Monday, January 05, 2009

Marinated flank steak with herb pesto and balsamic caramelized onions

Happy New Year! The holidays are now behind me and I’m back at work, feeling the post-vacation blues. Sorry I haven’t blogged in awhile but the past two weeks were a whirlwind of family, friends, many glasses of champagne (I’m actually taking a break from the bubbly as I think I may have just consumed too much of it!) and quite a few too many dinners out. As with 95% of the population, I feel the need to renew, refresh and eat most of my meals at home for the next few weeks. Also, apologies as always for the dark, blurry photos. I think "take better photos" is on my list of resolutions for '09. Let's just hope it's possible.

Speaking of meals at home…’s one I made a little while back. It’s kind of a compilation of “greatest hits” and I just happened to have everything on hand to make all of the dishes. I think it was one of those nights where we contemplated going out…….wanting to eat restaurant-style food, but wanting to stay in our flannel PJ pants and soft hoodies while watching television. So I put two and two together and made a restaurant-style meal that could be eaten on the sofa, flannels and all!

First up, a hunk of our beloved Humboldt Fog goat cheese, served with some amazing Croatian fig jam I found at Whole Foods. Spread both on a slice of baguette, open mouth, eat, smile!

Tomato salad, the result of having more tomatoes than salad greens, ha. Tossed with a little homemade balsamic dressing and topped with lots of black pepper, which I love on tomatoes.

Cilantro-garlic shrimp: my sister made something like this awhile back and I’ve been copying it ever since. There’s no real recipe, and I use any combination of basil, mint and cilantro depending on what I have, then buzz it in a food processor with lots of fresh garlic, a touch of red wine vinegar, olive oil and salt/pepper to make a pesto. Put the pesto in a plastic bag with the shrimp, let it marinate and then bake it in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes.

Here’s what may possibly be my favorite way to eat steak- a skirt or flank steak, marinated in above mentioned cilantro/mint/basil pesto then grilled or seared in a pan, topped with loads of caramelized onions and served with extra pesto and cubes of either sweet potatoes of butternut squash. You get the beefy flavor from the steak, garlicy freshness from the pesto and the sweetness from the onions and butternut squash. The combination of flavors and textures is just absolute perfection and goes quite well with a nice, dry red.

Marinated flank steak with herb pesto and balsamic caramelized onions

2 TBS olive oil
2 large sweet onions, sliced into ¼ inch thick half rounds (if you can’t find sweet specifically, use yellow onions)
1 TBS brown sugar, packed
2 TBS balsamic vinegar

1.5- 2 pound flank steak (or skirt steak)
1 cup tightly packed cilantro
½ cup tightly packed basil (you can substitute mint if you like)
2 cloves garlic
3 TBS red wine vinegar
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

Put flank steak in a large Ziploc bag or non-reactive (glass) pie plate. Combine cilantro through red wine vinegar in a food processor; pulse to combine. Keeping the food processor on, slowly pour in the olive oil until the mixture is very well combined- you should be able to drizzle it onto something with a spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Save ¼ cup and set aside; pour the rest into the Ziploc bag with the steak and make sure the meat is well coated. Seal and put in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour but as long as overnight.

Before preparing the onions, take the steak out of the refrigerator so it can come to room temperature.

Heat the olive oil on medium-low heat in a large sauté pan and add onions. After a minute or so, add the brown sugar. Slowly sauté the onions until they are brown and caramelized, about 20-25 minutes, keeping the heat relatively low as to not burn them. Add the balsamic vinegar, stir to combine and take off the heat. Set aside.

Take the steak out of the Ziploc bag, brushing off excess marinade. Season both sides of the meat with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tsp of olive oil in a grill or large sauté pan until almost smoking and add the steak, letting one side sear about 5 minutes, then flip and let the other side sear for about 3 ½ for medium rare. Put the meat on a cutting board, tent with foil and let it rest for five minutes.

Cut the steak against the grain into ½ inch thick slices, drizzle pesto over it and top with the caramelized onions.

Serve with cubed, roasted butternut squash or sliced, baked sweet potatoes. Enjoy!

PS- the leftovers make a KILLER sandwich the next day……slightly toasted bread, slathered with Dijon mustard, some pesto, sliced steak, a mound of the caramelized onions, arugula…..oh yeah baby! You could even add a slice of swiss……..ok, now getting too hungry…………..!


Heather said...

I'd eat the shit outta those leftovers. The shrimp would be a great po'boy. The tomato salad would be a nice sammich, too. Here's to post-holiday dieting!

Marie said...

That cilantro-garlic shrimp looks so zesty and flavorful! I really need to get a food processor asap.

Diana said...

Those shrimp look amazing! I'm going to need to try that! :)

Aaron said...

For a more interesting presentation for the flank steak, try spreading more pesto over a steak that has rested after being grilled. then, roll the steak lenghtwise like a sushi roll, or pinwheel, and slice an inch or so thick.