How to Cook Skirt Steak: Recipes That Work Every Time

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Grilled Skirt Steak with Onion Marinade

Now that autumn is officially here, are you thinking about rolling your grill into the garage for the winter? Well, stop right there. Leave it out just a little longer because today we’re cooking skirt steak on the grill. There’s simply no better way to get a both a deep char and a juicy interior on skirt steak than over live fire. Still, fire can be intimidating and unpredictable, right? Not always. I’ve got a technique that will make you look like a master of the grill with very little effort. All you need is an understanding of the unique challenges skirt steak holds and then make these challenges work in your favor.

The thing about skirt steak is that it’s quite thin. It cooks very quickly and it’s difficult to get a good crusty char on the outside without overcooking the inside. Overcooking is something that must be avoided with skirt steak. But so is undercooking. I like rare steak as much as the next guy (maybe more than the next guy). Skirt steak, however, is not at its best when served rare because the muscle fibers haven’t had a chance to break down. Ideally, you should serve skirt steak somewhere between medium-rare and medium which is an interior temperature of about 130 to 135 degrees F. You could rely on an instant-read thermometer, but I don’t. Monitoring interior temperature is a dependable trick for thicker cuts of meat, but I find skirt steak too awkwardly thin to easily and accurately gauge the interior temperature at the center. After all, dead-center can be a target no bigger than 1/8-inch. Instead, I follow a Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton routine that works perfectly every time.

skirt steak with onion marinadeGrilled Skirt Steak

Let’s start at the beginning. When you bring your skirt steak home unfold it and lay out flat in front of you. You’ll be surprised how long it is. One pound of skirt steak is about 2 feet long and so lanky it seems an awkward contender for the grill. But keep reading, despite the appearance of the meat the grill is the very best way to cook skirt steak. So start the fire.

For me, grilled skirt steak starts with a marinade. Ribeyes, t-bones, even bland tasting filets – I don’t typically marinate before grilling. The exceptions to this rule are flank steak and skirt steak. Their brawny texture, earthy flavor, and loose-knit structure make them perfect for absorbing a marinade. But all marinades are not created equal. I wouldn’t choose the same marinade for a flank steak as I would a skirt steak. While both are cut from the underbelly of the cow, skirt steak is not as thick or dense as flank steak. Skirt steak is also richer and more marbled than flank steak. Which means you should choose to marinate skirt steak in something that is simply flavorful, whereas flank steak needs a marinade that tenderizes as well as flavorizes. My go-to marinade for skirt steak is nothing more than pulverized onion, garlic and olive oil. If you have the time, you should marinate the meat the day before you grill it.

But the marinade is not the secret I want to share today. I want to tell you how to cook skirt steak on the grill to a perfect medium-rare every time without having to think or guess or pray.

Grilled Skirt Steak

How to Cook Skirt Steak

I’ll admit that many of these skirt steak tricks go against everything we all learned about grilling meat, so you may be tempted to doubt one or two of my suggestions. But if you put aside what you think you know about grilling and look at the piece of meat in front of you I think you’ll see these “tricks” are merely common sense.

  • First, cut the meat into sizes that will comfortably fit the active area of your grill. This method requires that the skirt steak lay flat and relatively undisturbed during grilling.
  • Next, consider the marinade. As I said I marinate skirt steak in an onion puree. You may use whatever marinade you like. However, you if you want to try my marinade let me give you some advice: double wrap the container holding the meat in plastic wrap or tie it tightly into an impermeable plastic bag. Otherwise, your refrigerator will quickly smell like a boys’ locker room.
  • When it’s time to grill it’s time to break the first of those grilled meat rules we all memorized. Rather than bringing the meat to room temperature as you would a big thick ribeye, you’ll want to lay the meat on the hot grill straight from the cold refrigerator. This will prevent the inside from cooking too quickly while the outside builds up a nice char.
  • Next look at each piece of meat before you lay it on the grill. There will be thicker parts and thinner parts. Adjust the placement so that the thinner areas are next to the cooler outside edges of the fire.
  • Lastly and most importantly, forget the thermometer and grab a kitchen timer instead. Cook the meat over medium-high heat for three minutes exactly then flip it over and cook the other side two minutes exactly. Next, transfer the meat to a cutting board to rest two more minutes (exactly). The interior will continue to cook without burning the exterior. At this point move the meat back to the grill and cook it one more minute on each side for medium-rare (if you prefer medium add an extra minute of cooking time when grilling the second side). Resting the meat before finishing cooking the meat may seem rule breakingly counter-intuitive. However, if you wait until the end of cooking to rest the meat (as you would a big thick ribeye) then this thin cut be will cold even before you bring it to the table.
  • Finally, cut each steak with the grain into four to six-inch sections then slice each section into thin strips against the grain. Serve it while it’s hot – cuz if you follow this method it will be.

