April 2018 - Spring Grilling Issue
As the snow (finally) begins to melt away here in the Midwest, we’re welcoming the warm weather by getting outdoors. With warmer temperatures, comes fresh spring produce and time outside to enjoy meals.
To celebrate the season, we’re bringing back some of our favorite recipes that are bursting with the flavors of spring - charred asparagus, blistered tomatoes, and a vibrant chimichurri prepared with fresh herbs. Now all that’s left for you to do is get out there and start grilling!
Argentinian-style Grilled Skirt Steak
At Argentinean asados, hosts typically plan to serve .5lb – 1.25 pounds of meat per person. You can scale down if that seems like too much for your guests. We used skirt steak in this recipe because it’s very flavorful, but you can follow these guidelines to cook any cut you like; sirloin, flank, and tenderloin are all classic Argentinean options as well. Argentinians traditionally cook grass-fed beef, as do we, but you can certainly use grain-fed beef if you prefer. This recipe is incredibly simple and delicious. Fresh, good quality ingredients and heat from flavorful wood embers are the key components.
- ½ ounce fresh oregano
- 1 ½ ounces fresh parsley
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup sherry vinegar (I use BLiS 9 Maple Sherry Vinegar)
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 pinches ground cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 beef skirt steaks (grass-fed preferred)
- Fine gray sea salt to taste
- Olive oil
Tips for Preparing This Recipe on a Kalamazoo Gaucho Grill
Start a double-stacked pile of wood on one side of the grill about 45 minutes before you want to start cooking. If you plan to grill much more than the steak in this recipe, create a three-layer fire instead. A two-layer fire will burn faster, which will allow you to start cooking earlier, but it won’t create enough embers for all-day grilling. If you’re really in a hurry, you can use wood chunks instead of splits as they burn down to coals more quickly. However, chunks will not last as long as splits. Oak is a nice all-purpose, easy-to-find choice and will create the most traditional Argentinean flavor.
Once the wood is stacked, run the ignition burners for 5 minutes to start the fire. For more tips on starting and maintaining your fire read our post about cooking Argentinean-Style Asado on the Gaucho Grill.
Always keep the grill grates well above the flames to prevent soot from building up on them. The soot can transfer to the food, discoloring it and creating undesirable flavors.
Preparing the Food
Prepare the chimichurri by combining all the ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth, then adjust the taste with more salt if needed. Refrigerate until it’s time to use it, but no more than 5 hours.
Skirt steak often has one end that is thicker than the other. If this is the case, cut each piece of skirt steak in two, to separate the thinner tapered end from the thicker part of the muscle. Rub with oil and salt each piece liberally. Place the thicker pieces on the grill first directly above the embers, then add the thinner pieces approximately a minute later. This will ensure each piece cooks evenly, to the correct doneness. Rotate each piece 90 degrees after approximately a minute. Let the steaks cook for approximately another minute before flipping them and repeating the process.
Once the meat is brown on the outside but still rare on the inside, raise the grill grate up higher above the coals and let the steaks cook for about 3 more minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches between 125-135 degrees Fahrenheit. Pull the steaks off the grill and let rest for 2-3 minutes. We recommend cutting the steak into 4 or 5 inch sections, making it easier to cut across the grain. Slicing across the grain is particularly important in ensuring the steak is tender when served. Drizzle the steak with chimichurri and enjoy.
Grilled Avocados Filled with Blistered Tomato Salsa
Some of the best summer appetizers are also the easiest to prepare, and our grilled, stuffed avocados certainly fit the bill. This starter takes just minutes to make, but it looks and tastes fantastic.
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus more for the tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lime juice
- 3 avocados
- Fine sea salt
- Coarsely-ground black pepper
- 18 grape tomatoes
- 2 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons coarsely-chopped cilantro leaves
- Sour cream
Notes on using a Kalamazoo Hybrid Fire Grill:
This recipe grills ingredients for a short period, so you may wish to just use the gas burners if you are not cooking other items. Pre-heat the grill on high for about 10 minutes. For the medium-hot fire, you can turn the burners down to medium right after placing the ingredients on the grill grate.
To grill with charcoal, load the Hybrid Fire Grill Drawer with premium Kalamazoo Quebracho Charcoal and fire up the gas burners on high. Once the charcoal fire is set, you can turn off the gas burners below. Wait until the charcoal is ashed over and all visible flame has subsided before grilling the ingredients.
Prepare the grill for direct grilling over a medium-hot fire.
Crush the garlic clove into a medium bowl. Add the oil and lime juice and whisk together. Halve and pit the avocados. Brush some of the oil mixture onto each half without letting any puddle in the hole where the pit was (we don’t want it dripping into the grill and causing flare-ups). Reserve the remaining liquid. Season the avocados liberally with salt and pepper.
Skewer the grape tomatoes and drizzle them with olive oil. Season with salt.
Place the avocados on the grill cut-side-down. Add the tomatoes alongside. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes, turning the tomatoes once. The avocados should be nicely marked and the skin on the tomatoes should be blistered. Remove everything from the grill.
Cut the tomatoes in halves or quarters. Add them to the liquid in the bowl. Fold in the chiles and cilantro to complete the blistered tomato salsa.
Spoon some of the salsa mixture into each avocado half and finish with a little salt. Garnish with dollops of sour cream. Serve warm.
Check out Chef Rick Bayless' Tips for Quick-Grilling 10 Great Foods.
Charred Asparagus Salad
Fresh asparagus is grilled quickly over a blazing-hot charcoal fire. The intense heat allows you to char the asparagus, but pull it off the grill while still al dente. Juice squeezed from grilled lemons forms the base for the vibrantly-flavored dressing, and the rest is a delicious combination of orzo pasta, Marcona almonds and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.
- 1 pound asparagus, trimmed
- 4 lemons, cut in half through the equator
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 pound dried orzo pasta
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup Marcona almond halves
- 1 to 2 ounces shaved Parmigiano Reggiano
Whisk together 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (squeezed from 1 of the lemon halves). Toss the asparagus in the mixture to coat, then season generously with kosher salt.
Grill the asparagus quickly to char the outside, pulling the asparagus off the grill while it is still al dente (you need a very hot fire for this). Fill a sheet pan with ice. Place the asparagus on top of the ice to cool rapidly and stop them cooking further. Once the asparagus is cool, discard the ice. Reserve the asparagus.
Grill the remaining lemon halves (6 or 7) over the same charcoal fire until nicely browned, about 2 minutes. Reserve.
Cook the pasta to al dente in boiling water according to the directions on the package.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the dressing. Use a lemon juicer to juice 4 of the grilled lemon halves into a saucepan. Reduce the lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat until thickened. Whisk in the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Remove from heat and reserve.
Once cooked, strain the pasta and rinse under cold running water to halt the cooking process. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl and immediately fold in the dressing to prevent the pasta from sticking together.
Cut the tips off the grilled asparagus, then slice the stalks on the bias. Fold the stalks and tips into the pasta, along with the almonds and parmesan. Test for taste, adding a little salt if needed.
Serve at room temperature.