Monday, May 26, 2008

Number 100

I know that the blog has been a bit dormant lately. It's been a combination of a few things: some family stuff, some other personal things, and the usual time constraints. There's been the added wrinkle of massive amounts of stress, chaos and confusion at work as well, given that I'm still working in banking, which have sort of sucked away my creative energy. The situation with layoffs is as awful as it sounds in the press. New York is a company town in a lot of ways, and our industry drives lots of others as well, which makes it even more difficult when things start to turn downward.

The other thing I realized was that this is my #100 post! Wow. I'd wanted to do something spectacular, but it's a bit difficult to make fireworks come out of the computer when you load the page. So, I combined the holiday weekend, a bit of fiddling around with the blog layout and look (not as much as I would like to do, but I'm not at all a technogeek), and another recipe from the card file. This is for a flank steak marinade, the origins of which are uncertain.


The usual accompaniments for this meal when I was growing up were peas from a can (not Grandma's peas) and Uncle Ben's wild rice. The other key item at the table, which is vitally important in the creation of the distinct memory I have of eating this, was our cat, who, for some reason, liked peas. She liked steak, too, and often climbed up on the booth where we kids sat to eat our dinner in the kitchen every night to help herself brazenly to a chunk of the steak. We could also usually convince her to eat some of our peas. This was the best pet ever, and, sadly, she is no longer with us.*

Steak is generally considered to be a big treat, meal-wise, and never more so than in these more fiscally conservative times. I don't really buy that much meat in general. When I went to the counter to ask the butcher for some of the steak behind the glass (we do still have neighborhood butchers in New York City), I was told that I'd have to buy it by the piece. I braced myself for the numbers on the scale and walked away with a 1.5 pound hunk of flank steak that cost almost as much as a weekly unlimited Metrocard (a good point of reference for these kinds of things).

I'd tried making some recipe with this same piece of meat a few years ago and hadn't had much success. My first call, then, was to the best reference source I have: my mom. She told me a little trick of hers as well as instructed me to make sure I marinaded the meat for enough time to tenderize it. As I don't think I've ever tasted a botched version of this dish from her hands, I decided to listen to her.

As I sliced into the cooked meat, the aromas brought all of these memories flooding back to me. It really is amazing at the strong link that smells have with the timelines of our life. This recipe is definitely one that I would recommend for those barbecues that you might have lined up this summer, and you might even end up with leftovers enough for lunch during the week. The peas and rice are definitely optional; I ate it with a steamed artichoke.

*I don't think that my mother realized this about the cat, but she did know that my little brother shoved his peas down the part of the booth where the seat met the back.

Marinade for Flank Steak

Prep Time: 2-3 hours to marinade the meat plus 20-30 minutes cooking time
Serves: 2 pound steak would feed 4-5 adults

Ingredients: (for 2-3 pounds of meat)
3/4 c. dry red wine
1/2 c. soy sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
1/4 c. tomato ketchup
flank steak

Assembly:
Mix all ingredients together except the meat. Place the meat in a baking dish and cut slashes into each side of the meat, careful not to cut all the way through. [This is scoring the meat and is my mother's trick to allow the marinade to absorb better into the steak.] Pour the liquid over it. Place in refrigerator for 2-3 hours to marinate, turning from one side to the other about every 30 minutes or so.

Heat barbecue grill or broiler. Remove meat from baking dish and either place on the hot grill or in a grill pan, depending upon the method of cooking being used. You can test doneness with a meat thermometer or by guesswork. I generally use the latter. When cooked to your liking, remove from the heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Carve in the same direction as the scoring and serve.

Ahhh, a nice caramelization on the outside

And some lovely medium-done pieces on the inside

Buon appetito!

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