Milk Street Argentina Favorites (Ep 422)
Oven-Perfect Strip Steak with Chimichurri
Start to finish: 1 1/4 hours (15 minutes active), plus refrigeration
Servings: 4 to 6
This recipe uses the gentle, controlled heat of the oven to replicate the “reverse sear” technique Argentinians use when grilling beef. Rather than start the steak over high heat to brown, then finish over low heat, the steaks start in a cool oven, then finish with a quick sear in either a blistering-hot cast-iron skillet or on a grill. The result is steak with a deep, flavorful crust that's evenly cooked throughout, not overdone at the surface and just-right at only the core. We call for strip steaks (also called strip loin or New York strip), but bone-in or boneless ribeyes work well, too, as long they're 1½ to 2 inches thick. We learned to season cuts of beef with nutmeg at La Carbrera in Buenos Aires; the spice doesn't leave a distinct flavor of its own but rather enhances the steaks' meatiness and smoky notes.
Don't use preground nutmeg. For best flavor, purchase whole nutmeg and grate it yourself. You could use a grater made specifically for nutmeg, but a fine wand-style grater also works well.
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated nutmeg (from 2 whole nutmegs)
- 2 teaspoons white sugar
- Two 20-ounce strip steaks (each about 2 inches thick), patted dry
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. In a small bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons salt, 1 tablespoon pepper, the nutmeg and sugar. Measure out and reserve 2 teaspoons of the seasoning mixture, then rub the remainder onto all sides of the steaks, pressing it into the meat. Place the steaks on the prepared rack and refrigerate uncovered for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
Heat the oven to 250°F with a rack in the middle position.
Place the baking sheet with the steaks in the oven and cook until the centers reach 110°F, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for up to 30 minutes.
In a 10- or 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Place the steaks in the skillet and cook, without moving them, until well browned, about 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip the steaks and cook until the second sides are well browned and the centers reach 120°F (for medium-rare), 2 to 3 minutes. Alternatively, the steaks can be seared for the same time over direct heat on a very hot charcoal or gas grill with a well-oiled grate.
Transfer the steaks to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes, then cut into thin slices. Place on a platter, pour on the accumulated juices and sprinkle with the reserved seasoning mixture. Drizzle with a few spoonfuls of chimichurri and serve with additional chimichurri on the side.
Start to finish: 15 minutes, plus cooling | Makes 1½ cups
This recipe can easily be halved, but if you're like us, you'll find uses other than steak for this delicious condiment; we also like it on grilled pork, fish and other seafood. Chimichurri can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week; bring to room temperature before serving.
Don't substitute fresh oregano. The stronger flavor and texture of dried oregano are hallmarks of chimichurri.
- ¾ cup neutral oil
- ¼ cup sweet paprika
- ¼ cup red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup dried oregano
- 2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar Kosher salt
In a small saucepan over low, combine the oil, paprika, pepper flakes and oregano. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to bubble, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the garlic. Let cool to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt, then stir until the salt dissolves. Slowly whisk in the cooled oil mixture.
Shaved Carrot Salad with Poppy Seeds and Parsley (Zanahorias Dulces)
Start to finish: 30 minutes (15 minutes active) | Servings: 4
This colorful, eye-catching salad is our version of one that we sampled in Buenos Aires. The flavors are salty, sweet and tangy, with nutty notes from toasted poppy seeds and grassiness from fresh parsley. A sharp Y-style vegetable peeler works well for shaving the carrots into ribbons, but you also can use a mandoline. Either way, choose large, thick carrots—not the slender variety sold in bunches—because they're easier to shave. And stop shaving once you reach the fibrous cores. Carrots vary in sweetness, so you may need to add a little extra sugar, lemon juice and/or salt at the end to find just the right flavor balance.
Don't overcook the carrots in the microwave. The ribbons should be wilted but still have texture; they shouldn't be completely tender and limp. And be sure to let the carrots stand for 15 minutes after dressing to absorb the flavors.
- 4 or 5 large carrots (about 1½ pounds), peeled
- Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 2 star anise pods
- ¼ cup lemon juice, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon white sugar, plus more as needed
- ½ cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, torn if large
INSTRUCTIONS Use a Y-style peeler or a mandoline to shave the carrots from top to bottom into long, wide ribbons, rotating as you go. Stop shaving when you reach the core; discard the cores. Put the ribbons in a large, microwave-safe bowl and toss with ¾ teaspoon salt. Cover and microwave on high until wilted but still crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes, stirring once halfway through; set aside, uncovered, leaving any liquid in the bowl.
In a small saucepan over medium, toast the poppy seeds, stirring often, until fragrant and slightly darker in color, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. In the same saucepan over medium, heat the oil, garlic and star anise, stirring occasionally, until the garlic begins to brown at the edges, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce to low, add the lemon juice and sugar, then whisk until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking occasionally, for 3 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic and star anise.
Pour the warm dressing over the carrots and toss. Let stand for 15 minutes. Add the poppy seeds and parsley, then toss again. Taste and season with salt, lemon juice and/or sugar, then transfer to a serving dish.
Caramelized Pork with Orange and Sage
Start to finish: 25 minutes | Servings: 6
Also known as raw sugar, coarse turbinado sugar maintained its crunch under the broiler, giving this pork its crackly crust. Wide strips of fragrant orange peel, coarsely chopped, added flavor and texture (a Y-style peeler was the best tool for zesting). Gently pounding the tenderloin ensured a flat surface for the sugar mixture to adhere; the best way to apply the crust was to arrange the seared pork pieces side-by-side on a plate and press the mixture onto the surface before returning them to the skillet. If the sugar gets too dark before the meat comes to temperature, turn off the oven; the pork will finish cooking in the residual heat. Be sure to season the pork liberally on both sides with salt and pepper before searing it.
Don't tent the pork with foil after removing it from the oven. It will lose its candy-like crust. For the same reason, don't spoon the sauce over it. Instead, serve the pork set over pools of sauce on individual plates.
- 2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed, cut into 6 pieces
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- ½ cup turbinado sugar
- 3 strips orange zest, chopped (1 tablespoon), plus ½ cup orange juice (1 to 2 oranges)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage, divided
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
INSTRUCTIONS Heat the broiler to high with a rack 6 inches from the element. Pat the pork dry, then use a meat mallet or a small heavy skillet to gently flatten the pieces to an even 1-inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, use your fingers to rub together the sugar, orange zest, 1 tablespoon of the sage and the cayenne. Set aside.
In a 12-inch broiler-safe skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until just beginning to smoke. Add the pork and cook until deep golden brown on one side, about 3 minutes. Transfer the pork browned side up to large plate; reserve the skillet. Use your hands to press the sugar mixture onto the tops of the pork pieces in even layer. Return to the skillet, sugar side up. Set under the broiler until the meat registers 135ºF at the center and the sugar mixture is golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Transfer to a carving board and let rest.
Meanwhile, return the skillet to medium-high heat on the stovetop. Add the orange juice and remaining 1 tablespoon of sage and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the sauce is syrupy, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the vinegar. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve the pork over the sauce.
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