Monday, March 28, 2011

Salad for Carnivores

NY Strip (top) and Sirloin, both recommended by butcher Nick Ochs for searing, slicing and serving atop salads
Perhaps "Steak Salad" sounds like a contradiction in terms.  Steak, obviously, appeals to the carnivores among us, robust and hardy eaters who seek the rich and satisfying experience of tucking into a slab of animal protein.  Devout carnivores often refer to salad as "rabbit food."    We get that.  We certainly have our carnivorous tendencies.  During the winter, however, when meat is often accompanied by rich gravies, mashed potatoes, or sauced noodles, we found that there was a consequence to such heady indulgence.  Bulky winter sweaters and jackets hide a multitude of dietary sins, and it has become apparent that we must now repent.

But repentance need not be wholly unpleasant, as you've seen by recent posts on spring salads.  The key for us is to go heavy on the fresh produce, and top it with a flavorful serving of lean, well seasoned meat or fish.  We forgo the carbs when possible, but nothing in the extreme.

Speaking of avoiding dietetic extremism, we loved the Inquirer article on the growing trend toward  "Flexitarianism."   These are people who eat vegetarian sometimes, meat sometimes, and generally well all the time.  Betting that these Flexies spend a lot of time at the Reading Terminal Market! 
Speaking of, the Market provides everything you need for this carnivorous salad; hit the butchers and the produce merchants for ingredients. 
And now,  back to the steak.....

We had a chat with butcher Nick Ochs about what steak he would recommend to sear and slice for the top of a steak salad.  He recommended a NY Strip for its excellent flavor and texture, and also suggested sirloin as a slightly less expensive option.  Nick advised us to look for 'marbling', that is, the thin ribbons of fat that run through the meat; these melt when the meat cooks, enhancing flavor and maintaining moisture.  He also advised us to salt the steak after cooking, because salt draws the juices out, and dries the meat before it cooks.  He said to watch for excessive gristle, i.e. the thick lines of fat found through and around the meat, and also directed us to cut the meat across the grain for maximum tenderness. 

So, to make a fabulously simple steak salad for 2....

1 NY Strip, approx 12 oz.
cracked black pepper
garlic powder
salt to taste (after cooking)
Baby arugula patiently awaiting dressing and steak

6 cups baby arugula or mixed greens
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 garlic powder
freshly ground pepper to taste

Rub steak with pepper and garlic powder, and let it come to room temperature before cooking.  Heat broiler, grill, or skillet, and sear steak, 3 minutes per side for medium rare.  Remove steak from heat, salt to taste, and tent with foil for about 10 minutes.  While the steak sits, assemble the salad.  This can be done right in the salad bowl; no need for blenders or cruets with this concoction.  Simply dump the leaves into the bowl, sprinkle the dressing ingredients atop and toss thoroughly.  Slice the steak as Nick directs above, and lay it atop the salad.  Bon appetit.

Note:  The Ginger Flank Steak we shared during our ginger phase last fall would also work well atop a salad, especially if you drizzle it with Ginger Miso Dressing. 

And with all this talk of spring, we couldn't resist posting a related clip from The Producers.......Mel Brooks again, I know, but he cracks me up.  Enjoy.

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