The New Steak
Recipes for a Range of Cuts plus Savory Sides
by Cree LeFavour
Cree LaFavour loves steak, and it's not because she's on a low carb kick or a crusade for meat. This self-confessed "restaurant brat" (her father is Bruce LeFavour of the acclaimed Paragon in Aspen and Rose et LeFavour in Napa Valley) simply loves the taste. She's also highly aware of how complicated eating steak has become in recent years, with commercialized beef production and the disappearance of small neighborhood butchers. It's increasingly hard to make decisions about whether to buy local, organic, or grass-fed beef. In The New Steak, LaFavour explores these choices and offers wisdom on the steak-selecting process, with tips on telling your rib eye from your T-bone and your Wagyu from your Kobe. Ultimately, LaFavour is a champion of steaks that come from "cows that have lived a cow's life" and a cheerleader for overlooked but versatile cuts like skirt, flat iron, hangar, and flank steaks.
The recipes are presented the way she sees a plate: as a complete entity, with side dishes right along with the steak recipes. Each section of the book—American Steak, Bistro Steak, Latin Steak, and Far East Steak—emphasizes different core ingredients. The American section takes advantage of local farmers market produce for combinations, like the Skirt Steak with Hot Pepper and Pickled Red Onions alongside Summer Succotash and Watermelon-Goat Cheese Salad. You'll find classic steakhouse preparations in the Bistro section, like the Porterhouse with Herb Butter, Slow Roasted Garlic, and Creamed Spinach. The Latin section spices things up with selections like the Chipotle-Rubbed Rib Eye with Warm Lime-Cilantro Butter, Spanish Rice, and Radish-Queso Fresco Salad. From the Far East, there are exotic offerings like Lemongrass Flank Steak with Broccoli, Snowpeas, and Lotus Root. Ultimately, the book is a meditation on steak's versatility, with over 50 ways to have your steak and eat it, too.
Skirt Steak Straight Up: Hot Pepper and
Pickled Red Onions
2 pounds skirt steak
1 to 2 tablespoons red pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Olive oil for rubbing
1 to 2 tablespoons peanut oil for pan-frying
1 large red onion
1/3 cup water
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1 tablespoon whole coriander
2 tablespoons olive oil
Prepare the steaks by sprinkling on the red pepper flakes and then generously salting them. Let them come to room temperature, then rub with olive oil just before cooking.
For the pickled onions, peel and then slice the onion as thin as possible—what you want are nice, big, translucent circles. Use a freshly sharpened knife. Put the sliced onions in a bowl.
Combine the water, vinegar, and sugar in a pot over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and pour over the raw onions. Next, using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, crush the coriander and add it, along with the olive oil, to the onions.
Let the onions cool, and drain just before using. (Reserve the liquid; you'll want to keep any leftover onions in it to use on a cold steak sandwich the next day.)
To grill, your coals should be so hot that you can comfortably keep your hand 2 inches above the grate for 3 seconds—just! (For gas grills, this means 450° F.) Put the oiled steaks on the hottest part of the grill and sear for 3 minutes on each side over high heat. If the fire is truly hot, the steak should be cooked. If not, cook for another 2 to 5 minutes over lower heat—skirt steak should always be rare! To pan-fry, heat the peanut oil in a heavy pan until it's very hot—almost smoking. Sear the steaks for 3 minutes on each side over high heat. Skirt steak cooks fast—the meat should be done. If it needs a bit more time, cook for at most 2 to 5 minutes more, turning often as the steaks brown.
However you cook your steaks, check for doneness often, using the finger-poke or the nick-and-peek method. After cooking, rest the steaks in a warming oven (170° F) or on a warm plate under a loose tent of foil for 5 minutes. Before serving, give them a final pinch of salt.
To serve, slice the meat the long way against the grain (cutting up and down the meat's length, not across it), creating long, thin slices. Put a few rounds of onion on top of the meat on each plate and then put any that are left in a white bowl on the table.
Reviewed by Rachel Levin
(Updated: 08/26/10 CT)