What a gorgeous February day this past Saturday was! Pleasantly mild with lots of sunshine that generated temperatures inching toward 60 degrees — did I say February?
Folks were out walking in shirt sleeves, kids biking, shooting hoops, playing in puddles while whiffs of burning brush wafted through the air and it wasn't a surprise that the aroma of steak grilling spread throughout the neighborhood. Yes, I did say February!
Well, we can't always count on spring-like days in the middle of winter, so what do you do if your hankering for a mouth-watering, perfectly charred steak in the middle of a cold, stormy winter?
Sure, you can still fire up the grill outdoors, but for those who would rather fire up the stove in a toasty warm kitchen, you can still prepare a satisfying steak dinner.
You'll need a cast iron pan for best results or an oven-safe skillet.
Charred Bourbon Flank Steak
1/2 cup bourbon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup Ponzu sauce*
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (You either love it or hate it; leave out if you hate it.)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup water
flank steak, any weight
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
*Ponzu is a Japanese, citrusy, seasoned soy sauce and condiment used to flavor seafood, grilled meats and vegetables with a good balance of salty, sweet and tangy. It's available in specialty markets and supermarkets; the most familiar brand being Kikkoman. Plain soy sauce can be substituted, but will not impart the extra spark the Ponzu provides.
In a shallow glass dish, combine marinade ingredients; add meat turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to six hours continuing to turn the steak several times while marinating. The longer it marinates, the better the flavor.
Remove steak from marinade, pat dry with paper towels and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Pat dry again before cooking. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil, swirling to coat. When oil is just at smoking point, using tongs, add steak to pan and cook two or three minutes on each side until a nice darkened crust has formed. Cast iron handles get HOT — don't forget to have a potholder in hand and turn on the exhaust fan. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook steak until an instant-read thermometer reads to desired doneness, anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes; for medium-rare, 140 degrees, and for medium, 155 degrees. Remove steak from pan to a cutting surface, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing across the grain of the meat at a steep angle and serving.
So there you have it — a tasty steak for a snowy day!
Robin Anish is a former caterer who lives in Lenox, Mass., where she continues to cater to her enthusiasm for cooking.