Cinco de Mayo

I was supposed to go out last night.  But after this amazing meal, all I wanted to do was snuggle up on the couch and watch another episode of Game of Thrones.

What Annie Cooked:

Spice Rubbed Flat Iron Steak

Grilled Sweet Potato Quarters

Green Salad

Chimichurri Marinade

Step #1 – Boil the Sweet Potatoes

For 2 people, I used 2 sweet potatoes and had 3 quarters left over.  Look for long, skinny sweet potatoes since your resulting quarters will be a more appropriate size.  Boil the sweet potatoes whole (in salted water if you prefer, I generally don’t) for 25 minutes or so.  You want them to still be firm-ish so they hold together on the grill, but cooked enough so they have started to release their delicious flavor.  I’ve made these twice now and they were better last night.  They should feel soft but firm.  How’s that for instruction?  Once they are cool enough to handle, remove skins and quarter.  If you don’t have a pump-action oil mister in your kitchen, you need one (we got ours at Walmart for sure.  But this a classy blog).  Use canola oil or another oil with a high flash point and spray all surfaces of the potato quarters  cover and leave on the counter.

Step #2 – Make the Marinade – 

This isn’t all that unique or unusual, but what really made this meal incredible was the chimichurri marinade I found over at epicurious.com.  While your potatoes boil, make the marinade.  The only adjustment I made to their recipe was that of technique:  forget all that hand chopping and hand whisking.  Use your food processor or blender.  However, I didn’t have any shallots, so I went out on a limb and used one medium-thickness slice of a yellow onion in it’s place.  I was skeptical.  Would it be too pungent?  The crucial step in this recipe is the line that says “allow vinegar, onion, and garlic to stand for 10 minutes.”  The vinegar is actually cooking the onions and garlic while it stands.  So go change over your loads of laundry, take a shower, or rub the steak with your spice rub.  But don’t be impatient.

A general blog note on how I measure things:  I don’t.  Unless I’m baking or we’re talking about a quantity of salt, vinegar:oil ratio, or some other such important proportion (corn starch, flour:butter ratio for a roux, or anything involved in baking, don’t worry – I will measure those).  I will always tell you when I make things up as I go along.

So I had a big bunch of cilantro and a big bunch of Italian parsley.  I used 2/3 of the bunch of cilantro, stems and all, and half as much parsley.  I eyeballed it.  I didn’t have fresh oregano, so I skipped it altogether.

Step #4 – Rub the steak

This is a technique I use for all grilled meat that will be used in a Mexican or Southwestern style dish.  You can’t mess this up.  I like it better than marinating for a 2 reasons: 1.) You don’t have to remember to do it ahead of time.  You can, but you don’t have to, and 2.) It imparts a much better flavor to your meat than marinating.  You will need:

Cumin

Chili Powder

Salt

Pepper

Oregano

Simply shake some of each into a little dish, toss with a fork.  I generally prefer my rubs to have 3 parts cumin and 2 parts chili powder, and a small amount of oregano.  S&P to taste.  I keep this spice rub on hand at all times; I recommend it for anyone’s spice rack.  I also use this in my ground beef as taco seasonings.  If you want to be really fancy – my mother buys cumin seeds, toasts them in a cast iron skillet, and uses her coffee bean grinder to grind it fresh.  There’s no denying that the flavor is better.  But I’m lazy.  Choose your own adventure.

Step #5 – Light the grill, oil the rack and cook! (get your spouse or guests to prepare the green salad while you grill)

Self explanatory, right?  I used my pump action oil sprayer on the grill again, which obviously caused a quick grease fire, but I blew it out.  I’m not convinced it actually helped keep the potatoes from sticking.  Grilling the sweet potatoes is an experiment and actually the only tedious part of this recipe (I hate tedious).  I used tongs to very delicately turn them.  I wanted what Husband calls “Sexy American Grill Marks™” – both for plate appeal and for that magical, marshmallow taste that occurs when sweet potatoes burn.  I achieved with about  70% success.

The Presentation:

Thinly slice the steak on an angle.  Arrange on plate with sweet potatoes.  Drizzle Chimichurri Marinade over both.  We used the chimichurri on our salads as well.  It was too good to not make it a perfect trifecta.

The Verdict:

The Chimichurri is an intense green color that is visually explosive, and looks great against the orange of the sweet potatoes.  It is also green, and Husband ate it and said “Wow, this is really good.”  He even put it on his salad.  For the cilantro enthusiasts out there, this is kind of a “yeah, no shit” moment.  Of COURSE cilantro is good.  But as you may or may not know, Husband is very selective about eating Things That Are Green.  I went to freeze the leftover chimichurri and he encouraged me to store it in one of my small glass bottles as a salad dressing because “you make really yummy salad dressings and we’ll eat it.”  I’ll take this as one of the highest compliments I can receive: I made Something Green, Husband ate it.  Victory is mine!

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About whatanniecooked

Wife, mother, nurse, animal lover, outdoors enthusiast, kitchen hack.

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