GREG

Grilled Skirt Steak

Grilled Skirt Steak with Onion Marinade

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4-6Source Adapted from Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez DentonPublished
Grilled Skirt Steak with Onion Marinade

Ingredients

  • 2 cup diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
  • ¼ cup extra-vrgin olive oil (plus more for the grates)
  • 2 pound skirt steak cut with the grain into pieces suited to your grill)
  • each kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • smoked sea salt (optional)
  • chimichurri (optional)

Directions

Marinate the skirt steak: Combine the onion, garlic, and olive oil in a blender. Process until smooth. You may need to add a tablespoon or two of water to get the mixture moving depending on the water content of the onion. Lay the skirt steak into a baking dish and pour in the onion marinade, coating both sides. Cover the dish well and wrap the covered dish in plastic to keep the onion scent from permeating your refrigerator; chill at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

Grill the skirt steak: Prepare a grill to medium-high heat.

Remove the steak from the marinade. Scrape away any clinging marinade and season both sides generously with salt and pepper. While the meat is still cold transfer it to the oiled grates of the heated grill. Cook the meat on one side for 3 minutes exactly. Flip the meat and cook an additional two minutes. At this point move the meat to a cutting board to rest for 2 minutes. The carryover heat will cook the interior without scorching the exterior. Return the meat to the grill and cook 1 minute. Flip the meat and cook 1 more minute for medium-rare or 2 more minutes for medium. Move the meat to the cutting board and immediately cut each steak with the grain into four to six-inch sections then slice each section into thin strips across the grainy muscle fibers at a 45-degree angle. Serve immediately with smoked sea salt and chimichurri (if using).

 

 

 

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Caramelized Sweet Onion Soup & Frank Family Chardonnay

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Caramelized Sweet Onion Soup

I’ve been waiting for soup weather. Well, I should say I’ve been waiting for Caramelized Sweet Onion Soup weather. In Los Angeles, our on-again-off-again heat is quite unpredictable. September usually boasts some of the warmest weather of the year. And it is sometimes paired with a rare bout of humidity. Moreover, September is also when we start flirting with the true blue skies and chilly evenings that define autumn in Southern California. It’s this last weather pattern that I’ve been hoping to see sooner rather than later. That’s because sweet onion season is coming to a close, and I wanted one last sweet onion hurrah.

Wine Pairing

Frank Family Chardonnay 2014

Frank Family Chardonnay 2014
Ken Eskenazi

Price $30-$35

Pairs well with roast chicken, shellfish, butter/cream, mushrooms, onions and garlic

French Onion Soup is one of my favorite cool weather meals. However, today’s soup is not that soup. This soup, just like our weather, is a less predictable onion soup. It starts with caramelized onions just like its famous French cousin. That’s where the similarity ends. My Caramelized Sweet Onion Soup is creamy rather than cheesy. It’s lighter in another sense as well. This soup isn’t made with beef stock, it’s made with chicken stock (or, just as acceptably, with vegetable stock).

The biggest difference, however, is that my soup is a sweet onion soup. Made from sweet Walla Walla onions.

I’ve often been impressed by the sweetness of sweet onions. I swear I could eat them out of hand like an apple. Especially the extra crunchy Maui onions grown on volcanic slopes in Hawaii. What makes them (or Vidalia or Walla Walla onions) so sweet? I’ve heard that the sugar content of these sweet onions is about the same as the more pungent yellow onions. Besides, technically speaking, there’s no such thing as a “sweet” onion – all cultivated onions are of the same genus and species.

How is this possible? I’ve tasted the sweet difference for myself. Well, like the grapes in wine, the answer lies in terroir. Sweet onions are planted in low-sulfur volcanic soil. This type of soil gives sweet onions about half as much of the biting acid that causes the teary eyes associated with yellow onions. So it’s not the sugar that makes sweet onions sweet, it’s the lack of sulfur. Also, sweet onions are “fresh” onions. They’re sometimes referred to as “short day” onions because they’re planted in the fall and harvested in spring or early summer. Then they’re given a very short “cure” period, resulting in a high water content, keeping them fresh, crisp, and sweet. GREG

caramelized onionsfrank family chardonnay sweet onionsCaramelized Sweet Onion Soup

Caramelized Sweet Onion Soup

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 8-10Source adapted from John CurrencePublished
Caramelized Sweet Onion Soup

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 5 pound sweet onions (such as Maui, Vidalia, or Walla Walla) peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt and white pepper (as needed)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 celery ribs (chopped)
  • 4 clove garlic (peeled, minced and divided)
  • 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
  • 1 cup fino sherry
  • 2 quart chicken or vegetable stock
  • 4 cup rustic bread cubes
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Directions

Melt ½ cup butter in a large enameled cast-iron casserole. Add the sliced onions, thyme sprigs and a couple of big pinches each of salt and white pepper and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onions soften and release their liquid, about 15 minutes. Lower the heat a little, add sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are creamy and caramelized to a medium golden brown, about 1 hour and 30 minutes longer. Discard the woody thyme springs.

While the onions cook, heat olive oil in a medium skillet. Add celery, half the minced garlic, herbes de Provence and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Raise the heat to high and add sherry. Cook until the sherry has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Scrape the celery mixture into the caramelized onions, add the stock and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Melt the remaining ¼ cup butter in a small pan, add remaining minced garlic and continue to cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Spread bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and toss several times with the melted butter until well coated. Bake the croutons for about 10 minutes, tossing halfway, or until golden brown and crisp.

