When I was a kid growing up in Denver, I remember my Dad frequently cooking our dinner on his old charcoal grill. Regardless of the season, the barbecue would always sit uncovered, alone, on our small, backyard patio.
Every few days, Dad would lumber outside to the unit, get the charcoal going and slap down some chicken wings or kebobs. He was a decent griller, dinner was never burned but occasionally the poultry was still pink and needed a few more minutes.
Years later, my Mom bought my Dad a new gas grill for his birthdays, the first gas grill he had ever owned. He was ecstatic.
Many of us have great memories about grilling, whether with family or friends, in the backyard, at the beach or in the mountains. It’s Americana. It’s what we do in the summer in Colorado.
So, in that spirit, I have heartily volunteered to keep “Cooking with No Dough” going this summer, with a strong emphasis, as usual, on easy and affordable eats. But, I also want to emphasize grilling, whipping up cold dishes for hot days and using fresh, local ingredients.
This week, I began with flank steak. Rather, I began with finding someone who had a grill. While I have used the grill at the folks’ place, I’ve never owned one. (Note to self, a food columnist should probably own her own grill, however small and cheap it may be.)
Alas, my editor, Dave McSwane, said “come on over!” A few days ago I bought some flank steak at King Soopers. About three pounds, at a cost of less than $20 total, fed four of us. Flank steak can sometimes be a bit pricey because there’s a limited amount of this cut on the cow.
Before arriving at Dave’s, I marinated the steaks overnight in soy sauce and lemon juice, reminiscent of a tip from my Dad. It makes for a tender, tasty entr/e.
Dave’s grill was a challenge. In addition to being the small and cheapest gas unit ever created, the temperature settings ranged only from “hot to not-so-hot.”
After letting it heat up for about 10 minutes, I first placed on the grate an aluminum package of cubed red potatoes tossed in olive oil, fresh chopped garlic, Italian seasoning, dry rosemary and a bit of ground, dry mustard. Those needed about 30 minutes to become tender.
About 20 minutes after starting the spuds, I placed the flanks on the grill for about five minutes a side – shooting for medium rare. I sliced the tender steak into long strips and we ate. Added to the plate for a touch of sweetness (for health’s sake?) were some fresh pineapple chunks.
In the next few weeks, after I get my own grill and the tool that cores pineapples, I’ll map out some great directions on grilling fruit.
Until then, dust of the barbecue or, like me, find a friend that has one and appreciates free food and a personal chef. Grilling, barbecuing (yeah purists, I know there’s a difference but bear with me), just cooking and eating outside in the Colorado summer is wonderful. And, with paper plates and big trash can, there’s hardly any cleanup.
If you have any recipes or ideas you want me to research or respond to, please drop me a line.
L’Chaim and B’Tay Avon (to life and eat well).
Lemon juice (fresh is best but bottled is ok for a quick short cut)
Marinate in equal parts soy sauce and lemon juice overnight. Toss on the grill and let them cook for five minutes on each side. Enjoy!
When slicing the flank steak, cut against the grain for a tender slice. Cutting with the grain will only make it chewy.
Many people have different techniques for juicing a lemon, I personally roll it along the counter, slice it in half and then juice. Other people put the lemon in the microwave for 15 seconds to “loosen” the juice.