dynasty brand Thai Chili Garlic Paste.
Next up, I had to substitute for the cherries. Cherries are in season in May, June, and July. I went to two Marsh stores, one Fresh Market, and one Kroger hoping they had some anyway. No dice. I called Trader Joe's and Fresh Thyme, they said they didn't have any. I even enlisted the help of the local police department to see if an officer friend had seen cherries anywhere! I ended up buying a can of cherries in water. I opened the can, and they were really mushy, so they couldn't work as a substitute. They were not firm enough to cut. I ended up substituting black grapes.
Of note, I also used some manzanilla olives I already had. These olives are firmer and milder than nicoise olives, but still brought a briny flavor. I'm not an olive snob. I love olives in all forms.
Unfortunately, by the time I had made all these substitutions, this preparation was more "inspired by" Izard's recipe than an actual test of it.
I started this recipe on Sunday afternoon. I chopped all the ingredients and stored them separately in cups since I knew I'd be home late on Monday (and Dallas would be on, so I didn't want to spend a long time prepping!) It took between 20 and 30 minutes to wash and chop all the ingredients, then mix the vinaigrette. I tasted the vinaigrette to see if the garlic would be noticeable--the sambal oelek would not have added garlic to the mix. I didn't notice the flavor of the garlic, but the vinaigrette was heavy on the soy sauce flavor. This ended up working out well--the salsa needed the salt. This is why Stephanie Izard is a chef and I'm a wannabe food blogger.
Since everything was chopped and the green onions had already been sauteed and cooled, all I had to do was hit the steak with a little salt and pepper. While it cooked, I mixed the vinaigrette and all the prepped ingredients. As mentioned above, instead of two tablespoons of sorrel/arugula, I used a handful to make more of a salad.
The fresh ingredients about to be combined to top the steak. In this moment, as I looked at the black grapes, plums, basil, green tomato, and a soy and pepper paste vinaigrette, I thought to myself that there was no way this would work together!
The steak was to medium-rare in about six minutes. I let it rest to get the thickest parts a little more done--one placed looked a little raw, which unfortunately caused the ends to go to medium. Select a piece of steak that it as uniform in thickness as possible to prevent this from happening.
The final product.
A closer look.
Admittedly, I was nervous when I presented the plate to my husband. I thought this was going to taste bizarre. Instead, it was surprisingly fantastic! The basil and the sweet notes from the grapes and plums really harmonized with the cilantro and spicy zing of the vinaigrette. This was so fresh and unlike anything else I'd tasted. The basil was the superstar ingredient for me since it enlivened the sweet plum and grape elements while melding with the spicy pepper for something exotic. I think he loves this dish more than he loves me. He was that impressed.
I realize that Izard's recipe would taste differently because of all the substitutions I made due to product availability, and wanting to use up manzanilla olives I already had. Nevertheless, I'd make this again just how I did it this time because it was so tasty. This was by far the best recipe I've tested from Bon Appetit and Food and Wine. It's also a steak recipe that won't leave you feeling weighed down. Instead, you'll feel revitalized by all the fresh ingredients.
You. Must. Make. This.