So, tell me, how do you feel about steak, prepped and grilled in less than 20 minutes, with a deeply flavored, seared crust and juicy, pink middle? Pretty good? Yeah, me too. That's why I'm so darn happy to have found this fairly foolproof recipe from Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby's The Big-Flavor Grill. They rub skirt steak—a flavorful cut all by itself—with olive oil and a mixture of cumin, paprika, coriander, salt and pepper. After a brief shift over a hot grill, the steaks are slightly charred and expertly seasoned.
The steak alone is worth the price of admission, and that's just their Super-Basic recipe. Here, they pair it with their Texas BBQ take on panzanella, which is no wall-flower of a side. In fact, I was skeptical as I put it together, afraid it would be inedibly garlicky and spicy. Powerful as it was, however, the sweet sharpness of the barbecue sauce and balsamic and the freshness of the parsley kept the garlic and red pepper flakes from going too far, and I kept going back for more.
Why I picked this recipe: The skirt steak is their only Super-Basic recipe with a spice rub, and I was curious about its versatility.
What worked: The steak by itself was the big winner of the cookout. The rub was delicious but not overwhelming; I can see how it would work with a range of sauces and sides, especially those with a Latin-American, Indian, or Middle Eastern bent.
What didn't: I loved the bread salad, but it was too intense for some. (It is coming from a book stressing 'Big Flavor,' so you have to know what you're signing up for.) I also found that the chunks of baguette got soggy quickly.
Suggested tweaks: If you want to dial back the intensity of the bread salad, start with half the amounts of garlic and red pepper flakes, and go from there. Instead of toasting the baguette and then cutting it, I suggest cutting it as directed, tossing it with a couple tablespoons of the olive oil, and then toasting it (at 375° for 10 minutes or so).
Reprinted with permission from The Big-Flavor Grill, by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby, copyright 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House LLC.
- Yield:Serves 4 to 6
- Active time: 35 minutes
- Total time:55 minutes
- For the Salad
- 1 baguette, lightly toasted and cut lengthwise into medium dice (about 6 cups, but no need to be precise about it)
- 1/2 cup your favorite barbecue sauce
- 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped garlic
- 3 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes
- 1 cup roughly chopped parsley
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- For the Steak
- 21/2 pounds skirt steak, cut into 4 to 6 pieces
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon coriander
- 2 tablespoons freshly cracked black pepper
- Kosher salt to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Build a two-level fire in your grill, which means you put all the coals on one side of the grill and leave the other side free of coals. When the flames have died down, all the coals are covered with gray ash, and the temperature is hot (you can hold your hand 6 inches above the grill for only 2 to 3 seconds), you’re ready to cook.
PREP: While the fire heats up, combine [the salad ingredients] in a large bowl and toss well.
GRILL: In a small bowl, combine the spices and salt to taste and mix well. Rub the steaks all over with the oil and then with the rub, pressing gently to be sure it adheres.
Put the steaks on the grill directly over the coals, and cook until done to your liking, about 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium rare. to check for doneness, cut into the thickest steak and peek to see if the meat is slightly less done than you want it to be when you eat it.
Transfer the steaks to a cutting board, tent them loosely with foil, and let them rest for 5 minutes or so.
TOSS: When the steaks come off the grill and have rested, slice them on the bias against the grain. Pour the juice into the bread salad, then put the bread salad onto a platter or individual plates and top with the sliced steak.