Feeling Blue

29 Jul

Not really – things are great!  We’ve had beautiful sunny days on the Oregon Coast, Empire Café’s booth at the Farmer’s Market is selling out, and aside from Sig’s new obsession of sneakily stealing and chewing on wine corks, life is good.  But I do still have blueberries.  Lots of them.

During our spontaneous Costco visit the other day (spontaneous because Costco is two hours away, and we hadn’t planned on going), we picked up some beautiful flank steak.  Our Coos Bay butcher, while having some great, local, and sometimes hard to find cuts of meat, he is often lacking on the flank steak.  It’s a wonderful cut of meat – thin, flavorful while still on the lean side, and responds beautifully to marinades.  I don’t see much of it in restaurants, and I’m wondering if my naïveté is missing something in the steak world; like my affection for flank steak is similar to saying fake nacho cheese is good for you (isn’t it?).

Anywho, growing up, my mom used to make flank steak all the time.  She’d grill them on the rare side, a little more rare than my dad would prefer, and slice them construction paper-thin.  She usually served them with one of our favorite sides – sautéed mushrooms in butter and wine.  Those were usually gone within the first serving.  In my way younger days, I coined the term, “Red Juicy Meat,” in our house and would ask for said food almost every dinner.  And the leftovers were perfect for sandwiches – PB&Js were great (still are), but nothing beat a 3rd grader’s steak sandwich.

So our steak dinner the other night came together kind of haphazardly.  I’ll give you the Jill and Rob conversation (and yes, our kitchen conversations are like this.  Me, more so than him, which often leaves him with raised eyebrows and hands out waiting patiently for me to explain a complete thought.  Such a good man):

We have the steaks – ok, will marinate and grill.  But what else?  We have mushrooms – ok, but let’s try something different.  Inspiration?  Canal House’s Summer volume – yes, pg. 28.  Now, what else… let’s see… Blueberries.  Blueberries, blueberries, blueberries.  Grapes?  Ok, grapes.  “Jill, what…. do you want me to do?”

What?  You didn’t get all that?

So, our summer steak dinner came together beautifully and blue.  Rob had the inspiration to make Blueberry Mojitos (if you want the recipe let me know – I’ll have to ask him how they are made!), and they were the perfect start to our Flank Steak with Roasted Blueberries and Grapes.  And the mixture of the juices from the wine, garlic and herb sautéed mushrooms (I adapted and changed the Canal House Sautéed Mushrooms a bit) was a tangy fresh paring to the hearty meat.  The Roasted Blueberries and Grapes weren’t too sweet, masking the integrity of the steak, but rather gave a syrupy contrast to the salty marinade.  It was divine.

In true tradition, the mushrooms were gone within the dinner, but the leftover steak made for a great appetizer the next day – mini steak crostinis.  It was no lunchtime steak sandwich, but still great.

As I write, I’m finishing the last of the fresh blueberries, popping them in my mouth like bar mix at a pub.  But don’t worry; there are 5 more gallons in the freezer.

Flank Steak with Roasted Blueberries and Grapes (serves 4-6) 

  • 2, 1 lb. flank steak
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/2 c soy sauce
  • 2 c pomegranate juice
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • cracked pepper
  • 1 small bunch of grapes
  • 2 c fresh blueberries
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • s&p
  • chopped parsley (for garnish) 
  • crispy shallots (optional, for garnish)  – simply heat up about 2 c canola oil in a small pot, and drop in thinly sliced shallots in about three batches.  Take out of oil when golden and crispy, and place on paper towel to drain.  Sprinkle with a bit of fine sea salt while they are still warm.  

Preheat oven to 500 degrees, and preheat grill.

To make the marinade, combine the soy sauce, thyme, pom juice, garlic, and cracked pepper in a large lasagna pan.  Add the meat, turning a couple times to make sure it is covered.  Marinade for at least 1 hour (2 hours is the max outside of the fridge), up to 8 in the fridge.

Meanwhile, in a small cast iron pan, melt the butter (I just put the pan with the butter in the oven while it’s heating).  Once melted, but not browned, add the grapes and the blueberries, and a bit of s&p.  Mix together, making sure the fruit is coated with the butter.  Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the fruit is syrupy – blueberries have released their juices, but still have some integrity, and the grapes are swollen and look as if they are going to pop.  Take out of the oven, and immediately hit the fruit with the balsamic vinegar, mixing to combine.

Take the meat out of the marinade, and pat dry.  Drizzle steaks with olive oil, salt, and a generous amount of pepper.  Grill to your liking (I think medium rare is the best for flank steak).

After grilling, let meat rest for about 15 minutes tented with foil.  When ready to serve, place on a platter, slice thin strips against the grain of the meat, and pour the lovely roasted fruit on top.  Sprinkle some parsley and crispy shallots on top, and you’ve got a winner winner steak dinner.  

Enjoy! 

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