If Yan Could Cook. . .

Steak with Chimichurri Sauce and Potato Pancakes

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Tri-tip is a cut of beef that, according to Wikipedia, is a “Santa Maria specialty”; the cow is only cut this way in parts of California and Europe. One of my sisters loves tri-tip. Living in the Bay Area, this cut of beef was just another thing she could get at the grocery store, and she was shocked by this internet-derived factoid.

“Imagine,” my other sister said, “if you had never moved to Santa Clara, you never would have tried it.”

While I was there, my brother-in-law grilled some tri-tip and I have to agree it is the perfect degree of lean and fatty for my tastes. He served it with chimicurri sauce at a barbeque, along with a salad that featured tomatoes picked fresh from his garden. We all sat on their porch in the narcotic California sunlight, washing down satisfying slices of meat with beer and lemonade.

Unfortunately for my friends, I could not bring the sun or the beef home with me. Returning to Montreal was a shock: stylishly dressed, statuesque people, constantly rushing, pushing each other out of the way. I was one of the first people to leave the plane, but flowed almost immediately to the back of the crowd, my skin the dirty colour of a hobo tan.

Once I had regained my east coast jadedness, I had my friends over for dinner, to give them a taste of California. Our cows, of course, chain-smoke and bitch about their rent in French, before being more conventionally butchered.


Photo by Laura D’Alessandro.

As I don’t have a grill, or a barbeque, or a broiler, or even a grill pan, I just placed the salted steaks in a frying pan with a thin layer of butter, flipping once and then finishing in the oven. “French cut” inside round steaks worked well, and (almost) enough meat for six people was about $10.

For the chimichurri sauce, I put a full bunch of fresh parsley, a large clove of garlic, a splash of lemon juice, olive-canola oil, salt, pepper, and dried oregano and basil into the blender. Using dry herbs and both the stems and leaves of the parsley gave a slightly mulchy, fibrous texture that I think would be off-putting to some people, but didn’t bother me or my guests. Being liberal with the oil and restricting yourself to only the leaves of fresh herbs would result in a much creamier, gentler, and more expensive sauce.

For the potato pancake bases (my sister also loves grated-potato pancakes; I suppose this whole meal was more of a homage to her than to California), I peeled and grated six small and medium golden russet potatoes with a box grater. These were drained and pressed out with paper towels as much as possible, and then I added some finely chopped yellow onion, salt, and one egg. I fried patties made up of about 1/3 of a cup of this mixture in oil.

The green beans were plain, just blanched in boiling water.

Even though we ate it in the darkness of a city evening, at a dining table with wine, some crucial element remained the same to me, some taste of sun and sea.

My meals seem to be getting less complicated while my platings get more elaborate. As I already suspected, I may be a lazy chef who tries to compensate with design.

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Written by skimfu

September 9, 2008 at 1:28 am

Posted in Beef

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