Fiery Cornmeal Crusted New York Strip

A good steak on the grill is hard to beat. And, of course, the best place to start is with a fine piece of meat.

Nowadays, just about every supermarket has fine steaks. And nearly every town of any size also has a specialty shop such as L&M Meats in Grand Forks.

But back when I moved to Grand Forks nearly more than 37 years ago, the choices weren’t that numerous.

Yes, Laddie’s was here, but my favorite places to get a nice chunk of beef were City Produce, which used to be located on Dyke Avenue near the present BNSF yard, and Hoff’s Market, just down the street from the Herald on Second Avenue North.

It was a one of those two establishments that I picked up my first New York strip steak, which is still among my favorite cuts of beef.

Those thoughts came to mind after I saw the following recipe, which features a couple of New York strips that are seasoned with a Southwest Seasoning from McCormick’s Gourmet Collection and are coated with cornmeal

The recipe is billed as low-calorie, low-carbohydrates, low-fat and low-sodium. Combined with a nice piece of meat, it looks mighty enticing.

Fiery Cornmeal Crusted Steak
2 tablespoons McCormick Gourmet Collection Southwest Seasoning
2 tablespoons cornmeal
2 New York strip steaks, ¾-inch thick (about ¾ pound each)
Mix seasoning and cornmeal in shallow dish. Coat steaks generously with cornmeal mixture.
Grill steaks over medium-high heat 1 to 2 minutes per side or until seared. Reduce heat to medium. Grill additional 5 to 7 minutes per side or until desired doneness.

Steak Nachos

There are some people who follow the old adage about what to eat when you are traveling: You don’t order beef when you’re on the coasts, and you don’t order seafood when you’re in the heart of cattle country.

Well, I was in cattle country last week — in western Nebraska — for a youth baseball tournament. One of the places we went to eat was a place called Steel Grill Restaurant and Bar in Gering. Of course, its specialty was steak, and the one I had — a rib-eye — was perhaps the best ever to cross my palate.

But a bunch of us also shared some delicious steak nachos, which we received for free with a coupon on the tournament program. The nachos were loaded with jalapenos and served with sides of sour cream and salsa.

The experience had me scouring the Internet when I returned home to find a recipe that we might try. And here’s what I found.

Steak Nachos
8 ounces skirt or flank steak
1 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1½ cups shredded reduced-fat Jack cheese
½ cup bottled salsa verde
4 ounces tortilla chips
½ 14- to 16-ounce can pinto beans
1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced
1 red onion, diced
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
Chopped fresh cilantro or scallions (optional)
Preheat a grill, grill pan, or cast-iron skillet. Season the steak with the chili powder, salt and pepper and grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until medium-rare. Let the steak rest.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute, then slowly whisk in the stock. Simmer for a few minutes, then stir in the cheese and salsa and continue stirring until the cheese is fully melted.
Chop the steak into small pieces. Arrange the chips in a single layer on a large cookie sheet or baking pan. Top evenly with the beans and steak, then drizzle on three-quarters of the cheese sauce. Top with the jalapeno and onion. Bake for about 15 minutes. Top with the remaining cheese sauce, tomatoes, and cilantro if using.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 360 calories, 14 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 610 milligrams sodium.

Smoky Skirt Steak Fajitas

There’s no doubt that a bit of smoke in the grill can add a lot of flavor to an ordinary piece of meat. It can turn a simple skirt steak into mouthwatering fare. And if you add some veggies to the mix . . .

Smoking meat has been around a long time. Some say it started with the cavemen, who as their name suggests, lived in caves. Of course, there were no chimneys back then, so whenever a fire was built inside their abode, the smoke invariably was absorbed by meat that had been hung to dry and cure. (See related story at

I’m a big fan of smoking meat, fish and such. I’ve even purchased an electric smoker because of my fondness for anything “smoked.” My most recent foray into smoking was some pheasant thighs and legs, which were transformed into a delicious appetizer after soaking overnight in a kosher salt/sugar/paprika/black pepper brine followed by three to four hours in the smoker.

Here’s a tasty-looking recipe from Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe, Florida-based barbecue guru, serial cook-off champion and author of the new book “Slow Fire: The Beginner’s Guide to Barbecue” (Chronicle Books, $22.95, 176 pages) that’s sure to make just about anyone a believer in smoke — even a caveman!