Add the heavy cream to the soup and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup until completely smooth; reheat gently. Season with salt and white pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the croutons and serve.

 

 

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Frank Family Chardonnay 2014

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Frank Family Chardonnay 2014

Greg’s Caramelized Sweet Onion Soup – creamy, rich, layered – needs a wine that can stand up to it. Generally speaking, you can go two ways in choosing a wine pairing: you can either mirror the flavors and textures in the dish or contrast them. This time, I felt a strong sense of simpatico was called for. The Frank Family 2014 Carneros Chardonnay is such a complementary match.

A pleasing green-gold in the glass, a swirl shows this bright young wine’s power (and relatively high alcohol content at 14.5%) with prominent, languid legs or tears. The nose first presents a strong floral impression, that of honeysuckle, followed by ripe tropical fruit and wet stone notes. Your first taste surprises you with its quenching dryness and tartness on the sides of your tongue, surprising in a wine with such a round, lush mouthfeel. This balance of medium-plus acid combined with Chardonnay’s signature oaky butteriness is further enhanced with baking spice highlights, nutmeg in particular. In fact, a strange picture began to form in my mind: banana cream pie. Although not overly sweet, you have the lush tropical fruit aroma, the creamy texture, and a savory buttery crust.

So how does this relate to Greg’s soup? Well, the dish’s generous portions of butter, cream and olive oil crisped croutons certainly complement the brioche notes in the barrel-fermented, lees aged Chardonnay. And I got a slightly coconutty texture from the soup, which Greg said may have been from the minced garlic, mirroring the lush texture and tropical notes in the wine. While the soup is rich and sweet from the caramelized onions, the acid in the wine cuts the paired experience down a notch, allowing you to indulge in another serving. And another glass of this plush, pure expression of a well-crafted small production California Chardonnay. KEN

I received complimentary samples of Frank Family Chardonnay. All opinions are my own.

Pairs With Caramelized Sweet Onion Soup & Frank Family Chardonnay

frank family chardonnay

Époisses Toasts: An Ooey-Gooey French Cheese Appetizer

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Epoisses Toasts

We seem to be on a French kick here at Sippity Sup. I suppose that’s a natural reaction to travel. In fact, I always get a little obsessed by the places we take this little blog. With that in mind I recently found myself lingering at Murray’s Cheese counter pondering piles of French cheese. While contemplating conventional favorites like Comté, Brie, and Camembert, I came across a round wooden box labeled Époisses. I looked at the word and began to try and sound it out. I guess my rudimentary French caught the attention of the guy behind the counter who came to my linguistic rescue and told me a few things about the Époisses cheese in my hand.

First off, he said, Époisses is the most famous of the French “funky” cheeses. Which made me feel a little silly having never heard of it before. He explained that Époisses is a soft, buttery cheese with a “fragrant” orange rind. I generally like “bloomy” soft cheeses like brie and camembert (which also come in a cute round box). I eat them white mold rind and all. I also enjoy the sticky-skinned, washed-rind varieties with profoundly unmentionable aromas. The cheesemonger told me that Époisses is so funky that it’s banned from being carried on public transport in France. In cheese talk, “funk” means “stink”. Époisses is stinky cheese. Not one to let a new taste (or aroma) pass me by, I carefully lifted the top of the box. The cheese inside is wrapped in a permeable, sniffable wrapper.

Ah, monkey fur and horse sweat! So on a whiff and a whim I brought the cheese home.

Right off the bat, I’m sure you’re wondering how anything whose fragrance could politely be called “funky” or less forgivingly “barnyard” could taste any good at all. Well, all I can say is that it’s a gastronomic miracle. Despite the whiff of donkey butt, Époisses is silky and sensuous with surprising mellow flavors. I decided to serve this aromatic fromage as an appetizer-sized, open-faced grilled cheese. I balanced the ooey-gooey texture and meaty flavors with pickled shallots and some sweet and tangy onion jam I adapted from San Fransisco chef Michael Lee Rafidi.

Oh, and to save you the embarrassment I faced I can’t leave you guessing how to pronounce Époisses. It may start with an  “E”, but that “E” is pronounced as a long “A”. The “es” at the end of  gets dropped – so just ignore it. The most important thing to know about the pronunciation of Époisses is that “oi” in the middle does not sound like the “oi” in “oi vey”. It’s properly pronounced as “wah”. Put that all together and Époisses is pronounced “ay-PWAHSS,” with the emphasis on the second half of the word. GREG

Époisses

Type: Unpasteurized cows’ milk
Origin: Burgundy, France
Process: Washed with water and brandy three times a week for six weeks.
Aroma: Barnyard
Texture: At 30 days, slightly grainy; at 40 days, a sticky, smooth, velvety paste–“spoonable” at room temperature when well-aged
Shape: a round, flat disc
Color: pale orange at 30 days; deeper, orange/red/brown at 40 days
Rind: Thin , edible rind washed with brine and brandy, wrinkles as it ages
Flavor: pungently meaty, earthy, salty, nutty

