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Thursday
Oct112012

Skirt Steak with Hazelnut Romesco

*Post by Angela.

Loyal readers of this blog may be asking themselves if I've forgotten how to cook over the last couple of months. The answer is yes, yes, I have. Or at least, I might as well have. Long work hours, a busy social calendar, hot weather and pure laziness made it difficult to prepare any sort of bloggable meal. But now that things have slowed down just a tad, and the cooler fall weather is making it feel like a pleasure instead of a punishment to have the oven and stove on, I'm trying to make an effort to get myself back in the kitchen. First up was a combination of these relatively easy skirt steak with hazelnut romesco recipes I found on Tasting Table and in the October issue of Bon Appetit.

 

 

Ingredients:
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 medium red bell peppers
  • About 1 1/2 cups of olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 head garlic
  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup hazelnuts
  • 1 cup cubed day-old bread
  • Red wine vinegar
  • 2 lbs skirt steak
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Romesco (a Catalonian nut and red pepper based sauce) is simple and straightforward, but it does require a little bit of extra time. Luckily for me, I have a willing and able assistant. Before I got home, Mark sliced the stems off the peppers and deseeded them, chopped the top off the head of garlic, quartered the tomatoes, and put everything on a baking sheet. He preheated the oven to 300 degrees, then drizzled everything with 2-3 tbsp of olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. He wrapped the garlic in foil, then shoved the whole mess in the oven for about an hour (the skin on the peppers should be mostly blistered and blackened). Once I got home, I took over. I put the peppers into a bowl, covered them with foil for about 10 minutes, then peeled the skins off and gave the peppers a rough chop along with the tomatoes. I also popped the garlic cloves, now nice and soft and delicious, out of their papery skins.  


 

Next, I toasted the almonds and hazelnuts over medium low heat in a saucepan with just a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt for about 10 minutes. Once they were toasty, I gave them a rough chop and set them aside.

 

 

The last element of the sauce was the bread, which I just tossed with a bit of olive oil and toasted for about 5-8 minutes over medium heat. 

 

 

Here's the fun/tricky part - making it taste right. I put the peppers, garlic, tomatoes, nuts, and bread in the blender, turned it on, and slowly drizzled in about 3/4 cup of olive oil. Once well combined, I turned off the blender (important step!!!!) tasted the sauce, and added in a splash or two of red wine vinegar and a little salt and pepper, and blended again. To loosen up the sauce a little, I added about 1/4 cup of water. I kept repeating this process (blend, add vinegar and seasoning, add water), until I had a sauce that was just barely thinned enough to drizzle, with enough acidity to make it tangy. I think in total I added about 1 cup of water and probably 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar.

 

 

Somewhere in the middle of all this, I mixed together 1 tbsp of kosher salt, 1 tbsp of sugar, 2 tsp of toasted ground fennel seed, 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper, 1 tsp of cayenne, and 1 tsp of garlic powder. It smelled heavenly as I rubbed it all over the skirt steak. I let the steak sit for about 10 minutes before I cooked it.

 

 

I heated a couple of tbsp of olive oil in my cast iron skillet over medium high heat, then quickly pan-seared the steak, 2-3 minutes per side for a perfect medium rare. I let the steak sit for about 5 minutes, then sliced it against the grain and served it with the romesco drizzled over top.

 

 

Romesco is new to me, but I really enjoyed the nuttiness and thickness of it. And I've never cooked skirt steak at home before, but given how quick and easy it is to cook and how flavorful, I think it's going to be popping up again and again. The sauce and steak also tasted great as leftovers in a sandwich the following day, or so Mark tells me. In any event, I'm just happy to be back in the kitchen relearing my cooking skills.

 

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