Smoky Skirt Steak Fajitas
2 pounds skirt steak
2 limes, divided
Fired-Up Fajita Rub (recipe follows)
1 large red onion, halved and sliced
1 green and 1 red bell pepper, halved and sliced
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
¼ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
10 8-inch flour tortillas
Sour cream, salsa, garnish
Cut the steak into 6 pieces. With a heavy meat mallet, pound the steak well to tenderize it. Squeeze the juice of 1 lime over 1 side of the meat. Season with fajita rub — heavily for rich, spicy meat, or lightly for milder meat. Let rest 5 minutes.
Flip the steaks and repeat with the second lime and the rub. Place steaks on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and chill up to 2 hours.
Prepare your cooker to cook indirectly at 235 degrees, using medium oak wood for smoke flavor.
In a medium aluminum foil pan, combine onion, bell peppers and jalapeno. Drizzle with olive oil. Toss with salt and 1 tablespoon fajita rub. Put the pan in the cooker and cook for 1 hour.
Wrap the tortillas tightly in foil and set aside.
Toss onions and peppers with tongs. Add the steak to the cooker in one layer. Cook 30 minutes more.
Toss the onion-pepper mixture again and flip the steaks. Put the tortilla package in the cooker. Cook for 30 minutes more.
Remove everything from the cooker. Tent steaks loosely with foil and let rest 5 minutes. Slice steaks thinly, against the grain, and add to the onion-pepper mixture. Toss well and serve with the warm tortillas, sour cream and salsa.
Yield: Serves 10.

Fired-Up Fajita Rub
¼ cup kosher salt
¼ cup chili powder
1 teaspoon ground chipotle
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon lemon pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne
Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. The rub may be stored in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 6 months.
Note: This big, bold, spicy rub is great for fajita and taco meat, where the tortillas will help mellow things out.
Yield: About 1 cup.

Sirloin with Herb Butter and Charred Peppers

Cooking with herbs can greatly enhance the flavor of food, while at the same time reducing the need for salt.

I’m big fan of that concept. And hardly a meal goes by at our house in which herbs aren’t used in one way or another.

Tonight, we’re having what I term a warm-weather supper. It’s going to consist of sandwiches, made with smoked chicken I cooked last night and freshly baked bread from Dakota Harvest Bakers;  a salad dominated by recently picked lettuce from our garden; and homemade tomato salsa featuring cilantro — a very pungent herb — that’s the best we ever grown.

Herbs are quite versatile, as the following recipe shows. A sirloin steak that has been rubbed with a mixture of dried porcini mushrooms, balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce is cooked on the grill and later topped with herb butter. The sirloin then is complemented with grilled mini peppers.

Sirloin with Herb Butter and Charred Peppers
2¼ pounds sirloin, at least 1 ½ inches thick, cut into 6 portions, or 1 bone-in, double-cut rib eye steak (about 2 ½ inches thick, about 2 ½ pounds), trimmed of excess fat
1 ½-ounce package dried porcini mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon packed light or dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, divided
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary, divided
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 green onions, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces assorted red, yellow and orange baby bell peppers
Juice of 1 lemon
Set the sirloin pieces on a plate.
(If using a bone-in rib eye, place the steak flat on a board; tie kitchen twine tightly around the sides (including the bone) to help the steak keep its shape during cooking.)
Grind the mushrooms in a spice grinder or blender; transfer to a bowl and mix with the garlic, vinegar, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 ½ tablespoons rosemary, red pepper flakes and 2 teaspoons salt. Cut several slits all over the steak; fill each slit with some of the mushroom mixture, then rub the rest all over the meat. Transfer the steak to a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 to 4 hours. Remove from the refrigerator about 1 hour before grilling.
Meanwhile, combine the butter, green onions, parsley, remaining 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce and ½ tablespoon rosemary and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat a grill to medium-high, then prepare for indirect heat: For gas, turn off the burners on one side. For charcoal, push the coals to one side. Brush the steak with the olive oil, then place on the cooler side of the grill (indirect heat). Cover and cook, turning occasionally, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 110 to 120 degrees, about 10 to 15 minutes depending on the thickness. Move the steak to the hotter side of the grill (direct heat) and cook until the thermometer registers 125 degrees, about 2 to 3 more minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 15 minutes, spreading with some of the herb butter.
Meanwhile, grill the peppers over direct heat, turning, brushing with the lemon juice and seasoning with salt, until charred, 8 to 10 minutes. Top the steak with more herb butter and serve with peppers.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 469 calories, 61 percent of calories from fat, 31 grams fat (13 grams saturated), 10 grams carbohydrates, 36 grams protein, 1,324 milligrams sodium, 90 milligrams cholesterol, 2 grams fiber.

