Treating Dad to steak on the grill for Father's Day practically guarantees you'll get a happy pappy. But this year, faced with sticker shock at the meat counter, we decided to economize. Don't tell Dad, but that amazing steak sizzling out on the barbie didn't cost a fortune.
Steep prices are challenging everyone who craves beef, and meat packers are responding by offering several newer cuts designed to be more economical. This can be a bit confusing at the supermarket, since the names of these cuts are unfamiliar and may vary by region. For example, the new "shoulder-cut petit tender steak" looks similar to tenderloin, only smaller. You're also likely to find new cuts of the flavorful flat-iron steak, only with its tough connective tissue removed. Again, they're smaller.
If you're unfamiliar with a cheaper cut of steak, you can always check the cooking method on the package label to see whether grilling is recommended. We've followed this guidance with many of the new cuts with good results. For today's recipe, we bought a widely available cut, boneless top sirloin, for $4 a pound on sale, marinated it to tender perfection with olive oil, garlic, cilantro and lime, and served it sliced.
The idea for the marinade comes from the chimichurri sauces commonly served in Nicaraguan and Argentinean steak houses. After swirling in a food processor, the fresh ingredients act both as a tenderizing marinade and an amazing sauce for the grilled meat. Traditional chimichurri sauce uses parsley and lemon, and our twist offers bright flavors that veer a bit from the norm.Today's Cilantro Chimichurri will work with any economical cut you choose. We're betting Dad will be thrilled.
Menu suggestion: Grilled Steak with Cilantro Chimichurri
GRILLED STEAK WITH CILANTRO CHIMICHURRI
Start to finish: 8 minutes preparation, 4 to 24 hours marinating time and about 15 minutes grilling time
3 large cloves garlic
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, loosely packed
Juice from 1 1/2 limes (about 3 tablespoons to 1/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Cook's note: Any cut of steak labeled "suitable for grilling" will work for this recipe. Allow at least 4 to 6 ounces per person. For testing, we used a 1-inch-thick boneless top sirloin. The marinade/sauce also works well for chicken, pork or even lamb.
Peel the garlic and drop the cloves through the feed tube of a food processor with the motor running. Mince finely.
Rinse and dry the cilantro. Remove the leaves from the tough bottom stems, but you can use the tender upper stems to make 1 cup loosely packed. Place the cilantro in the food processor and pulse the motor to mince finely. Scrape down the sides as needed. Add the lime juice, salt, pepper and oil. Pulse the motor two to three times just to stir the mixture. Remove 1/4 cup of the mixture into a sealed jar or other airtight container and refrigerate until ready to serve. (This will be the cilantro chimichurri sauce for serving.)
Place the steak into a gallon-size zipper-top plastic bag. Pour the remaining marinade mixture into the bag, seal it and turn the bag until the steak is well covered. Lay the steak flat in the refrigerator, and marinate for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. If possible, turn the bag over halfway through the marinating.
To cook the steak, preheat a gas grill to medium-high. Remove the steak from the bag, leaving on any marinade that clings to the meat. Discard the remaining marinade. Place the steak on the grill. (Be prepared for the oil to cause the grill to flame up briefly.) Close the grill lid. Cook the steak to personal preference, turning the meat halfway through grilling. (For a steak that's 1-inch thick, grill about 7 to 8 minutes per side for medium rare.)
To serve, remove the Cilantro Chimichurri from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature. Stir to remix the sauce. Cut the steak into portions or slices if desired. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon of the cilantro chimichurri. Yield: 4 servings.Approximate values per 4-ounce serving: 345 calories (73 percent from fat), 28 g fat (7 g saturated), 102 mg cholesterol, 22 g protein, 1 g carbohydrates, trace amount dietary fiber, 190 mg sodium.
Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross are co-authors of "Desperation Dinners!" (Workman, 1997), "Desperation Entertaining!" (Workman, 2002) and "Cheap.Fast.Good!" (Workman, 2006). Contact them at Desperation Dinners, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016. Or visit the Desperation Dinners Web site at www.desperationdinners.com. © United Feature Syndicate Inc.