Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Fresh and Frugal: Skirt Steak with Chimichurri
My parents were in town last week, and I wanted to treat them to some great food! During my regular market trip, I stopped by the Mint Creek Farm stall to check out their selection and prices. I had ribeye on the brain, but at $29/pound, it was outside my price range for four people on a regular weeknight. Sustainably-raised beef is pricey. So how can a steak-lover answer a craving without bombing their budget? Two ways: choose a cheaper cut, and shrink portion sizes. Scanning the list, I decided on just under a pound of skirt steak.
What's wrong with cheap meat? First of all, meat can be bought so cheaply at your local supermarket because of how it's raised: in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Animals are packed very tightly into these facilities, with barely any room to move, and are fed a diet of mostly grain. These conditions lead the animals to a much higher-than-normal susceptibility to disease and infection, and so farmers routinely mix antibiotics into their feed. Aside from the fact that this is a sad life for animals, these practices are also detrimental both to the environment and to the nutritional quality of the meat. For a deeper look into these issues, I highly recommend In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma, both by Michael Pollan, and Food Matters, by Mark Bittman.
Tips for successfully serving smaller portions:
Don't overcook. Always important, but especially so with grass-fed meats, which are leaner and slightly tougher than their conventionally raised counterparts.
Season well. With salt and pepper, of course, but also with herbs, spices, butter, or sauces. Depending on the cut and preparation, adding something extra can really highlight the unique deliciousness of the meat.
Serve great sides, and lots of 'em. Nothing would be worse than getting to the end of your meal and worrying that your guests are still hungry!
I used this recipe for chimichurri from the new Bon Appetit Grilling Book (which would be a GREAT Father's Day gift if you don't already have one!), and since we are without a grill, I arranged the steak on a rack set on a baking sheet, sprinkled it with salt and pepper, and broiled it on high for 2 minutes on each side. It was perfect.