Garlic-Herbed Steaks in Bourbon Pan Sauce

There is an art to cooking steaks, no matter if you’re grilling, broiling or frying them. First and foremost, you have to know what are the best cuts for the method you’re going to employ.

grilling enthusiasts know that top sirloin steaks are leaner and less expensive. But because of their low fat content, sirloin tends to also dry out faster and be less juicy, as well as a little tougher. On the other hand, porterhouse, T-bone, rib eye and rib steaks all have a healthy amount of fat, which will make them especially tasty when grilled.

Broiling is another story. This method will work best with medium-thickness cuts like flank steak, which are less than an inch and a quarter thick. If your steak is too thick, the outside will burn before the inside warms through enough.

Growing up, we didn’t do much grilling. When we did have steak, it usually was broiled. But after I moved out on my own, I started experimenting with frying. I found that a steak at least an inch thick worked best. And what I really liked was frying my steak with some mushrooms and onions in butter and a little olive oil. What I discovered is it was even better was if you added a little wine to the pan.

And that’s why I was intrigued by the following recipe, from Shannon Hayes’ “The Grassfed Gourmet” (Eating Fresh, 2004). A splash of bourbon is added to the pan to make a sauce, which is later poured over the steak at serving time.

Garlic-Herbed Steaks in Bourbon Pan Sauce
2 steaks, 1-inch thick
3 tablespoons garlic-herb rub of your choice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup bourbon
Generously coat each steak with the rub. Set aside at room temperature, about 30 minutes to an hour.
Heat a skillet over a medium-high flame. Add oil and butter and heat until melted and splattering slightly, then add the meat and cook 5 to 6 minutes per side. Remove steaks and tent with foil.
Lower the heat, add the bourbon, and simmer 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly and scraping any browned bits. Set the steaks on warmed plates, top with the bourbon sauce, and serve.
Yield: Serves 2 to 4.

Spicy Teriyaki Steak

There’s nothing worse than a tough piece of meat off the grill. But there’s one method that will take away any worries about that. Marinades ensure tender as well as tasty meat, no matter if you’re using the cheapest cut.

‘ve always liked to make my own marinade with honey, teriyaki sauce and orange juice. But these days, you don’t have mix up you own to guarantee success. I’ve discovered over the past couple of years some tasty dry marinades from McCormick, which require only mixing with water.

And now, some new marinades from Lawry’s of the seasoned salt fame offer another option. New is Santa Fe Chili Marinade, which is described as a bold blend of flavors, including chili pepper, cumin, oregano and a splash of lime juice — perfect for waking up easy weeknight chicken dinners; and Mediterranean Herb and White Wine Marinade, which features basil, oregano, garlic and sun-dried tomato, blended with white wine and extra virgin olive oil.

The marinades join a list of several dozen others, including the one used in the following recipe.

Spicy Teriyaki Steak
¾ cup Lawry’s Teriyaki Marinade with Pineapple Juice
¼ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons sesame seed
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1½ pounds flank steak
Mix marinade, ketchup, sesame seed and red pepper in small bowl. Reserve 2 tablespoons for brushing. Place steak in large resealable plastic bag or glass dish. Add remaining marinade mixture; turn to coat well.
Refrigerate 30 minutes or longer for extra flavor. Remove steak from marinade. Discard any remaining marinade.
Broil or grill steak over medium-high heat 7 to 8 minutes per side or until desired doneness, brushing with reserved 2 tablespoons marinade mixture. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with Broccoli Salad, if desired.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 237 calories, 9 grams fa, 30 grams protein, 9 grams carbohydrates, 60 milligrams cholesterol,734 milligrams sodium, no fiber.

Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich

What constitutes a great Philly cheesesteak sandwich? Some will say the perfect one consists of a hoagie roll, several slices of good quality beef, a bunch of caramelized onions and, of course, a cheese that’s tasty as well as gooey when it melts.

The original Philly cheesesteak sandwich was created by two Philadelphia brothers, Harry and Pat Olivieri in about 1930. According to one account, the two operated a street-side hot dog grill in the home of the Liberty Bell. One day, Pat said to Harry, “Here’s a quarter. Go to the Italian Market and buy a hunk of steak.”

The brothers cut up the steak, grilled it with sliced onions, and slapped it on a roll. A cab driver who drove by asked what they called the sandwich. “I guess you call it a steak sandwich,” they said, and sold it for a dime. And that was the birth of the Philadelphia steak.

