Week Night Yum Yum: Steak a la Hall with Grilled Asparagus, Onion Rose, and Mesclun with Cranberries and Bleu Cheese

Friday, August 20, 2010

A super easy grilled dinner that's perfect for the weeknight or last minute weekend dinner party is this menu. The steak recipe is courtesy of our friends Melissa and Andrew Hall, who made it for us when we went over to their house eons ago when we first met and lived in California. It was an awesome dinner -- perfectly simple, flavorful, and delicious -- and I often go to this menu for my own family or when I entertain guests.

The recipe calls for flank steak, but you can easily use skirt steak as well. Just adjust the cooking time if you're using the thinner skirt steak. And sweet onions (Maui, Walla-Walla, Vidalia) are the best grilled this way, as the charcoal brings out the natural sweetness in these onions. You can certainly roast the asparagus in the oven, but I love just throwing them on the grill along with everything else. No need to dirty a sheet pan unnecessarily! The recipe for the salad can be found here towards the end of the post on mesclun salad.

Have fun!

Steak a la Hall
1 flank steak (they usually come in one large piece)
olive or vegetable oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup bleu cheese (recommended: roquefort, gorgonzola, or point reyes)

Preheat grill to high (or set charcoals evenly in the bottom of your grill).

Brush the flank steak with the oil to evenly coat. This will help the seasoning stick to it. Generously sprinkle the steak with salt and pepper and set aside.

Once the grill is hot enough so that you can only keep your hand there for a second or two, it's ready. Place the steak down and cook. It's ready to be flipped when it comes off easily from the grill; if it's sticking, then it's not ready to be flipped so continue cooking. Flip and cook the other side until you can remove it easily also. This technique will give you a perfect medium-rare steak. If you want it cooked more thoroughly, then leave it longer, adding about 2 minutes for each degrees of doneness (i.e., 2 more minutes will give you medium, 4 minutes will give you medium-well, 6 minutes will give you a shoe). Remove and let stand 2 minutes so juices can redistribute. If you're going to use a thicker cut of steak (rib eye), then you'll need to cook the steak longer.

While the steak rests, make the bleu cheese sauce. Simply melt the butter in a saucepan or in the microwave and then add the blue cheese. Then serve on the side for the steak, or slice the steak into 3/4 inch slices against the grain, and lay out on a serving platter. Then pour the butter-cheese mixture over the top and serve immediately.

Grilled Asparagus
1 bunch asparagus
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Cut off the tough lower stems from the asparagus and discard or freeze for later use (to make cream of asparagus soup). Drizzle the asparagus spears with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then give a good toss. Grill on high heat until light char marks are achieved, about 5 minutes, turning often. You can season the asparagus up to a day in advance before grilling. Serve immediately.

Onion Rose
2 large sweet onions (recommended: Vidalia, Maui, or Walla-Walla)
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Remove the skins of the onions and carefully cut off the top and bottoms of each onion, leaving a nice clean globe. Cut the onions in 1.5 inch thick slices. Brush both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill on high heat until nice char marks are achieved, about 5-7 minutes total, turning once or twice during cooking time. Let stand a minute. To make a rose shape, simply gently push down in the middle of the onion ring until you make a rose shape. Serve hot.

My Notes:
Roquefort, gorgonzola, and Point Reyes are the bleu cheeses I've found are the best for this because they have a higher cream content and therefore melt easier. If you wanted bigger pieces of bleu cheese in the sauce, you can certainly use a stilton or similar cheese. But if you wanted a really creamy bleu cheese sauce, then go ahead the the roquefort, gorgonzola or Point Reyes.

Again, this recipe is written for a flank or skirt steak. They are cheaper cuts of meat with lots of flavor. You just need to know how to cook them and more importantly, how to cut them properly. When serving, make sure you cut the steak against the grain. This means, finding the fibers of the steak (they'll all go in one direction), and then slicing into the steak directly perpendicular to that direction (hence, cutting across the grain). This will give you moist and tender slices. If you cut with the grain (i.e. in the same direction), then you'll cut tougher pieces of meat.

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