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Friday, April 29, 2011

Lemon, Garlic, Oregano, & Olive Oil

Pungent garlic, bright acidic lemon, peppery Greek oregano, and fruity olive oil are essential ingredients in Greek cuisine.  The food is very straightforward,  highlighted by simplicity   Lathorigano, (Latho - oil, rigano - oregano) is a cooking term that refers to the use of oil and oregano in meal preparation.  Lemonata, (lemoni - lemon) is a cooking method  that  predominatly utillizes lemons.  Combining the two creates an intoxicating  flavor profile that I adore.

I had a gorgeous skirt steak from Fresh Market neatly wrapped and tucked away in the meat drawer of the refrigerator that needed to be manhandled. I also had calamari in the freezer that I had previously and painstakingly cleaned by removing the ink, quill, beak, and head.  I decided to combine the two for a Greek riff on surf and turf.
It was embarrassingly simple to throw together.

I bathed a pound of skirt steak  with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, minced garlc,  Greek oregano, chives, salt, and pepper.  After rubbing the marinade into the meat to infuse the flavor, I covered it and sld it into the refrigerator to marinate for a couple of hours, turning it several times to thoroughly coat the meat.

I thawed the calamari and sliced the tubular bodies into thin rings before placing them into the refigerator alongside the marinatiing skirt steak.
For a fresh  pop to the surf and turf, I opted for a classic Greek salad made with sliced Kalamata olives, split grape tomatoes, diced green peppers, slivered purple onions, crumbled feta cheese, and sliced radishes (not traditional). I tossed the vegetables into a mixing bowl and popped them into the refrigerator.

That was it.
15 minutes of  mise en place left plenty of time for wine before dinner.  My kind of prep.

20 minutes before we ate, I brought the skirt steak to room temperature to insure even cooking. 

I did not want to overcook the steak.  It went  fast.  Very fast.
I got my grill pan screaming hot, carefully placed the steak onto the smoking ridges, and grilled the meat exactly 4 minutes per side.   When it was beautifully caramelized, I removed it from the pan and let it rest for 15 minutes.  Resting the meat allowed the juices to redistribute for juicy tenderness.

While the skirt steak took a break, I cranked the deep fryer to 350 degrees. When the oil reached the right temperature, I dusted the calamari with flour and dropped the rings into the sizzling oil to flash fry for 3 minutes. After a quick drain, I showered them with parsley, lemon zest, and sea salt.  On a whim, I repeated the procedure with thick cut vidalia onions rings.  Lent was long gone.  I wanted fried stuff.

I sliced the steak across the grain into thin strips, plated it, and topped it with the fried calamari. After splashing the Greek salad with red wine vinegar and olive oil, I tumbled it around our plates alongside the calamari-draped sliced steak.

Everthing mixed together like a dolled up steak and calamari Greek salad.  Although that was my intent, I coyly protested otherwise. 

The steak was ridiculously tender. The fusion of caramelized lemon juice, garlic, oregano, and olive oil perfumed the skirt steak and permeated it with flavor. Bright lemon acidity cut through the toasted garlic and oregano while the olive oil grounded it with velvety mouthfeel. The calamari rings were light, exploding with grassy parsley and zingy lemon zest. Paired with the steak, it was a perfect marriage of land and sea.  Fabulous.

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