It wasn’t until 22 years later that cheese was added, first Cheez Whiz and subsequently provolone and American cheese and pizza sauce.

I got to think about the sandwich today after seeing one advertised at a Holiday station while getting some gas for my car. While I didn’t rush in and buy one, it made me think twice. Here’s a recipe that I might give a try, although it does appear to be a bit extravagant.

Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons applewood-smoked bacon drippings
2 ounces Spanish onions, julienned
2 ounces green bell peppers, julienned
5 ounces choice rib-eye steak, sliced 1/16 inch thick
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
2 pinches fresh thyme
½ cup warmed cheese sauce (such as Cheese Whiz)
1 8-inch ciabatta or hoagie roll
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. In a hot pan pour the vegetable oil, the bacon fat, and onions and saute until golden brown. This should take 10 to 20 minutes. Be careful not to burn or they will become bitter instead of sweet. Next, add the green peppers and saute for 2 minutes. Then add the rib-eye, shred with 2 spatulas and cook until well done (about 5 to 7 minutes). Season with salt, pepper and the thyme and pull off of the fire.
Place the bread in the oven for about 5 minutes and then slice in half but leave the back connected. Place the meat mixture evenly over the bread and pour the warm cheese sauce over the top. Close the top of the sandwich, place it on a plate, grab three napkins and a beer, and chow down.
Yield: Serves 1.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 1,284 calories, 74 percent of calories from fat, 106 grams fat (38 grams saturated, 40 grams monounsaturated), 247 grams cholesterol, 43 grams protein, 44 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 2,312 milligrams sodium.

Valentine’s Surf ‘n’ Turf

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Do you have a dinner plan for your sweetheart?

You don’t need to go to a fancy restaurant to deliver a tasteful message of love to your honey. A romantic meal a home will be just as effective. In fact, many women might appreciate it even more.

Here’s a meal that you can cook at home that your spouse is sure to love.

Surf ‘n’ Turf with Rosemary Potatoes and Steamed Veggies
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
2 center-cut beef tenderloin filets (6 ounces each)
Salt and pepper
8 small red potatoes, halved
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, destemmed and chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary)
1 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, then cut into ¼-inch pieces crosswise
1 carrot, peeled and cut the same way as the zucchini
1 cup broccoli florets
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large prawns
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil onto a shallow plate. Turn each filet over in the oil until each is well coated. Place the steaks on a clean work surface and season both sides liberally with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, in an ovenproof casserole dish, toss potatoes with rosemary, enough of remaining 5 tablespoons olive oil to coat and the salt and pepper to taste. At the same time, in a glass microwave-safe container with a lid, toss together the zucchini, carrot and broccoli. (See note.)
Place potatoes in preheated oven and roast about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. (You will want to time this so that they are done about the same time as the steak.)
While potatoes roast, heat an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes. If you have a cast-iron skillet, use it; if not, use another ovenproof skillet. If using a nonstick skillet, be sure your model is safe at 425 degrees; many are not.
Add butter to hot skillet and, as soon as it melts, place steaks in pan. Sear on one side 5 minutes. Do not move or otherwise handle the steaks during this time. The object is to get a nice crust on the surface of the steaks. Turn them over and set pan aside.
Butterfly the prawns. With a sharp pairing knife, cut each prawn down the middle of its back, from “head” to tail. Under running water, remove the vein. Carefully separate the shell from the meat and then replace. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and lay flesh side down in the skillet with the steaks.
Place skillet in the oven alongside the potatoes and roast steaks to desired doneness:
For rare: Sear 5 minutes, roast 5 minutes, rest 5 minutes
For medium-rare: Sear 5 minutes, roast 7 minutes, rest 5 minutes
For medium: Sear 5 minutes, roast 9 minutes, rest 5 minutes
The prawns are done in 4 minutes, so prawns will need to come out before the steak. Cover and keep warm.
While steaks rest, cook veggies. Place in the microwave, covered, and cook on high (100 percent power) 2 to 3 minutes, depending on how crispy or tender you like them.
Arrange 1 steak and 1 prawn on each serving plate at the “6 o’clock” position, arrange the potatoes between 10 and 12 o’clock and the veggies between 12 and 2 o’clock. Serve immediately.
Note: Other vegetables can be substituted, such as the asparagus and yellow squash. Vegetables also can be sautéed in a skillet in a little oil instead of steamed in the microwave.

