This post is more about a technique than an actual recipe, though I'll share bits and bobs at the end of course. The more I cook, the more I want to cook better. I was made aware of this when I started reading Thomas Keller's "Ad Hoc At Home" cookbook. It's a behemoth, man. The thing is a serious weapon, in more ways than one. I remember Thomas instructing me not to cut corners, to follow the instructions in the recipes to the letter (at least the first time, until I was comfortable with it) and not to settle for anything less then perfection. I'll admit I found that a little (okay, maybe a lot) intimidating and I doubted I'd ever be a serious enough cook to want that.
Well, I was wrong. I want that. I want that because cooking well = eating well. What is the point of hitting up Whole Foods and other gourmet stores if I don't care enough about the ingredients (which I'll pay a pretty penny for) to cook them right?
It's kind of hard to mess up a good piece of meat and vegetables on the grill. A little olive oil, salt and pepper and high heat and you're singing to yourself and pouring another glass of wine and enjoying the best day ever. I'd never thought of trying to top that, until I got my July Bon Appetit magazine in the mail. Thank you, Eric Ripert for proving to me that I've got a long ways to go yet. His technique for grilling steak and vegetables on the grill is so simple but the end result was the best steak and vegetables I'd ever had ... times ten!
Enter the plancha. Plancha means "grilled on a metal plate" and I've known for some time now that it makes grilling certain vegetables on a grill much easier than balancing them precariously on the grates of said grill. Flipping through the pages of my new BA magazine I was thrilled to discover Eric Ripert using a plancha (technically he was using 16-inch square untreated slate tiles from a home-improvement store) not only for his vegetables but for fist-thick porterhouse steaks. Sign me up!
I went with rib eye because it's my favorite cut, but the key here isn't so much the cut, it's what happens to the steak with a little seasoning (the herbes de Provence is key - do not skip that part) and a searing-hot surface which creates a fantastic crust over the ENTIRE SURFACE OF THE MEAT. An additional bonus: because the meat never touches the fire (anyone else experience occasional flare-ups on the grill from fatty meats?) you don't have to worry about unintentionally burning the steak.
Eric calls for simply dressing your vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper which will perfectly transform your fresh veggies from fantastic to fabulous. That being said, I'd recently come across a spicy, citrusy Japanese marinade for grilled tomatoes that sent me over the moon. I knew the next time I grilled vegetables I had to use that marinade, so I've included that in this recipe. The secret ingredient is red yuzu kosho ( a citrusy chile sauce). If you can find it, get two bottles of it. I found this through Amazon.com, though the package came straight from Japan. I've included this marinade recipe below, but if the ingredients are hard to find, feel free to go with olive oil and salt and pepper. If you come to my house, though, you're getting the Japanese marinade :).
Below are the details and the play-by-play instructions. Grab whatever's growing in the garden and a nice piece of meat, invite the neighbors or your friends ... or your family if you're feeling generous, and get your sear on!
Plancha-Grilled Rib Eye and Summer Vegetables
(Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit / Eric Ripert)
Olive oil for coating the steak and the plancha (go as heavy or as light as you're comfortable with)
As much steak as you need to feed folks, but try to find a nice, thick cut: 2-2 1/2" thick, at room temperature
Salt and Pepper
Herbes de Provence
Whatever summer vegetables you like to grill - I used carrots, asparagus, green onions, button mushrooms and snap peas.
Recipe - Tadashi Ono's Marinade for Tomatoes and Vegetables
1/4 cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic finely chopped
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp red yuzu kosho
1 tsp sansho (ground szechuan peppercorns)
1 tsp kosher salt
Whisk ingredients together - marinate vegetables in this mixture for at least 15 minutes. Grill!
If using a charcoal grill, prepare for high heat. Place slate (or plancha or cast iron griddle) on grill grates and heat. If using a gas grill, place slate on grates, then heat grill to high (cover grill while heating and grilling). Using paper towels and long-handled tongs, lightly coat your plancha.
Sprinkle steaks with herbes de Provence and season with salt and pepper, pressing gently to adhere. Drizzle each steak with 2 tbsp oil to moisten herbs. Grill on hot plancha until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 115-degrees for medium-rare (the temperature will continue to rise as the steak rests), 10-15 minutes per side. Keep in mind - this is for some pretty thick steaks; 2 - 2 1/2 inches thick. If your steak is thinner, drop 2-3 minutes a side and test with your instant read thermometer. We don't want any overcooked steaks here!
Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest for 20 minutes before slicing. While the steak is resting, cook your vegetables. If using a charcoal grill, coals should have cooled by now to a medium heat. If using a gas grill, reduce heat to medium-high.
Place your marinated vegetables on the hot plancha and grill until browned and tender, 5-8 minutes per side. Some veggies will take longer to cook than others. Transfer to a platter, slice the steak and enjoy!