Monday, February 12, 2018

Pan-seared Sirloin with Chimichurri

I don’t know if it’s the cold weather or an iron deficiency trying to communicate with me, but I’ve recently found myself intensely craving steak. Not to mention that I’ve finally learned how to cook it exactly how I order at a restaurant (medium rare), and it didn't involve setting off the smoke alarm (let’s hope that was a one time occurrence) or a 2-day bout of food poisoning from undercooking. My vegetarian-leaning self has finally learned how to flawlessly prepare bovine meat, and now, I can’t get enough; specifically, this Pan-seared Sirloin with Chimichurri

I’ve shied away from learning how to cook steak in the past—as if because I rarely ate it I wasn’t worthy of knowing how to prepare it—assuming I was inherently set up to fail. Previously, I’d nervously overcook a piece of meat, making sure I paired it with a flavorful sauce to cover up any of my missteps. Only with a little bit of research did I figure out a few essentials for proper steak cooking. How simple the basic principles are!

1. Temperature matters. Bringing steak to room temperature an hour before cooking ensures optimal heat penetration to the middle.
2. Seasoning matters. A generous rub of salt, pepper, and olive oil will suffice.
3. Flipping matters. Turning the steak every minute promotes an even sear.
4. Resting matters the most. Letting the steak sit for five minutes, plus half the cook-time, lets it finish cooking properly after being removed from the heat.

The last step is arguably the most important because there’s nothing more disappointing than an overcooked slab of beef. Trust me on this one—the steak needs to sit to finish cooking through.

Adding to this enthusiasm was my discovery of Piedmontese heritage beef at the Union Square Greenmarket, produced by Stony Mountain Ranch (full market schedule here). Although Stony Mountain Ranch’s cattle is raised in Pennsylvania, the breed is originally from the Piedmont region of Italy, known for having the best beef in the country due to its supreme succulence and super lean disposition. This desirable combination is a result of the cows’ genetics: Piedmontese cattle naturally carry a unique gene that reduces fat yet improves tenderness. And while the beef is genetically lower in total fat than other breeds, it also has the highest percentage of good polyunsaturated fats within that total fat. Think omega-3s like DPA and DHA. On top of that, its exclusively grass-fed. If looking for a healthy breed, you’ve found your guy.

The quick and easy chimichurri sauce hails for Gjelina, one of my favorite cookbooks for condiments and vegetables. For me, it’s essential for a chimichurri to have the right oil to vinegar ratio—not too slick, not too tart—and this one delivers exceptionally, dotted with spices that accent the grassiness of the herbs.

Pan-seared Sirloin with Chimichurri
Makes 1 ½ cup chimichurri

Grass-fed, tender cut of steak (i.e. rib-eye, tenderloin, porterhouse, T-bone, skirt steak, top sirloin, filet mignon. Budget 6 ounces, or a little more than 1/3 lb, per person)

1 bunch fresh cilantro, stemmed and chopped
½ bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, stemmed and chopped
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ shallot, minced
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil (can use less if desired)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground lack pepper
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar


1. Make the chimichurri. In a medium bowl, combine the cilantro, parsley, oregano, paprika, shallot, and olive oil and stir. Allow to stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Just before serving, add red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Make the steak. Heat a hot cast iron pan with oil, and follow the 4 steps above! A medium rare steak should cook for 6 minutes (flipping every minute), and rest for 8 minutes before serving.

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