Archive | March 2012

Meat and Potatoes

Saturday night we had a dinner like grandma used to make – flank steak and potatoes.  Except this flank steak was from our Marin Sun Farms meat CSA, the potatoes were from our Farm Fresh to You vegetable CSA, and I threw in some CSA fennel with the potatoes for good measure.  So maybe the meal really was like grandma used to make – or like great-grandma used to make.  Everything came from the local farm.

I’ve really been in touch with eating local in the last week or two.  Sometimes the more life speeds up the more it slows down.  Every hour is a new challenge caring for a newborn.  But at the same time, the past two weeks have been a special chance to focus on what really matters.  Life is stripped down to its core: eating, pooping, and caring for family.  With so much time spent around the house we’ve done a great job preparing meals from our CSAs and our garden.  The food tastes better when you slow down to think about where it comes from.

Grilling is still a bit of a challenge.  Maybe someday I’ll grill with the little guy riding on my back.  But not yet.  Too soon.  Luckily we had help this week.  Mrs. Esquire’s mom flew in to give us a helping hand.

The extra set of hands freed me up to tackle the 2.5 pound flank steak from Marin Sun Farms.  I have to confess, I was a little bit confused by the football-shaped “flank steak” that showed up in my CSA box.  I thought I knew what flank steak looked like . . . and this wasn’t it.  Having never prepared flank steak before, I figured I was just mistaken.  I found a marinade recipe on the Big Green Egg forum (modified version outlined below).  After a partial thaw I threw the hunk in a ziplock bag with the marinade.

When I was ready to grill I pulled the flank steak out of the refrigerator and removed it from the bag.  Ahhhh – now the flank steak looked familiar!  It unrolled into this ginormously beautiful hunk of meat.

Yes, it’s basically the size of a cookie sheet.

But the meat is only half the equation.  I also prepared some potatoes and chopped fennel in my redware.

I seasoned the potatoes and fennel with sea salt, cracked pepper, garlic salt and onion powder.  Right before grilling I doused them in olive oil.  I grilled them for about 30 minutes at 40o degrees.  They were delicious.

After I pulled the potatoes I threw on the flank steak.  As a side note, I was grilling in the pouring rain.  Always a challenge but not insurmountable!  I grilled the steak for about 8 minutes total: two minutes then flip, repeat four times.

I was a little worried about a steak and potatoes meal since my dining companions weren’t necessarily steak and potato people.  But I must say, the dinner was quite well received.  The marinade was scrumptious.  The fennel added a unique and delicious flavor to the potatoes.  The varying thickness of the flank steak made it perfect my diverse audience.  The cuts in the picture above are from the thin portion (for the ladies).  The thick end was a beautiful medium rare (for me!).

I also have to thank both CSAs for the creativity they inspire.  I’ve never bought flank steak in my life.  I never would choose fennel and baby potatoes at the grocery store.  But I created a beautiful meal by using the foods as they came to me from the farm.  Just like great-grandma would have done.

Recipe Recap – Flank Steak Marinade

  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • four cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

Mix ingredients together.  Marinate 1.5-2.5 pound flank steak in the refrigerator for 8+ hours.  Heat remaining marinade on stove top to pour over prepared flank steak.

Pork Chops Part Deux

Well, the little guy joined us last week!  Mrs. Esquire and I are very happy to be parents.  Here’s hoping I’m able to keep going with this blog through the sleepless nights.

Today I want to write about pork chops.  I have to remind myself again that the point of this blog is to learn and grow with my Big Green Egg.  So, despite my previous post called Pork Chop Perfection, I’ve decided to change my strategy on pork chops.

I used to sear the pork chops on the cast iron grill then move them over to the half-moon stone to finish up.  The goal was to allow them to cook long enough without too much direct flame.

The process worked pretty well – most of the time.  About half the time, however, I ended up with dry chops.  Some of my issues probably resulted from overcooking.  But with such a low success rate I decided it was time to explore other options.

Last Saturday was my first cook as a dad.  I removed some nice thick CSA chops (no goat this month) from the freezer.  The new strategy was to grill them direct at a little lower temperature.

As an interesting side note and challenge, it was incredibly windy Saturday night.  I had to clamp everything down pretty tight to keep the temperature at about 350-375.  The wind forcing its way through the small openings stirred up quite a bit of smoke – a neat effect at a high temperature. The smoke added some nice flavor.

I cooked these pork chops for about 15 minutes at 350-375.  They turned out much better than my previous chops (also from the CSA, grilled only a week or two before).  Moist and delicious.

So there you have it.  I’ve officially refined my technique.