GREG

Epoisses cheeseEpoisses ToastsEpoisses Toasts

Époisses Toasts with Pickled Shallots and Onion Jam

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 12Source adapted from Michael Lee RafidiPublished
Époisses Toasts with Pickled Shallot and Onion Jam

Ingredients

  • ½ cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 3/4 cup water (divided)
  • 3/4 cup red wine vinegar (divided)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar (divided)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (divided)
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 large yellow onion (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • freshly cracked black pepper (as needed for seasoning)
  • 12 slice baguette (sliced on the bias)
  • 1 (8 oz) wheel Époisses cheese (chilled and cut into 12 wedges)
  • baby arugula leaves (to taste)

Directions

Make the pickled shallots: Place the sliced shallots in a medium, heat-proof bowl. Place ½ cup water, ½ cup vinegar, ¼ cup sugar, and ½ teaspoon salt in a small, nonreactive saucepan; bring to a boil and remove from heat. Allow the mixture to cool then pour over the shallots. Let sit at least 8 hours at room temperature.

Make the onion jam: Melt the butter in a medium skillet set over medium-low heat. Add the onions and stir to coat. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are deep, golden brown, about 1 hour. Raise the temperature to medium-high and add remaining ¼ cup water and stir, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom. Add remaining ¼ cup vinegar, remaining ¼ cup sugar, soy sauce, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, thyme leaves, and season with a few grinds of black pepper. Cook, stirring often until liquid is reduced and syrupy. Set aside to cool.

Make the Époisses Toasts: Preheat the broiler. Place the baguette slices on a sheet pan in a single layer and lay a chilled cheese wedge on each slice of bread. Broil until the cheese is melted and the edges of the bread are nicely browned.

Quickly move the toasts to a serving plate and top each with a teaspoon or two onion jam, a few leaves baby arugula, and some pickled shallots. Season with black pepper and serve immediately.

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How to Drink Pastis Like the French

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How to Drink Pastis Like the French

I’ve traveled a fair amount in my life and I’ve made lots of observations about the world. One of the truest: The French know how to live life. They even have a phrase for this talent – joie de vivre. One of the joi-iest of their vivres is the habit of relaxing over an aperitif before dinner. If you find yourself in the south of France, especially in summer, that apéro (as the aperitif is fondly referred) will likely be pastis. From the workaday dockside bars of Marseille to the quaint cafes along the cobbled lanes of ancient villages – in the hands of old men rolling petanque balls in the town square to the tables of hipsters in trendy restaurants – you’ll find tapered glasses of cloud-colored pastis.

Pastis

Pastis has a strong alcohol-forward personality that can be off-putting to the uninitiated. However, once you become familiar with the magic of pastis, you’ll probably find it irresistible. The flavor is anise. It’s slightly sweet, but not at all cloying. If you’re a fan of black licorice, you’ll probably fall in love with French pastis.

Part of the magical appeal of pastis is the presentation. It’s brought to you in three deconstructed elements: pastis, water, and ice. The bartender will pour about an ounce of the pastis brand of your choice into an 8 1/2 ounce heavy-bottomed, flared glass. A carafe or pitcher of water will be placed next to it, and you may also get a small bowl of ice cubes. I say you may get a bowl of ice cubes, it seems to me that the more “American” you appear the more likely you are to receive ice (Americans are known for their love of icy drinks). Many French people prefer ice-cold water and no actual ice.

Water and Ice

This is where you take over and the magic begins. First, pour the water into the pastis (roughly four parts of water for each part of pastis but you may use more or less if you prefer), then add the ice to the glass if you’re using it (or alternatively add the ice to the pitcher of water before you pour). You’ll immediately notice that the liquid changes from clear amber or transparent green to a milky soft yellow. This is known as the ouzo effect. The science of why the liquid changes appearance so drastically is hard to explain. But basically, the added water alters the percentage of alcohol in the drink. This causes some of the botanicals held in the solution to become insoluble. These particles turn the liqueur cloudy – or, as the French say, louche. GREG

How to Drink Pastis Like the French How to Drink Pastis Like the FrenchHow to Drink Pastis Like the French

 

 

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M. Chapoutier Lieu-dit Hongrie with Grilled Parmesan Oysters

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M. Chapoutier Lieu-dit Hongri 2015

“Look, Aunty Helen, the legal drinking age in France is sixteen! I can come wine tasting with you!” Daniel, my eldest great nephew, was exuberantly holding the results of his Google in front of my face, with triumph in his eyes. During the course of our vacation in the Ardèche, I had been introducing him to the idea that wine drinking could involve more than glugging relatively inoffensive fluid from a five-liter box. He had scoffed at the idea of perhaps paying upwards of $200 for a bottle of wine, even as I tantalized him with stories of drinking lace, velvet, and three act symphonies. Now he was asking me to prove it with a tasting trip to M. Chapoutier.

