Wednesday, July 04, 2012

YES, another recipe.

But only because Kim asked me nicely on Twitter (THIS IS A POST IN PROGRESS. More to come...).

This is the star of the show. Most butcher shops don't cut their beef in the "Continental" fashion, so you have to buy a few subprimals (Bonus: they are REALLY cheap) and break them down your own bad self. The French call this, I believe, "paleron" and it comes from the chuck, in Spanish it's called the "baby churrasco." If you want to have fun but a chuck roast, seam it out and there, like a coealacanth swimming off Madagascar, you'll find this hiding in plain sight. Juicy, beefy, tender and deeply flavo(u)rful.

Beyond the particular recipes, I have a system for grilling. First you salt (or brine, in the case of pork/poultry) the items in question. Let them rest, say, 30 minutes until a "sheen" of juices begins to show on the surface and then I hit them with a given spice rub. Here's today's:

(This is all by volume, use teaspoons, cups, whatever.)

3 parts granulated garlic (make sure you use the granulated and not the powdered stuff; the coarser the granule, the better),
1 part EACH black pepper and red pepper flakes (I tend to like a bit of heat, so I used flakes instead of a seeded dry chile...I might experiment with a varietal such as cascabel)
2 parts each coriander seed, dill seed, yellow -- I s'pose you could try brown, or a mix -- mustard seed.

Put all in a spice mill and zap 3-4 pulses...you want a pretty good crack, but not a homogeneous powder. Think ¾ powder, ¼ cracked pieces...in my opinion you get better adhesion that way.

Hit the beef with the rub, wrap tight in cling wrap and let it rest as long as you patience will allow. Overnight is best, but even 2-3 hours will rock your world. (Make sure the last 90 minutes of this rest are at room temperature.

Before you grill, give the beef a light coating of oil (if you're realllllly hardcore, you'll use 50-50 oil and fresh tallow) to get the best possible sear and crust.

Now, traditionally, the churrasco variants come to the table with a trio of condiments. Depending on the nation in which you are offered this beefy deliciosity, the three condiments will likely vary. So, I am offering you one from each country. Chimichurri from Argentina, spicy pickled onion relish from Nicaragua and straight-up American steak sauce.

Chimichurri
1½ c combined flat leaf parsley and cilantro (coriander) leaves. I like a LOT of cilantro, so I usually omit the parsley entirely; you do whatever)
5 medium garlic cloves, mashed
¼ t  fresh ground black or white pepper
¼ c sherry, red or white wine vinegar
½ c extra virgin olive oil
water (to thin out the sauce to a drizzle-able consistency)
salt (to taste)
Put all the "dry" ingredients in a blender, turn it on and slowly add the vinegar and then VERY slowly add the oil. Add water in tiny amounts if the mixture is pasty. Season with salt to taste. If you intend to store this, adding a crushed Vit. C tablet will keep it bright, bright green for a long while.

Spicy Pickled Onion Relish
Quarter one large or two medium onions (sweet onions are ideal, and red onions will give a sensational colo(u)r, but will be much sharper in taste) and place in the jar of your blender (a food processor will also work). Add red pepper flakes to taste (this meant to be VERY spicy, so be mindful of that...I add TWO tablespoons) and enough plain white vinegar to come up halfway up the onions. Blitz until you have a barely chunky, runny relish-y mixture. Stash in the fridge until ready for service. The longer, the better.

American-ish Steak Sauce:
You will need to let the bourbon and spices infuse overnight. Again, I pulsed the spices in the coffee grinder spice mill a few times. You could, I guess, use a mortar and pestle.
½ c. CHEAP bourbon (use rum, vodka, etc.)
2 t crushed whole allspice
2 t crushed cinnamon stick
8 crushed whole cloves
½ c sherry vinegar
½ c soy sauce (doesn't have to be especially artisanal, just free of artificial ingredients)
1-2 tsp hot pepper sauce (I like classic Tabasco)
4-6 mashed garlic cloves
4 medium tomatoes, cored and cut up (if you have a food mill, this is ideal for these)
¼ c sugar (I prefer dark brown or "muscovado")
6 T sherry vinegar (yes, again)
½ c tamarind pulp, make sure it's lump-free and seedless. I suggest the Goya frozen stuff.

Put bourbon, allspice, cinnamon sticks and cloves in a measuring cup. cover loosely and leave at room temperature overnight (+/- 8 hours). Strain and set aside. Take ½ c. vinegar, soy sauce, hot pepper sauce, and garlic in a bowl. Process the tomatoes through a food mill (or a sieve or even a grater) to eliminate skins and seeds. Your goal is 1 cup of tomato pulp; set aside. Heat sugar and remaining vinegar over medium heat, until sugar dissolves and darkens to a caramel color, +/- 6-7 minutes. Add tomato and drop heat to medium-low and until the mixture is thick, +/- 4-5 minutes. If you want, remove the garlic from the soy sauce mixture, then add soy sauce (et al.) to the simmering pan, and bring to a boil. Add tamarind and bourbonized stuff, and simmer until slightly less thick than you like (+/- 10 minutes) because sauces like this will thicken up a good bit after cooling. Bottle this and stash in your refrigerator for up to two months, if it lasts that long.

But I digress.

One thing I'm doing these days, grillingwise is the "reverse sear." This means you cook the beef low-and-slow to your desired doneness, and then you let it rest and THEN you sear off the outside to get that crazy crust. Why? Because there are enzymes which tenderize beef at work here, and they do that voodoo only in the +/-100F to +/-110F zone, so you want your beef to spend as much time at this range as possible. Thus the low and slow. As a bonus, if you do this over real charcoal, you pick up the right levels of smoky taste. And here is one such beast, grilled -- perfectly, to medium rare, TYVM -- and carved. Kindly note the glorious medium-rareness extends throughout the whole cross-section, with none of that overdone, grey layer underneath the crust.

...for purely photographic reasons, I sauced my beef with the Argentine-style, cilantro-heavy, chimichurri steak sauce.

Posted by JMG at 12:02 PM

2 Comments

  • Blogger Poppy Buxom posted at 11:40 PM, July 04, 2012  
    I want to make that rub by the gallon, using empty milk containers.

    Is that wrong?

    It sounds really good.
  • Blogger JMG posted at 9:13 AM, July 05, 2012  
    I make it in "Mason jar" sizes and then, using the two piece lids, replace the inner part of the lid (the disc-y bit) with some mesh, and use as a shaker.

    What is REALLY cool is how ridiculously aromatic it is.
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