Here at Null Device Media Industries, in addition to churning out dance music, we’ve always had a fondness for good food. We’ve never been one of those bands that loads the van with chips and PBR, we’re the band that rolls out on tour with a cooler full of vegetables from local farmers markets and homemade beef jerky. We have stopped to eat at Waffle House, because everyone needs to do that.
We have a tradition of a the “BandBQ” – sometime in mid-summer, when possible, I like to fire up the grill, invite the bandmates and their significant others over, and chow down. This time around I got a little more ambitious than my usual brats-n-beer affair.
So I figured what better excuse do I have to resume food-blogging?
(is it weird that I’m food-blogging on a music site? Maybe, but if a fiction writer can turn his site into my favorite food/booze blog, then I figure I can indulge in a periodic recipe or restaurant review)
Grilled Flank Steak, “anticucho” flavor
It’s an understatement to say that I enjoy my plate cuts of beef. So much so that for a while the band’s motto could’ve been “you know, flank is a very underrated cut of beef.” I’m also a huge fan of the brisket and the skirt steak as well, but the brisket requires a long slow cook and skirts tend to be too small to make a good buffet meal. (that said, my favorite meat purveyors at Fountain Prairie have the best skirt steaks I’ve ever had, and I horde them for myself now). Flank used to be my go-to steak, but its recent surge in popularity has meant an increase in prices. It’s still cheaper than buying a ribeye, but the days of the $5 mega-flank are gone, alas. Still, I love ‘em, they take marinade like a champ, they’re chewy without being stringy when cut against the grain, and for my money have some of the best flavor you can find on a cow.
I also love Peruvian food, and while I’m a neophyte at Peruvian cooking, I yanked some of the ingredients used to season those tasty little grilled meat-on-a-stick brochettes to use as a marinade, and served it with a fresh herb chimichurri.
Marinade (amounts are approximate, since I winged it):
3 tbsps powdered Aji Amarillo
2 tbsps granulated garlic
2 tsp salt
Fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsps white vinegar
Mix the dry ingredients together and add the vinegar to moisten (you may need a little more or less). Drizzle in olive oil and blend with a fork until you have thick paste.
Slather that on a flank steak, seal in a plastic bag and try and squeeze the air out, and let marinade for a few hours. (I marinated it overnight)
I’ll assume that you know how to grill a flank steak at this point. Hot grill or broiler, get it to about medium, let it rest, slice against the grain, done.
1/4c mint (or, um, “one handful”)
4 cloves garlic
Blend in food processor until it’s roughly sauce-like. I like a good amount of vinegar kick so I added probably close to a 1/2c, but some people like theirs a little more “rustic” and a little more tart and go heavier on the herbs.
This is not hard.
Compound Butter That Tastes Awesome On Grilled Corn
1 stick of butter
A few leaves of cilantro
Soften the butter slightly, then beat in finely chopped cilantro and parsley, and add lime juice. If the butter is unsalted, salt to taste. I use a food processor for this process.
Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho
I love gazpachos of various stripes. From the traditional ones made with stale bread to the more nouveau styles that are basically chopped vegetables, I’m a sucker for that mix of sweet fresh veggies and tart vinegar. And now that tomato season is underway, I’m more than happy to go back to the basic ingredients. You just can’t make this with crappy store-bought tomatoes.
About 5 cups of mixed good heirloom tomatoes, finely chopped. (I used a combination of Brandywines, Cherokee purples, sungold cherries, and a few others that were available at the local farmers market. Basically they just have to be good, sweet tomatoes)
1 bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1c of peeled, seeded chopped cucumber
3 cloves garlic
1/4c chopped onion
4 tbsp sherry vinegar (good sherry vinegar is a lovely thing. You can use a good wine vinegar here but…but it’s just not the same)
A sprig fresh thyme (bit of a callback to Thomas Keller’s gazpacho recipe)
A solid drizzle of a good, fruity extra virgin olive oil (a piqual is lovely here)
Salt to taste.
Toss all ingredients together. Let macerate overnight.
I first read this recipe at the “Okay, Check it Out” blog, which is always a good and tasty read. The sweet-tart mixture appealed to me, and the complexity and aromatics of cardamom seemed like a great addition. However, I made a couple of alterations. First, I wanted a stronger watermelon flavor. Second, I was lazy and didn’t feel like squeezing 75 limes. So this is both a shortcut (and one I’m mildly ashamed of, because ordinarily I’m a believer in the purity of lemon and limeade, so I tend to stay away from anything with HFCS in it. But alas.) and it’s an alteration.
This also seems like it’d make a rather tasty granita for a hot day.
1 can (sigh) frozen limeade concentrate
5-10 small cardamom pods
Juice the watermelon. This is easier than it sounds. I scopped out the meat, tossed it in a blender and whizzed it until it was a pulpy liquid. I then drained through a sieve into a bowl, collecting the juice (and smaller bits of pulp). A whole watermelon should provide enough juice to completely reconstitute the limeade. So, reconstitute the limeade.
Crush the cardamom pods and toss them in. Let the whole mixture sit overnight. If you’re so inclined, fish the cardamom out before serving.
So that is, in fact, what we ate. It seems like an awflu lot of work, but I did most of the prep work in about a half hour the night before, and even that was mostly “whizzing things in the blender and food processor.” The hardest part was carrying bowls and plates out to the back deck. Throwing meat and corn on a hot grill? A dawdle.
Better yet, I have leftovers. Lots of leftovers. I’ve got gazpacho for lunch today, and about half a flank steak in the fridge at home, waiting to be carved up into dinner.