The next time you're going to throw some steaks on the grill, take them out of the refrigerator to give them time to shake off the chill before cooking. "Tempering" the meat allows it to cook more evenly, so the inside can actually cook as the outside works up a nice char. Place your steaks or other meats in a cool, safe spot indoors to take off the chill, 20 or so minutes for thin cuts and longer if you're cooking something big.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a steak more massive than this porterhouse. Famous Italian butcher Dario Cecchini calls for leaving his Bistecca fiorentina, or, Tuscan steak (a whopping 2 1/2 pounds and 2 inches thick) out five to six hours before grilling. Sure, you do have to remember to remove it from the fridge ahead of time, but properly tempered, this beauty -- a magnificent sight to behold on the grill -- cooks up in roughly 30 minutes.
For something a little less, well, large, consider flank steaks with fresh chimichurri sauce. The sauce -- a little garlic, red wine vinegar, oil, fresh herbs and a touch of lemon juice -- comes together in almost no time, and those steaks will grill up in minutes.
For a refreshing -- and quick -- answer to dinner tonight, try this steak carpaccio recipe from Travis Lett of Gjelina. Sear a good piece of seasoned skirt steak, then slice into thin strips. Pound the strips so they're nice and thin, and serve with a simple salad of shaved asparagus and fresh beans dressed with a little lemon juice and olive oil, and a sprinkling of sea salt and pepper. You can make it in about 40 minutes.
You can find all of the recipes below.
Bistecca Fiorentina (Tuscan steak)
Total time: 35 minutes, plus 5 to 6 hours for the steak to reach room temperature Servings: 3 to 4
Note: Allow the steak to sit out in a cool place, loosely covered, for 5 to 6 hours to come to room temperature. You can order this especially thick cut of steak in advance from any fine meat counter or butcher, such as Guss Meat Co., 949 S. Ogden Drive, Los Angeles, (323) 937-4622.
1 (2-inch-thick) porterhouse steak (about 2 1/2 pounds), cut from the small end of the loin, at room temperature
1 teaspoon best-quality olive oil, plus additional for oiling the rack
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat a grill over medium-high heat. (It will be hot enough when you can hold your hand an inch over the grill for only 5 to 6 seconds.) Lightly oil the grill, and place the steak on the grill. Grill the steak for 5 minutes, then flip over and grill the other side 5 more minutes.
2. Carefully place the steak vertically on the grill, so it is resting on the flat part of the T-bone. Continue to cook, allowing the heat to transmit through the bone to the meat. Cook an additional 15 to 25 minutes (this will depend on the heat of your grill) until a thermometer inserted reads 125 degrees for medium-rare. Remove the steak from the grill to a plate and allow it to rest for 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Lightly season the steak with the salt and a couple grinds of pepper, then drizzle the olive oil over it. Slice the steak away from the bone, and then crosswise into strips. Serve immediately.
Each of 4 servings: 321 calories; 38 grams protein; 0 carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 18 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 91 mg. cholesterol; 246 mg. sodium.
GRILLED FLANK STEAKS WITH CHIMICHURRI SAUCE
Total time: 25 minutes
Note: Set the steak out about an hour before grilling to allow it to come to room temperature.
2 cloves garlic
1 cup coarsely chopped parsley, firmly packed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup olive oil
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
With the food processor running, drop the garlic through the food tube to chop. Add the parsley, oregano and fresh mint and pulse several times to mince. Add the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and salt and pulse a few times to achieve a coarse puree. Taste and add more lemon juice or salt as needed. (The recipe can be prepared to this point 2 hours in advance and held at room temperature.)
Grilled flank steak
1 (1 1/2 - to 2-pound) flank steak
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Pat the flank steak dry on both sides with paper towel. Season each side with a generous one-fourth teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper.
2. Just before cooking, brush each side with about 1 tablespoon chimichurri sauce. Grill over a hot fire, cooking about 1 minute on each side, then turning the steak 90 degrees and cooking the same side an additional minute before flipping the steak over to give each side nice grill marks. Repeat with the other side, cooking the steak a total of 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Rest the steak 5 minutes before slicing. Cut across the grain and on a deep bias, in wide, thin slices. Serve, passing remaining chimichurri sauce on the side.
Each serving: 353 calories; 28 grams protein; 1 gram carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 26 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 56 mg. cholesterol; 636 mg. sodium.
Skirt steak carpaccio with raw aparagus and fava salad
Total time: 40 minutes
Note: Adapted from Travis Lett of Gjelina. Buy the skirt steak from a quality purveyor, as this steak will be served still raw in the center. Lett suggests Niman Ranch skirt steak and asparagus from Life's a Choke Farms.
1 cup fava beans, shucked and peeled (from about 1 pound whole beans)
1 (8-ounce) piece skirt steak
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
4 spears asparagus
Fresh lemon juice
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
1. In a pot of boiling water, blanch the fava beans until brightly colored but still almost raw, less than 1 minute. Shock in a bowl of ice water and set aside.
2. Lightly season the skirt steak with one-half teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper, and lightly drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot, about 5 minutes. Place the steak in the hot pan to get a nice, dark sear on the surface, 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. Be careful not to cook the steak; it should remain raw inside. Slice the steak across the grain into one-half-ounce pieces (about 16 slices).
3. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on a work surface and lightly oil. Place the sliced meat on top and cover with another sheet of plastic, leaving some space between slices so that there is room for each slice to spread when you pound it. Using a meat mallet or the back of a flat sauté pan, gently pound the meat until it is thin (but not so thin it might tear when handled). Place a few slices on each of four plates.
4. Trim the tough ends off of the asparagus spears and slice off the very tips; discard the tough ends and save the tips. On a flat surface, shave the raw asparagus into thin lengthwise strips (it will look like strips of pasta) using a vegetable peeler. Place the shaved asparagus and tips into a medium bowl and add the fava beans. Drizzle over 2 teaspoons each lemon juice and olive oil, and season with one-fourth teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Taste and adjust the lemon juice and seasonings as desired. The salad should be bright and fresh, without being too acidic or oily.
5. Lightly season the carpaccio with flaky sea salt and cracked pepper and top with the asparagus salad. Thinly shave the Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top and serve.
Each serving: 168 calories; 14 grams protein; 4 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 11 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 37 mg cholesterol; 2 grams sugar; 488 mg sodium.