Agricultural acts: fall flank steak
Rockport — A slight chill had entered the air when I met Devon Salisbury outside her Rockport home on Thursday, Sept. 13. Devon had emailed me earlier in the week — in her trademark enthusiastic fashion, she said it was about time we tackled a steak.
Having made plans to zip down Route 90 to Curtis Meats to acquire said steak, we hit the road. We reasoned we could purchase the requisite produce at nearby Beth's Farm Market.
Super simple flank steak, medium-rare:
1 large flank steak, ours was 2 3/4 lbs.
Salt and pepper
This portion of the recipe is all about handling the meat. Salt and pepper each side of the steak and let it come to room temperature (about 20 minutes) pat the steak dry as it will release juices from being salted. Re-season the steak and place it on a hot grill. Let it cook for about four minutes — undisturbed — before flipping and cooking for 2 to 3 minutes on the second side. Pull the steak from the heat and allow it to rest 10 minutes after applying dollops of tomato compound butter before slicing into strips.
Roasted tomato compound butter:
1 stick softened butter (or any amount you desire)
1 cup tomatoes
2 tbs olive oil
sea salt to taste
Quarter tomatoes, spread evenly and salt before roasting on a sheet pan coated with olive oil in a 375-degree oven for 20 minutes or until tops begin to brown. Turn the oven off and allow tomatoes to remain in the oven for several hours (Devon leaves hers overnight). Mix cooled tomatoes with butter, stir vigorously until evenly blended. Place in the refrigerator to stiffen before use. The compound butter can also be rolled in plastic wrap and frozen.
Roasted red potatoes:
Red potatoes, 1 large or 2-3 baby per person
2 tbs. olive oil
1-2 whole heads garlic
sea salt and pepper to taste
Quarter or halve red potatoes depending on size. Spread on a sheet pan adding cloves of garlic (whole) intermittently, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. Hand toss the entire mixture until oil and seasoning is evenly distributed. Roast at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes until potatoes have browned on the outside and cooked on the interior.
Zucchini and green bean succotash:
2 medium-sized zucchini
2 cups green beans, cleaned and blanched
1 large onion
6 ears of corn, kernels only
1-2 tsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Cut green beans into pieces — thirds lengthwise — blanch in warm water. Remove kernels from whole corn cobs, rough-chop onion and zucchini. Saute onion and zucchini in olive oil until translucent, add the corn and blanched green beans. Cook on low heat for about 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
Situated on Route 90 in Warren, Curtis Meats has been in business for years. I'm routinely met with surprise when I tell people that Curtis is where I often buy meat — since it's also a USDA slaughterhouse it seems not everyone knows that Curtis also boasts a bustling and well-priced retail shop.
Devon and I select a large cut of flank steak from the butcher case. At $6.79 a pound our almost two-and-three-quarter pound piece comes in at $18.60. We're feeding seven but reason the steak — and accompaniments — will provide an ample meal.
After paying for our meat — Curtis does not take credit or debit cards so be sure to plan ahead — we're off to Beth's.
Beth's is another local food stronghold, a farm market with regular hours — 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily from May through December — and is also well-priced with an abundant selection. Since I live in Hope I frequently make the pilgrimage to Beth's for weekend groceries, it's a beautiful drive and has everything I need to make a nutritious locally-sourced meal.
I've noticed this year that Beth's has been packed. Devon and I score a parking space and ogle the wide range of strange and colorful gourds stacked high in bins outside. We grab six ears of corn at .60 cents each and a box of freshly-dug baby red potatoes at $3.79. We add a white onion at .99 cents a pound. Our total comes to about $8 and we each grab a free sample apple. My Cortland tastes of pure, distilled fall.
We purchase two zucchini from Garden Goodness farmstand, for both it costs a dollar.
Back at Devon's she immediately seasons the steak with salt and pepper. She sets it on a sheet pan and explains that it is important to let the meat come to room temperature before cooking it. She said she would never recommend leaving it out for an extended period of time, but 20 minutes in a relatively cool house is just fine. She adds that the meat will be "shocked" if placed on the grill too cold — that shock will cause the meat to release juice and subsequently it be tougher. Just before putting the steak on the grill Devon will pat it dry and re-season it.
"Don't put wet meat on the grill — don't do it man, don't do it," Devon said, shaking her head.
Devon washes and quarters the baby red potatoes, she spreads them evenly on a sheet pan. She seasons with salt and pepper and drizzles olive oil over them before adding a few whole garlic cloves, tossing everything by hand and popping the pan in the oven at 425 degrees.
"Some people want garlic and some don't," Devon explains. "If people don't want garlic then the rest of the batch has been perfumed with it but because of the whole cloves they can pick it out easily."
Devon produces a large ramekin filled with oven roasted tomatoes. She made them in advance and tosses them into a bowl before adding softened butter and vigorously stirring, she places the orange mixture in the refrigerator to stiffen. I have heard her refer to roasted tomatoes as her "obsession."
"You can mix them with mayo for a sandwich spread, cream cheese or sour cream for a dip, or with butter. My personal favorite is roasted tomato butter on toast topped with a fried egg for breakfast," she explains with a smile.
Devon's simple oven roasted tomato recipe — which I have tried successfully at home — involves spreading a sheet pan with olive oil and evenly spaced tomatoes cut into quarters and sprinkled with sea salt. She roasts them for 20 minutes and lets them rest in the warm (but turned-off) oven overnight.
The compound butter — as Devon explains — she makes by the batch and freezes.
"It will keep in the freezer for months and months and months," she notes.
For the succotash Devon blanches fresh green beans from her garden and coarse-chops the onion into a four-quart saucepan doused with olive oil. She chops two medium sized zucchini and adds them, sauteing until translucent. She then adds the corn and blanched green beans and turns the burner down to allow the flavors to meld.
"Succotash traditionally has shell beans or lima beans, but we don't have either of those so we're using green beans," Devon notes.
After firing up her charcoal grill Devon begins to cook the steak. She said a good rule of thumb with cooking meat is to cook for four solid minutes — "don't touch it!" — on one side, then flip and cook for two to three minutes on the second side and removing the steak from heat and letting it rest to produce a "perfect" medium rare.
We spend just under $30, though the green beans and tomatoes are from Devon's garden. The meal feeds seven with ample leftovers.
Courier Publications reporter Jenna Lookner can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at email@example.com.