Chuck steak with Chimichurri

We usually eat a lot of chicken and pork, but I try to also alternate between either fish or red meat once every other week. Chuck steak is usually the most affordable, so I searched recipes once I realized it was on sale.

I found a great recipe here for the chimichurri. (Chimichurri is like a Mexican pesto.) The only thing I did differently was substituted dry oregano instead of fresh. Whenever you use dry herbs, it is more concentrated. So I only used about 1/2-3/4 teaspoon. I also used black pepper instead of white. A tip: It might look runny at first. If you want it thicker, let it sit in the fridge for awhile.

I took out my raw meats cutting board and seasoned the steaks on both sides with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and paprika.

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I always get nervous if I have to do any sort of butchering, because I am completely lost when it comes to the correct methodology. The only thing I really know about portioning steak is that you’re supposed to cut “against the grain”, but honestly? I never really know whether I’m doing it right or not.
Whatever the case, these steaks were delicious and tender, so the way I did it must’ve been fine.  🙂

Since it’s been a seemingly perpetual polar vortex around here lately, I couldn’t grill these outdoors, so out came the grill pan again. Remember if you’re using this to keep your hood/oven fan on, a window cracked if possible, and a ceiling fan on standby in case things get smoky.

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Grill for maybe 6-8 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the steaks. We like them cooked medium rare over here, and this was just about perfect.

If you’re new to cooking steak, here are a few tips:
1. Let the meat come to room temperature before you begin cooking. This way it will cook more evenly.
2. Be sure to start with a sizzling hot pan. You can test it by flicking a bit of water on the pan with your fingers.  If it sizzles loudly, it’s ready.
3. Set it and leave it alone. If you keep moving it, poking it, or squishing it down (don’t do that!) it will either take too long to cook or you’ll squeeze all the yummy juices out. Flip only once, unless you’re trying to get grill marks – then you can flip four times total to get the desirable criss-cross pattern. Usually, if it’s sticking to the pan, it means you are trying to flip it too soon (unless of course it’s smoking and steaming… then it’s possible you just didn’t grease your pan properly).
4. You can time your cooking to have an idea of when it’s finished; but I’ve found the best way to tell if it’s finished cooking is by how it FEELS. This takes some practice. Raw, room temperature meat is very squishy and limp. Well done steak (overcooked) will curl out at the edges and be extremely firm to the touch (with tongs or a finger). It will almost look like it’s ballooned out or swollen. For medium rare, it should begin to firm up on the outside edges, top, and bottom. The middle should not be soft, but it should still be springy. (Don’t you love all my official terminology?!)

Once the steak is finished, let it sit for a few minutes before cutting. If you skip this step, the juices will run out of the meat and it will be dry. I plated mine, sliced it, and spooned the chimichurri over top.

imageI’ve been wanting to try quinoa for awhile, and this seemed like the right time. I was able to use OHI to make it more interesting. (Read more about the marathon cooking session I had here.) My eldest, A, had requested creamed spinach, so I made that too. Lastly, I love avocado, especially with beef. I included some on my plate because it cut through the saltiness of the chimichurri when I ate them together.

Delish!!

Use the leftovers for some great Second Meals: steak wraps, steak salad, or a burrito bowl.

Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa and Coconut Rice

The smell of fish cooking reminds me of vacations in Florida visiting my grandparents. My grandpa out on the screened-in porch grilling, maybe simultaneously smoking a cigar, while Mom and Grandma chatting away while prepping a side dish or two in the kitchen. And us helping set the dining table.

These are the memories that flooded my head as I grilled up some Mahi Mahi yesterday night – indoors, on my grill pan, while outside the window there was gray 40º weather. Different setting altogether. But I could care less, because the memories and that SMELL transported me and made me so happy!

This is one of those meals, because of those early marriage cooking days, that I look at and think, “Did I do that?!”

I usually pull from a recipe but adjust it a little. In this case I pulled from multiple recipes, so contrary to my normal posts, I will be including the actual recipe for you.