The Chapoutier tasting room in Tain-Hermitage is a sublime starting point to introduce anyone to the transcendence of the grape. Michel Chapoutier is the rock star of the Rhone valley. His biodynamic approach to wine literally seems to suck the energy of the grape and take it to the outer edges of the Milky Way in heavenly expression. The tastings are free but the experience of the wine is so divinely heady, that I cannot imagine anyone leaving without buying at least one bottle.

We were extremely fortunate to be guided by David, a young winemaker under the mentorship of Michel Chapoutier. He asked Daniel what kind of music he liked… heavy metal… I grimaced appropriately. “To the majority of people like Aunty Helen, heavy metal is just noise, but to you, Daniel, there is a vast difference between the music of Metallica and say, Iron Maiden. You hear the progression of a band from album to album, you appreciate the guitar riffs, the lyrics, the energy and all the details of its components… so it is with wine.”

M. Chapoutier Lieu-dit Hongrie 2015

So it was that Daniel first experienced the sensual explosions of Marsanne, Viognier, and Syrah. He was astounded by the intense differences that can be explored by the senses when encountering the same kind of grape grown on a certain patch of land or in a specific year. He was able to identify the 2015 Lieu-dit Hongrie from Saint-Peray as the stand-out Marsanne from our tasting. I billowed with pride as Daniel took a giant leap by reaching into his pocket to purchase a bottle to take home to hold for his 18th birthday. On the way back to our rented villa in Largentiere, we had a young convert in the car who was no longer bewildered as to why someone would gladly spend 400 euros on a bottle of wine (We had concluded our tasting from a powerhouse 2010 bottle of Le Pavillon from Ermitage, sale price 413.10 euros).

Grilled Parmesan OystersGrilled Parmesan Oysters

I too, purchased a bottle of the Lieu-dit Hongrie to take back to America, with the intention of sharing a little of the trip with the readers of Sippity Sup. Whilst I was reeling with delight at the intoxicating dance of toasted apricot, pear, and honeysuckle, along with a harmonious balance of brine and hazelnuts, David mentioned that the perfect food pairing with this wine would be grilled oysters with Parmesan cheese.

Grilled Parmesan Oysters

On a warm end of summer evening in Los Angeles, Ken and Greg experienced this perfect food and wine pairing whilst Greg approximated the tastes for me (I’m vegetarian) with toasted baguette, French butter and shaved Parmesan. The simplicity of this meal belies the exquisiteness of the combination. All flavors and sensations are complete and distinct, yet so perfectly balanced that no single element stands out or overpowers. The fruit, earth, oak, malolactic fermentation of the wine and the stunning umami of the food curl together in a sacred sand mandala, breathtaking in its beauty, and then gone… HELEN

Helen Melville Sippity Sup wine writer grilled Parmesan oysters

Grilled Parmesan Oysters

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 24Published
Grilled Parmesan Oysters

Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for topping oysters)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoon minced fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 24 large fresh oysters
  • lemon wedges (for serving)

Directions

Make the compound butter: Combine butter, ¼ cup grated Parmesan, garlic, and parsley in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.

Prepare the oysters: Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for medium-high heat. If you’re using charcoal, don’t wait until the coals are white and ashen, you’ll want a little live fire. Using an oyster knife and a heavy glove or towel carefully shuck the oysters, keeping the shell horizontal to retain as much liquid as possible. Wipe the oyster knife clean, discard top shell, then carefully slide the oyster knife under the oyster flesh to cut through the muscle holding it to the shell. Leave the oyster in place. Repeat with remaining oysters setting them carefully on a rock salt or gravel covered serving plate as you work. This will keep the oysters sitting upright. Once all the oysters are shucked dollop Parmesan-butter mixture evenly onto the oysters, followed by about ½ teaspoon additional grated Parmesan cheese.

Grill the oysters: When ready to grill place the oysters, face up, directly on the grates over lightly flaming live fire. Wait for the butter to melt and begin to sizzle, about 2 to 3 minutes. Depending on the heat of the fire, you may need to cover the grill during cooking so they cook quickly. Using tongs, carefully move the grilled oysters, retaining the liquid, to the rock salt or gravel covered serving plate. Serve immediately with lemon wedges on the side.

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FAC & SPERA – MAISON CHAPOUTIER (English Version) from GFILM on Vimeo.

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The Ardèche in the Rhône-Alps, France

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The Ardèche in the Rhône-Alps

What do you say if you’re invited to join a family vacation, but it’s not your family? Well, if it’s your partner in wine’s family – and it’s in a part of France you’ve never been to before – you say yes Helen! I’ve recently returned from a glorious week in the Ardèche, in the Rhône-Alps region of France. While I hesitate to spill the beans about this still-relatively-undiscovered area of France and its overwhelming natural beauty, charming ancient villages, astounding prehistoric caves and superb local food and wine, I also feel I owe it to the loyal Sippity Suppers out there to offer a little hint on what the Ardèche has to offer.

