Weekly Winner:  Seriously Spiced Steak and One Crazy Korean Pasta Salad

You can’t go wrong putting a marinated flank steak on the grill, right?  I mean, you can pretty much marinate it in anything, throw it on a hot grill and you’re going to have a great meal (and hopefully leftovers afterward).  And pasta salad is a very common accompaniment to anything on the grill.  It’s a barbecue staple.  This pasta salad, however is the craziest version I’ve ever put together. There were things in this salad that I never could have imagined putting together in any kind of dish.  I mean, squash, pineapple, and …. peas???  With mayonnaise?  But you know what?  It worked!

Gochujang Flank Steak and Korean Pasta Salad is not for people with timid taste buds.  The steak has some nice subtle heat, but the pasta salad is very spicy. That’s where the pineapple and mayonnaise really works their magic to help cool down the fire in your mouth. But its an addictive heat and can be mitigated by using less gochujang (which I actually might do next time).

The recipe comes from Food & Wine, and if you really want to shake up your next cookout and spice things up a bit, this is your recipe. The recipe calls for cooking the flank steak in a skillet on the stove. That seems sacrilegious to me.  Fire up the grill and let that thing rip!

Gochujang Flank Steak and Korean Pasta Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

STEAK:

6 Tbsp gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)

3 Tbsp mirin

1 Tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

4 garlic cloves

1 Tbsp chopped peeled fresh ginger

1 2-lb flank steak

1 Tbsp canola oil

PASTA SALAD:

1 lb fusilli

1 cup mayonnaise

3 Tbsp gochujang

3 Tbsp fresh lime juice

1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise

1 medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise

1 8-inch long slice of pineapple (from 1 peeled, quartered and cored whole pineapple)

1 Tbsp canola oil

1 cup thawed frozen peas

3 scallions, thinly sliced

Kosher salt

Procedure:

  1. Make the Steak – In a blender, puree the gochujang with the mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger until smooth.  Put the flank steak in a large resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 6 hours.  Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, make the Pasta Salad –In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the fusilli until al dente.  Drain and rinse under cold water until cool; drain well.  In a large bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the gochujang and lime juice until smooth.  Fold in the fusilli.
  3. Heat a large cast-iron skillet.  Lightly brush the zucchini, squash and pineapple with 1 tablespoon of the oil and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until charred and tender, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a work surface and let cool.  Cut the vegetables and fruit into 1/2-inch pieces and add to the pasta.  Fold in the peas and scallions and season with salt.
  4. Grill the Steak – Remove the steak from the marinade, letting the excess drip off, and grill over a moderately high heat, turning once until desired degree of doneness
  5. Transfer the steak to a work surface and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice steak and serve with the pasta salad.
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Weekly Winner:  “Old Clothes” never tasted so good.

Yep, that’s what we ate this weekend.  Old Clothes.  It was better than you might expect.  Actually, it was Ropa Vieja the Cuban stewed beef recipe which means “Old Clothes”.  I suspect that’s because everything is stewed and shredded like rags.  Very tasty rags, I might add.

There is a fabulous Cuban restaurant by us which obviously has Ropa Vieja on the menu.  I’ve had it there and it is incredible, but I always assumed it was a long, laborious affair to make. That, and I’ve never found a good recipe for it.  Then I come across a slow cooker version and lo and behold…. I’m hooked! This is truly a succulent dish.  A bit sweet, a bit salty, but all around wonderful.

The recipe comes from Cooking Light Magazine and you couldn’t ask for a cozier dish on a cool November night.  Just as you’d reach for your favorite old sweatshirt to get comfy, I’ll “reach” for this dish again and again.

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja

serves 6

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1-1/2 lb flank steak

3/4 tsp kosher salt, divided

1/2 tsp ground black pepper, divided

1 cup sliced white onion

1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup golden raisins

1 cup beef stock

3 Tbsp tomato paste

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

1/3 cup pimiento-stuffed olives, halved

hot cooked rice for serving. (The original recipe called for only 3 cups — you’ll definitely want more if you’re serving 6!)

Procedure:

  1. Coat a 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray
  2. Heat 2 tsps oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Cut steak into quarters.  Sprinkle steak evenly with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper; add steak to pan.  Cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned.  Transfer steak to slow cooker.  Add remaining 1 tsp oil, onion, bell peppers and garlic to pan; cook 3 minutes or until slightly softened, stirring occasionally.  Stir in raisins; transfer onion mixture to slow cooker.
  3. Combine stock, tomato paste, cumin, oregano, tomatoes, remaining 1/2 tsp salt, and remaining 1/4 tsp black pepper in a medium bowl.  Pour tomato mixture over steak and vegetables in slow cooker.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours and 15 minutes or until steak is very tender.
  5. Remove steak from cooker; shred using 2 forks.  Stir steak and olives into sauce.  Serve steak mixture over rice.