Let’s start with the salsa, because that’s what I prepped ahead of time.
SALSA
1 mango, chopped
1/4 diced red onion
4-5 strips of red pepper, diced
1/4 cup or so cooked sweet corn (I used the microwavable frozen kind –OHI– but I’m sure fresh off the cob would be even better)
Juice from half a lime
Dash salt

Combine all ingredients and stir. Adjust to taste. Easy! I wouldn’t change a thing.
Except…
Well, here’s an opportunity to explain my view of kid-friendly. To me, kid-friendly means the meal is prepared in bite-size, easy to eat portions. It can also mean adjusting to their spice tolerance. Next time, per my daughter’s request, I will add yellow and orange peppers. Maybe even omit the red, or just use less, because as she pointed out, the yellow and orange are sweeter. Another change I might make: substituting yellow or white onion, and maybe even lightly sautéing them with the peppers before adding to the salsa. But for adults, this original recipe was PERFECT.
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‘Blackened’ spices for Mahi Mahi
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground mixed peppercorn
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lite coconut milk

Again, combine all ingredients except coconut milk and make a paste. Just before using, add the coconut milk. It will look like a vinaigrette.
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You can use a pastry brush to spread this on your fish (1.25 lbs Mahi Mahi). I dipped the first piece and then just used my finger to spread it. That’s how we do in my kitchen 😉

Now I have to make a side note. I opened the package from the meat counter and realized I forgot to ask them to take the skin off the Mahi. AHHHHHH! I don’t have a filet knife. I’ve never really even learned how to de-skin a fish. (Is that even the right term? I’m sure there’s a more professional culinary term for this but it escapes me at the moment.) Did I panic with the clock tick tick ticking away the time until dinner? Mm. I chose to keep my head and just do it myself. So out came my raw meats cutting board and my paring knife (the best substitution I had). I tried to remember what I’ve ever seen of someone de-skinning a fish on TV. I put one hand on top of the skin and wiggled the knife underneath, to the point of being afraid I was going to slice my upper hand open. Once I had a good portion of the skin off, I started to pull it up so I had a better view underneath it.  Amazingly, I didn’t cut myself at all, the whole time. And I didn’t even butcher them too badly. (I SWEAR, no pun intended. I literally thought this last night when I stood back and surveyed my work.)
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So! Now for the cooking. Heat your grill pan over medium high heat. Spray with a non-stick cooking spray. **One thing I’ve learned from watching cooking show after cooking show is when you are using a grill pan, MAKE SURE IT’S PIPING HOT before you put anything on it, otherwise your stuff will stick. You’ve been warned.**  Place your fish on the grill and cook for “approximately 4 minutes on each side or until desired doneness.” That’s what the recipe said that I based this on. It worked, the fish was SO DELICIOUS. My 5 year old daughter even said, “MOM! You’re right. I DO like this fish! The inside… it’s so moist … and juicy!”
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COCONUT RICE
2 cups dry brown Minute rice
1 1/4 cup lite coconut milk
1 1/2 cup water

Soak your rice in water to remove some of the starchiness, if desired. (Again, this is what the recipe told me to do – but she was using long grain rice and I was using minute rice. I did do it, and I think it did actually help remove some of the dry starchiness, especially since I was using brown rice.) Put the coconut milk and water in your pot and bring to a boil. Add the rice and cook according to package directions. Actually, the package said to bring back to boil, simmer for 5 minutes, and let stand for 5 minutes. I probably let it cook more like 7-10, let it stand, and then reheated it a teensy bit before I plated it. One thing: KEEP A CLOSE EYE ON THIS! Any time I’m boiling milk I pay extra attention, but last night was one of those times that couldn’t be helped… Some of the kids were arguing, or someone got hurt, and I swear even though I only walked away for 90 seconds, my pot was suddenly boiling over. Anyway just watch it, because I had to keep removing the lid to release some steam so it wouldn’t boil over again. (And that’s even using my awesome “sure simmer” function on my electric oven. Yes I love it.)

Guess what? I had the coconut milk, corn, and rice in my OHI, so all I paid for this dinner was probably $10-11. Score!

Now! Spoon some rice onto your plate, top it with a piece of Mahi, and spoon some salsa on top. Done! Now go feed your family some surprisingly easy, joyfully affordable, shockingly healthy, tantalizingly delicious and fresh food!
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