Steak Sandwich with Caramelized Onions

Grilling burgers isn’t rocket science. Just about anyone can do it. But a good steak sandwich is a work of art.

I’ve had my share of good steak sandwiches over the years. The first one that comes to mind was at Barb’s Cafe in Angus, Minn. It actually was a mushroom steak sandwich. It was one of the specialties of Barb Arnold, who ran the cafe along with her husband, Kelly.

I remember stopping in at Barb’s one summer during my college days, while working for the Minnesota State Highway Department (now the Department of Transportation). Our crew, which worked on the road, would have lunch there on Fridays on our way back to Crookston. And I always had the steak sandwich.

Another tasty one was Tony Oliva’s Cuban Steak Sandwich at Target Field. The past two times I’ve attended Twins games in Minneapolis, one of my first stops was the stand behind home plate where the steak sandwiches are served.

Here’s a steak sandwich recipe I came across this week that looks pretty good. It is topped with caramelized onions, which make a wonderful side dish for roasts or grilled fish, atop burgers and pizzas, and, of course, steak sandwiches.

Steak Sandwich with Caramelized Onions and Melted Cheese
6 tablespoons extra virgin
Olive oil
5 medium onions, finely sliced
1 teaspoon super fine sugar
1 small bay leaf
4 fillet steaks, 7 ounces each

7 ounces Camembert cheese
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices of sourdough bread
2 oregano sprigs, leaves stripped
First, caramelize the onions: heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over low heat, then add the onions, sugar, and bay leaf. Give everything a good stir, cover with a lid, and slowly cook the onions until they are a deep nut-brown in color; stir occasionally. This process will take longer than you think — about an hour. Meanwhile, bring the steaks to room temperature (this will take about 20 to 30 minutes); de-rind the cheese and divide it into four chunky slices.
Toward the end of the onions’ cooking time, heat a nonstick frying pan over high heat. Add the oil and, when it’s shimmering, gently place a steak into the pan. You should fry the steaks one at a time: if you add all four at once they’ll steam rather than fry. For rare steaks about 1-inch thick, cook for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, and rest for 5 minutes.
Season each steak with salt and pepper, place a cheese slice on top of it, and set aside in a warm place so that the cheese begins to melt. Meanwhile, toast the bread. Spoon the caramelized onions onto the toast, place the cheese-smothered steaks on top, finish with a sprinkle of oregano leaves, and serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 756 calories, 56 percent of calories from fat, 46 grams fat (16.3 grams saturated, 24 grams monounsaturated), 167 milligrams cholesterol, 55 grams protein, 28 grams carbohydrates, 2.9 grams fiber, 655 milligrams sodium.

Marinated Skirt Steak Sandwich

A lot of grills get put away with the passage of Labor Day. But there are many people who refuse to hang up their spatulas, tongs and grilling forks until the first snowfall. And then, there are those grill year-round.

Well, hopefully, we’re a at least a month or so away from the first snow of the year, although an old friend, Steve Foss, reported there were flakes in the air today (Sept. 14) up in Ely, Minn. He said there even was a little accumulation on his boat cover.

That aside, here’s a recipe for a grilled steak sandwich that caught my eye today, courtesy of McClatchy Tribune Information Services.

Marinated Skirt Steak Sandwiches
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
¾ cup olive oil
1½ teaspoons minced garlic
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1½ teaspoons minced shallots
1 skirt steak (about 2½ pounds)
1 loaf French bread, lightly grilled
Mixed greens
Grilled red onions (optional)
Cheese slices (optional)
Tomato slices (optional)
In a glass measuring cup, combine all the marinade ingredients. Place the skirt steak in a glass baking dish or plastic sealable bag. Pour the marinade over. Cover dish or seal bag. Marinate no more than 3 hours.
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Oil the grates.
Remove the skirt steak from the marinade and wipe off the marinade.
Grill the steak about 3 to 4 minutes per side or until medium-rare or no more than medium. Brush the inside of the bread with some olive oil and grill until just lightly browned. If grilling the red onions, put them on the grill before the steak and grill about 5 minutes on each side. Place some mixed greens on the bottom of the bread and place the whole grilled skirt steak on top. Scatter some grilled onions, cheese and tomato slices on it.
Cut the loaf into individual sandwiches and serve.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 343 calories, 36 percent of calories from fat, 14 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 24 grams carbohydrates, 28 grams protein, 353 milligrams sodium, 50 milligrams cholesterol, 1 gram fiber.