As I was just cooking for two, I prepared one 1-pound flat iron steak. I brushed the steak with extra virgin olive oil using two branches of fresh rosemary and then seasoned with salt and pepper. I grilled the steak with the rosemary branches on top of the steak to infuse more flavor. Once the steak was done, it rested for approximately five minutes and then it was sliced across the grain and topped with the sundried tomato sauce.
The combination was delicious. I found the lemon juice brightened the tomatoes taming their intense flavor. The sauce was flavorful and enhanced the steak’s meaty flavor.
Recently I purchased some beef stew meat that was on special at Whole Foods. This past Sunday was a chilly, damp day that called for a nice hearty meal. I came upon a recipe at the NYT Cooking app by Mark Bittman for Beef Stew with Prunes. Now before you turn your nose up, this dish was outstanding. The prunes literally cooked down right into the sauce. The combination of ingredients gave the sauce a wonderful, rich flavor.
For the recipe you’ll need olive oil, boneless beef cubes, salt, pepper, an onion, plum tomatoes, sweet paprika, a cinnamon stick (I used a teaspoon of ground cinnamon), a bay leaf, chicken stock, red wine, sugar (I substituted a fresh carrot) and sherry vinegar.
Based on the comments submitted by readers, I made adjustments as noted above. One reader substituted a sweet potato in place of sugar. Another reader left the sugar out completely as they felt the dried prunes offered enough sugar. Another reader used their Instant Pot as described below:
“Step 1: Used "sauté" Step 2: Used "sauté" first; after adding the meat, used pressure for 30 mins. Step 3: Released pressure. Added prunes, used "sauté" to simmer w/o lid for ~15 mins to decrease liquid. Meat still seemed a little tough. Used pressure for 20 mins and natural pressure released.”
I used my pressure cooker. Where the recipe calls for simmering for 30 minutes on the stovetop, I cooked the meat under pressure for 15 minutes. I released the pressure and added the final ingredients. Back on went the lid and back on the stove. I brought the pressure up again and cooked it another 15 minutes under pressure versus simmering for 30 to 45 minutes. The result was fork tender meat in a rich, complex sauce that had layers of flavor. I served the stew over noodles…yum!
Flat Iron Steak
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Resting Meat: 10 minutes
Total time: 47 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
2 (1 pound each) flat iron steaks
Olive oil, fine sea salt, freshly cracked pepper
Sun-dried tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (packed in oil and herbs), gently packed to measure
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (~1 large lemon)
1/2 cup oil (I use all the oil from the tomatoes container and then use extra virgin olive oil for the rest of the 1/2 cup)
Corn & Zucchini Salad
2 ears (14 ounces) sweet corn shucked
2 small (14 ounces) zucchini stems removed and halved horizontally
1 large lemon
1 cup cherry tomatoes halved or quartered
Parmesan cheese Freshly shaved
3-4 tablespoons fresh basil
PREPARE INGREDIENTS: Preheat grill to medium-high heat (400-450 degrees F.) Shuck corn. Remove stems and halve zucchinis lengthwise. Halve or quarter cherry tomatoes, depending on their size. Halve both lemons; juice one of the lemons to get 1/4 cup juice and set the other two lemon halves aside to grill. Rub or brush (with a pastry brush) corn and zucchini with olive oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper (I add about 1 to 1/2 tablespoons oil and about 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper).
CORN ZUCCHINI SALAD: Prepare the preheated grill by cleaning with a grill brush. Generously oil the grill (I drench a rolled-up paper towel in vegetable oil and, holding it with tongs, rub it over the grill grates). Add corn and zucchini. Cook zucchini about 2-3 minutes, flip and cook another 2-3 minutes or until lightly charred and crisp-tender. Cook the corn, rotating about every 2-3 minutes (a total of 4 rotations) until charred, bright yellow, and crisp-tender about 10-12 minutes total. Grill lemon halves flesh side down for 2-3 minutes or until charred. Transfer vegetables to a cutting board to cool slightly. Slice corn off the cob and add to a large bowl. Cut zucchini into thin half moons and add to the bowl with the corn. Add in the cherry tomatoes, Parmesan cheese (to taste), and fresh basil (rip or cut into ribbons). Add in the juice from one half of the grilled lemon (about 2 tablespoons) and some additional olive oil (about 1 to 2 tablespoons). Toss and taste, adjust seasonings by adding any additional salt, pepper, or oil.
COOK STEAKS: While vegetables and lemon are grilling, pat steaks dry with paper towel and rub with olive oil (about 1/2 tablespoon per steak). Season both sides generously (or to taste) with salt and pepper (I add about 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt per steak). Add steaks to the fully heated grill and cook until charred and medium rare (or to temperature preference, medium rare highly recommend) about 4-5 minutes per side. (For 1-pound steaks, medium rare generally takes 4 minutes per side); use a food thermometer for precision (see temperatures in post). Transfer steaks to a plate to rest for about 5-10 minutes, tented with foil. Transfer to a cutting board and cut across the grain as thinly as possible (this makes sure the meat is tender!)
SAUCE: While steaks grill, finely mince garlic and coarsely chop the sundried tomatoes. Add garlic and tomatoes to a small blender or food processor. Add in the 1/4 cup lemon juice and salt and pepper (I add about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper) and pulse until ingredients are chopped. Slowly drizzle in the oil (I use all the oil from the sundried tomatoes container and fill up the rest of the 1/2 cup with regular oil) and pulse until emulsified and a chunky sauce has formed. Taste and adjust seasoning.
ASSEMBLE: Add thinly sliced steak to plates (1/2 steak per plate). Divide the corn-and-zucchini salad among the plates. Spoon the sauce evenly on the steaks. Garnish the dish with additional Parmesan. Cut the remaining half of the grilled lemon into wedges and add one wedge to each plate. Squeeze lemon over before enjoying!
Beef Stew with Prunes
By Mark Bittman
Featured in: The Minimalist; A Braised Winter
The New York Times, December 10, 2003
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 2 hours
Salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 plum tomatoes, stemmed and chopped (canned are fine)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika, more to taste
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup pitted prunes
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or other vinegar, or to taste
Chopped parsley leaves for garnish
1. Place a deep skillet or casserole that can be covered over medium-high heat, and add oil. Brown meat well on all sides, seasoning with salt and pepper, for 10 minutes; remove with a slotted spoon.
2. In same pot over medium-high heat, sauté onion and tomatoes with a large pinch of salt and some pepper. When they soften, about 5 minutes, stir in paprika, cinnamon, and bay leaf. Return meat to pan, and add stock and wine; bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. If mixture starts to dry, add a little water or stock.
3. Remove cinnamon and bay leaf, and stir in sugar and prunes. Simmer until prunes and meat are soft, another 30 to 45 minutes. (Dish can be made in advance to this point; let sit for a few hours, or cover and refrigerate for up to a day before reheating and proceeding.) When meat is very tender, uncover pot and add vinegar; if necessary, raise heat so sauce thickens and becomes glossy. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve hot, garnished with parsley.
Yield: 4 servings
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A former teacher, shop-a-holic, empty-nester redefining quick, family approved dinners.