Tailgate cooking~

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Grilling for Game Day

It’s football season and that means tailgating and game day food! But hot dogs and hamburgers can get old after awhile—along with bagged chips and dip.

My “Tailgating Grilled Steak Salad or Sandwich” recipe gives you two options on how to serve this single recipe and it gets some fresh flavors and food on your table, too. For the sandwich, the salad tops the grilled meat as a “lettuce” and grilling the buns adds an additional layer of smoky grill goodness. As a salad, it makes a great presentation on the tailgate serving table, giving people the option of going a “little lighter” in reducing their carb load by going without bread. Hmm, tailgating usually means beer, so you’ll get enough carbs without stacking bread on top of it!

Marinating London Broil, an inexpensive cut of meat, in lemon oil, garlic, rosemary and olive oil, gives it a great flavor and gives you control over the ingredients in your marinade. Commercial marinades are often loaded with sodium and can often turn your meat into a salt lick. When I grill I want to taste the flavor of the meat and the smoke from the grill—not burn out my taste buds with salt overkill.

These recipes are also great for an afternoon cookout with friends or, using a grill pan or cast iron skillet inside on the cooktop, they bring the char of the grill inside on a day when the weather isn’t being so co-operative.

Some tips about London Broil and this recipe:

1. “London Broil” is not really a cut of meat. It is the term referring to a piece of meat that has been grilled or broiled; however most grocery store butchers have begun to label what is really a cut of flank steak as “London Broil.” And, as you’ll see in the recipe, butchers are now labeling “Top Round” or “Top Sirloin” as “London Broil.” If you can’t find “London Broil” in your store’s butcher case, look for “Flank Steak”—same cut of meat.

2. “London Broil” or “Flank Steak” is usually a cheaper cut of meat, meaning that it is a tougher piece of meat containing more sinew and more fat. To help get around this “toughness,” it helps to cook the meat to a medium-rare and, more importantly, to thinly slice the meat on a 45-degree angle, which cuts the grain of the meat by making long fibers into shorter fibers.

3. The marinade for this recipes uses fresh lemon juice, an acid, which has the power to “cook” proteins. You do not want to let the meat marinate for more than 30 to 45 minutes, otherwise the lemon juice will start to “cook” the meat, giving you a tougher piece of meat after grilling. FYI—”Ceviche” is a classic Central and South American dish of thinly sliced raw seafood marinated and “cooked” in acidic fruit juices—lemon being the primary one.

4. There are all kinds of opinions about whether you should salt meat before or after it is cooked. Some opinions say that salting beef before cooking makes it tougher and dryer by pulling out the juice of the meat and others say that it is just fine to salt before cooking. As an example, in Italy, the famous Bistecca Fiorentina is not salted before it is marinated and grilled. It is salted after it is cooked. My opinion? I think is it just fine to salt meat before it is marinated and grilled, though I wouldn’t salt it hours before cooking it. Salted just before adding the marinade, as in the recipe, or salted right before going on the grill doesn’t seem to affect the meat in a big enough way for me to notice. That has been my experience, at any rate.

5. Meat and fruit ~ a great combination. This recipe calls for figs in the salad. I would usually make this salad with strawberries, but since it is fig season at the moment, I opted to use figs. You could also substitute blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or orange slices (Mandarin slices would be nice). Let your taste buds inspire you!

Give these recipes a try and you’ll score a culinary touchdown with your friends and family!

Buon Appetito~

Mark

Tailgating Grilled Steak Salad or Sandwiches

To marinade the steak:

Juice of 1 lemon

Extra virgin olive oil

1 1.5 to 1.75 pound Top Round London Broil steak

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary

2 large cloves garlic, minced

Zest of 1 lemon

For the Salad:

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

20 ounces packaged mixed salad greens

1 small to medium red onion, thinly sliced into half-rounds

1 pound fresh figs, cut into quarters (strawberries may be substituted)

1 hothouse cucumber, thinly sliced

2 (6-ounce) packages Feta cheese

For the Sandwiches:

8 sandwich rolls, cut open, grill or toast the inside cut surfaces.

*Use the same ingredients for the salad, EXCEPT use HALF of the salad ingredient amounts.

To prepare the steak:

In a small bowl, add the lemon juice and 3 times the amount of olive oil as lemon juice. Whisk together. Set aside.

Season both sides of the London Broil with salt and pepper. Place the season steak into a re-sealable plastic bag. Add the rosemary, garlic and lemon zest to the bag. Pour in the lemon juice/oil mixture into the bag, seal the bag and gently toss the meat and the vinaigrette together until evenly coated. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.

Remove the meat from the marinade, discarding the marinade, and place on a hot grill, grilling 7 to 8 minutes. Turn the steak over and grill an additional 7 to 8 minutes. [If you like your steak medium-rare, grill 7 minutes on each side; for medium, grill 8 minutes on each side.] Remove the steak from the grill and allow to rest 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper to make a vinaigrette. Whisk together, taste for seasoning, adjusting salt and pepper as necessary, and set aside. In a large salad bowl add the mixed greens, onion, figs, cucumber and Feta. Pour two-thirds of the vinaigrette over the salad and gently toss to combine. Taste the salad, adding the rest of the vinaigrette if necessary.

To assemble for the salad:

Thinly slice the steak on a 45-degree angle. Arrange the slices on top of the salad, garnishing with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Allow guests to serve themselves or if pre-plating, distribute the salad on dining plates, topping with the steak slices and seasoning with a little salt and grinds of pepper. Serves 8 to 10 entrée-sized salads.

To assemble for the sandwiches:

Thinly slice the steak on a 45-degree angle. Evenly distribute the sliced meat inside each of the grilled or toasted rolls. Top the steak with the salad and close the rolls. Makes 8 sandwiches.

About the Author

Mark LeslieMark Leslie, seen cooking on NBC’s "The Today Show" and Hallmark Channel's "Home & Family," loves to cook for anyone with an appetite, vacations in Italy every year, and lives to eat his way through every plate of pasta and cone of gelato placed before him. His first book, “Beyond the Pasta: Recipes, Language & Life with an Italian Family,” tells of his life in Italy while cooking with an Italian grandmother. He shares his food experiences on his blog at www.beyondthepasta.com and has taught cooking classes in California, Georgia, Minnesota, Texas, and across Alabama. While judging for high school culinary events, he was chosen by the US Department of Education to judge for their "National Education Startup Challenge." Mark can be regularly seen cooking on NBC-affiliate, WSFA-TV 12's "Alabama Live! each Friday, bringing easy, locally sourced recipes to central Alabama. His iTunes app “Beyond the Pasta” features helpful videos and more of Nonna’s family-style recipes that she shared with him, plus, upon its release, it was named “New & Noteworthy” by Apple. DaVinci Wines chose Mark as their "2012 Storyteller" in Language Arts—where they sent him to Vinci, Italy, to write about wine, food and life. Mark, his home and book have been featured in such national publications and blogs as House Beautiful, Paula Deen, Food Republic, The Kitchn, Apartment Therapy, Field & Stream, and The Daily Meal. A Chicago-area native and “Yankee” by birth, Mark has lived in Alabama for over 24 years, and celebrates the fact that he started life eating farina, progressed to grits, and finally arrived at polenta. Buonissimo!View all posts by Mark Leslie →

"Beyond the Pasta" is owned and operated by Mark Leslie. Unless otherwise specified all content, writing, recipes and photography is original and held in copyright through the Library of Congress. It may not be used without the express written consent of Mark Leslie.