Helen Melville in the Ardèche France

First off, Helen booked a magnificent complex of three stone-walled houses overlooking a heavily wooded valley with a view to the medieval hilltop village of Montreal. Not a bad start. If you can tear yourself away from reading and rosé (R&R) by the pool, there are plenty of things to do in the Ardèche. The (medieval) town of Largentière is only a twenty-minute walk down the road – offering cafés, croissants, pain au chocolate, baguettes, charcuterie, crêpes, local wines, patriotic statues, Nôtre-Dame-des-Pommiers (a thirteenth-century church), winding cobblestone streets, precarious stone stairways and several bars and shops to explore.

Ken Eskenazi in the Ardèche in the Rhône-Alps, FranceRose Wine in the Ardèche in the Rhône-Alps, France Saucisson from the Ardèche in the Rhône-Alps, France Largentiere in the Ardèche, France

Hop in the car and an hour or so later you can find yourself canoeing along the Ardèche River toward (and under) the Vallon Pont d’Arc, an imposing natural stone bridge. This spot is popular with tourists, mostly French and of course a few Germans, and is on the route to several spectacular caves, or grottes. We toured the ancient (and sadly dying) Grotte de St. Marcel with its lone Paleolithic painting, naturally formed rimstone pools and cathedral-like chambers. We continued on to a recreation of the Grotte Chauvet. The “real” 36,000-year-old cave was discovered in 1994 and authorities wisely closed it to visitors to protect its treasures: live stalactites and stalagmites, 300 paintings of rhinoceroses, lions, bears, owls, mammoths, a herd of horses and an artistic array of handprints. Check out the Werner Herzog documentary “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” and be amazed.

Cave painting in the Ardèche, France

Last but definitely not least, we went wine tasting. We motored over to Tain-l’Hermitage in a different corner of the Ardèche to sample the artistry of M. Chapoutier. We were treated to a personal tour of the biodynamic vineyards by the personable David, then took a short stroll to the tasting room. Helen had met well-regarded winemaker Michel Chapoutier some years back in L.A., so we were given the royal treatment.

David pours at M. Chapoutier

We began by tasting the “Prestige” collection, four whites then four reds. Chapoutier is known for producing single-varietal wines, even in areas that usually produce blends. For example, 13 varietals can be used in a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but Chapoutier only uses Grenache. Hence the first two wines we tasted were 100% Marsanne, with the luscious Lieu-dit Hongrie from Saint-Péray as the standout. I quite liked the intense vivacity of the 100% Viognier Condrieu Invitare that followed– apricot, nectarine, nutmeg and top notes of Good Earth tea with orange zest– so I bought a bottle to share with the family back at the villa.

My mind was blown with the ninth and tenth wines. These were from the “Fac&Spera” collection. I saw David consulting with one of his colleagues before offering us a soupçon of the last remaining bottle of 2012 Les Greffieux rouge: a glorious, generous, unbelievably round and rich (yet balanced) dark fruit elixir. Or as Helen said, “it’s like drinking part of your soul.” Finally, the “Rolls Royce” of Ermitage, Le Pavillon. I was beyond taking notes at that point, so you’ll just have to trust me that it was a singular experience.

So be nice to your friends! You never know when you’ll end up in a new family in a hitherto unknown part of the world like the Ardèche. KEN

Largentiere in the Ardèche in the Rhône-Alps, France The Ardèche in the Rhône-Alps, France House in the Ardèche, France

Some photos appear courtesy of my editorial partnership with Shutterstock and SeeProvence.

 

 

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Jicama Salad with Chicken and Green Goddess Dressing

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Chicken and Jicama Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

If you’ve ever traveled to Mexico or even to some of the Latino neighborhoods in Los Angeles, you’ll find street vendors selling crunchy lime-spritzed jicama sticks called botanos. They’re usually served upright, splayed like a large exotic bloom growing out of a paper cup. They’re artfully sprinkled with bright red chili powder and are eaten on the go as a healthy snack. Every time I see these jicama salad sticks I’m amazed how they turn a homely, nearly forgotten vegetable into a magnificent still life and I think to myself, “Why don’t I eat more jicama?”

Jicama is a bushy vine that’s part of the legume family. Unlike a bean, however, the edible portion is the tuber that grows underground like a potato. Beneath the brown skin, the flesh is crisp and white. It has a crunchy texture, not unlike that of water chestnuts or maybe a savory apple. Despite its starchy nature jicama is low in calories and has a very low glycemic index, making it a good choice for diabetics.

jicama

As I said, jicama is a nearly forgotten vegetable in my life though I admit I walk past piles of them in my local Mexican market almost every day. They sit next to the avocados and I usually reach right past them to grab an avocado or two on my way out of the store.

However, usually is not always. I’d just left the doctor’s office the last time I went shopping at the Mexican market. There’s a very smart street vendor who parks herself by the doctor’s front door. She sells beautiful, sliced and ready to eat fruits of all sorts. Most of her customers have just been reminded by their doctor that they should eat more fruit and veg. This vendor gives them a rainbow of choices including the jicama salad botanos I mentioned. I didn’t stop and buy her fruit that day, the line was already quite long with guilt-ridden patients, but I did have jicama on my mind when I walked into the market later that afternoon. So I grabbed an avocado with one hand and a jicama with the other hand.

