Skirt steak makes me think of France and plenty of pommes frites, or the American West with a kiss of mesquite, but I never thought of skirt steak, or any beef for that matter, in connection with Puerto Rico. But there I was during a recent trip, eating skirt steak and loving it.
Perhaps it was the relative tenderness of the beef, or perhaps it was the sofrito, a savory blend of pureed peppers, onions, cilantro and garlic used in the Caribbean as a seasoning base or marinade. This medley of flavors brought out a delectable smokiness in the beef.
Making a Puerto Rican-style steak is easy at home. Use a skirt steak if you can find it, or substitute a flank steak or a cut with good flavor and gutsy texture.
My butcher volunteered to score a flank steak on both sides (earning my undying loyalty for taking the extra step). Scoring helps tenderize the beef and allows the sofrito to penetrate deep for fuller flavor.
Marinate the meat at least 30 minutes before cooking. Go longer when you can, to 2 or 3 hours, for a fuller flavor.
This recipe makes 2 cups of sofrito. Use 1 cup for this recipe and refrigerate or freeze the remainder for use in another dish, like sauteed chicken.
Makes 4 servings
1 each, cut into 1-inch pieces: onion, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, cored, seeded
1 bunch cilantro or flat-leafed parsley
6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound flank steak, scored on both sides
For sofrito, puree onion, bell peppers, cilantro and garlic in a food processor; add olive oil, salt and pepper. If you lack a food processor, mince the sofrito ingredients into a rough paste or chop the vegetables into small pieces, place in blender with olive oil and puree.
Spread 1 cup of the sofrito over the flank steak, working the puree into the meat's crosshatching with your fingers. Allow the meat to marinate for at least 30 minutes; 2 to 3 hours is best.
Prepare a grill or broiler; grill or broil the meat to the desired doneness, about 8 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest 5 minutes; slice.
Per serving: 238 calories; 12 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 54 milligrams cholesterol; 9 grams carbohydrate; 23 grams protein; 1,236 milligrams sodium; 2 grams fiber
- Recipe and analysis from the Chicago Tribune, a Tribune Publishing newspaper
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