The result of my two-fisted shopping is a simple Chicken Jicama Salad that’s tossed with Green Goddess Dressing. Something you might just call a Chicama Salad! GREG

A Tip for the Cook: Large jicama can be dry and fibrous. Look for medium-sized jicama that feels heavy for its size.

Chicken and Jicama Salad with Green Goddess DressingChicken and Jicama Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

Chicken Jicama Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6-8Published
Chicken Jicama Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

Ingredients

  • ½ ripe avocado (peeled and pitted)
  • ¼ cup flat leaf parsley leaves
  • 3 anchovy fillets (packed in oil; drained)
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • salt and black pepper (as seasoning)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 medium jicama
  • 2 tablespoon chopped dill
  • lettuce leaves (as needed, for serving)

Directions

Make the dressing: In a blender or mini food processor, combine avocado, parsley, anchovies, garlic, chives, tarragon, sour cream, mayonnaise and lemon juice; blend until smooth. Scrape the dressing into a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until serving time.

Cook the chicken: Sprinkle chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to the skillet, swirl to coat the bottom and place the chicken thighs into the pan in a single layer. Cook 8 to 10 minutes or until browned and cooked through, turning once. Transfer to cutting board to rest about 6 minutes. Slice the chicken into strips across the grain then roughly chop into bite-size pieces; set aside.

Prepare the Jicama: Carefully peel the jicama using a knife. Cut the jicama crosswise into ¼-inch thick slices. Cut the slices lengthwise into ¼-inch matchsticks. Place the matchsticks into a large bowl and cover with cool water; soak at least 20 minutes, then drain, rinse and dry the jicama. Set aside.

Assemble the salad: Toss the jicama, chicken, chopped dill and about ½ cup dressing (or to taste) until well-coated. Serve the salad immediately on top of the lettuce leaves.

 

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Spicy Flank Steak Naanwich

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Spicy Flank Steak Naanwich

I have a quick and easy idea for you. Spicy Flank Steak Naanwich with Apple Slaw. Get it? It’s a sandwich made with naan and it’s the perfect solution for “one of those days”. I think you know what kind of day I’m talking about. The kind of day when you wake up in the morning and rather than bound out of bed you lay there a bit longer than you know you should. After all, there’s a dog to walk and she’s already clicking around on the hardwood making her needs known. So you drag yourself out of bed because you know that there is bread to “win” and bacon to “bring home”. Why does life require so much bread and bacon?

It’s days like these when I look for shortcuts. Sandwiches often fill this gap nicely. It’s easy to turn to sliced bread in a pinch, and there is endless room for sandwich creativity. But what makes a truly harmonious sandwich? After all, the sandwich is a rather broad concept. Even the bread is optional. I’d even call lettuce cups a type of sandwich. When I’m looking for an easy but creative sandwich presentation I often reach for store-bought naan. Did I say sandwich? I meant to say naanwich.

A naanwich is sorta like a gyro or a puffy taco. It’s easy to make because you can fill it with whatever you have on hand. Even leftovers. I chose leftover, spicy flank steak, and balanced it with a sweet-tart green apple slaw that I put together at the last moment. The hot chile condiment I slathered onto this naanwich was adapted from the Los Angeles restaurant Hinoki and the Bird. It was also a leftover from a previous meal. You can recreate all three elements especially for this naanwich from the recipe I cobbled together below. In the end, I think it’s a pretty swell little package! GREG

Spicy Flank Steak Naanwich

Spicy Flank Steak with Apple Slaw Naanwich

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 8Source Sauce and Marinade adapted from Hinoki & The BirdPublished
Spicy Flank Steak with Apple Slaw Naanwich

Ingredients

  • 1 cup apple juice
  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup (plus 1 tablespoon) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 6 scallions (whites and most of the greens thinly sliced) divided
  • 2 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 4 tablespoon toasted sesame oil (divided)
  • 1 flank steak (about 2 lbs)
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 2 shallots (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • kosher salt (as needed for seasoning)
  • 3 clove garlic (peeled and crushed)
  • 2 tablespoon chili paste (such as sambal oelek)
  • 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 Granny Smith apple (cored and cut into matchsticks)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 8 pieces naan (about 8 inches in diameter)

Directions

Marinate the flank steak: In a medium bowl, combine the apple juice, soy sauce, ¼ cup lemon juice, 4 sliced scallions, minced garlic, ginger, and 2 tablespoons sesame oil. Place the flank steak in a resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade into the bag. Seal the bag and transfer it to a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate 12 to 24 hours.

Make the sauce: In a small skillet, heat the canola oil. Add the shallots, season with salt and cook over medium-high heat, until lightly golden and softened, about 5 minutes. Scrape the shallots into a blender or food processor and allow the to cool slightly, then add crushed garlic, 2 remaining sliced scallions, chili paste, rice vinegar, remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil and brown sugar. Process until smooth, season to taste and transfer to a bowl. Set aside.

Make the apple slaw: In a medium bowl, toss the apples with granulated sugar and remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice; set aside.

Grill the flank steak: A half hour before grilling, remove the flank steak from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.

Meanwhile, light the grill or preheat a grill pan. Remove the flank steak from the marinade, scraping off excess. Discard marinade.

Grill the flank steak over medium-high heat. For a steak that is about 1 ½-inch thick, cook it for 6 minutes on the first side. Then flip it over and continue to cook until the steak is done, about 4-6 minutes more medium-rare, longer if you prefer more well done.

When cooked to your liking move the steak on a cutting board. Allow it to rest for 6 to 8 minutes. Cut the steak across the grain into thin strips.

Make the naanwich: Heat a griddle or large skillet and warm the naan, on both sides, until pliable and just beginning to toast. Generously spread some of the prepared sauce onto the center of a piece of naan, layer on 4 or 5 slices flank steak, then top with some apple slaw. Fold the naan in half like a taco, and fasten it closed with 1 or 2 toothpicks. Repeat with remaining pieces of naan. Serve immediately.

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Eat Your Broccoli Greens

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Eat Your Broccoli Greens

Lettuce. Collards. Spinach. These tried and true greens are great. By now I’m sure you’re aware that kale will make you immortal. In other words, we all know we should eat more greens, but it’s not always so easy. Greens can get boring. Well, don’t let them get boring. A good way to get excited about eating your greens is to try new greens. Get beyond spinach and romaine and bring some 
lesser-known leafy greens into your kitchen. There’s a world of unexplored greens. That’s because greens are global.

Every culture has greens. Asian greens like bok choy, en choy, and aa choy get all the press. But Italy is fond of some lesser-known bitter greens too. Puntarelle and rapini come to mind. But you don’t need a passport to eat more greens, there are unexpected and unexplored choices right here in North America. One of these greens comes from such a familiar source that it seems completely unexpected. I’m talking about broccoli greens. I don’t mean broccoli, broccoli (you know stalks and florets) I mean leaves. Broccoli greens are broccoli leaves.

Broccoli Greens

I’ve seen broccoli greens popping up at markets more and more, maybe you have too. In the past, nobody paid much attention to them. Farmers mostly just  plowed them under to cultivate the soil. But as we learn more and more about bioactives and cruciferous veggies, broccoli greens are becoming recognized for their nutritional power and have rightfully earned a place on the plate.

At my house, we eat a lot of greens. I like them sautéed, stir-fried, and stewed. I throw them in soups and I include them in salads. You’ll find several recipes for some of my favorites right here on this blog. However, when it comes to greens I can get as bored as the next cook. So I recently took my own advice and looked right past the collards and kales and chose broccoli greens.

I took them home on a very hot day. Errands being what they are, I left them in the back seat of the car a little longer than I probably should have. When I finally got them home I was pleased to see that their adventure hadn’t wilted them a bit. Which got me curious. How do broccoli greens compare to some of the other more common greens?

To find out I adapted a favorite recipe by this Sautéed Broccoli Greens with Toasted Coconut.

The recipe starts by cutting the leaves away from the tough stems. Right away I noticed that the leaves were softer and easier to cut than collard greens or curly kale. So I tasted them raw. While they weren’t quite as squeaky green under tooth as are collards, I thought they were still a little too vegetal tasting to enjoy in a salad. Though less chewy than kale, they weren’t quite as tender as chard or spinach.

This in between texture turned out to be very friendly to cooking. As I sautéed the broccoli leaves I found they cooked faster than the collards I’ve used in this recipe before, and unlike chard or spinach, they didn’t release a ton of water and then get steamed and wilted too quickly. All in all, these qualities make broccoli greens a good alternative in sautéed and stir-fried recipes. I haven’t tried them in stews yet, but I suspect they’ll be well-suited to these recipes as well. All in all, broccoli greens are a very good way to eat more greens. GREG

Broccoli Greens Toasted Coconut
Eat Your Broccoli Greens

Sautéed Broccoli Greens with Toasted Coconut

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source adapted from Louisa ShafiaPublished
Sautéed Broccoli Greens with Toasted Coconut

Ingredients

  • ½ cup raw almonds
  • ½ cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (plus more for seasoning)
  • 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce (for seasoning)
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil (or other mild flavored oil)
  • 3 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
  • 2 bunch broccoli greens (about 1 ½ lbs) before trimming)
  • 1 cup torn fresh basil leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°.

Spread out almonds on a small baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop; transfer to a plate to stop cooking.

Spread out coconut on the same small rimmed baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes; transfer to a plate to stop cooking. Turn oven off.

Create a slurry by mixing cornstarch and water in a small bowl until completely combined. Add soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, fish sauce and red pepper; stir slurry to combine and set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add collard greens a handful at a time, tossing until wilted between additions. Cook, tossing occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes longer. Stir in cornstarch slurry, cook a moment until slightly thickened then season with salt and more vinegar to taste. Move the cooked greens to a serving platter. Garnish with basil, toasted almonds and coconut.

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