by contributing writer Mary Cressler
When cooking for a crowd, I like to keep things easy. I try to select recipes that allow me to minimize the amount of prep work needed, appeal to a broad audience, and those that give me the most bang for my buck.
The same philosophy applies when I make a meal for my family. Many nights, especially during the warm summer months, I crave a light salad for dinner. My husband, however, prefers something heartier. Instead of making two separate meals, I use the same ingredients and just prepare it two different ways.
Grilled marinated skirt steak served two ways is the perfect example of this idea and demonstrates an easy way to combine similar ingredients to appeal to a broad audience. And the best part is you can drink the exact same wine with both dishes… and no; it’s not your typical steak wine.
Grilled Marinated Skirt Steak Two Ways – Sandwich and Salad
The idea for these two dishes is to do the same amount of work, and use similar ingredients, but for two separate dishes. You start by marinating, and then grilling, your skirt steak.
- 2 pounds skirt steak
- 1 cup dark beer (recommended porter/stout)
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 sprig rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Combine all marinade ingredients into a large freezer size Ziploc bag. Add the meat, seal the bag, and marinade in the fridge for as little as two hours and up to six.
- Pre-heat your grill of choice to medium-high (I used a charcoal grill).
- Remove meat from fridge and marinade to get to room temp, about 20 minutes. Discard marinade.
- Put meat on heated grill for approximately five minutes each side — it’s a thin slice of meat, so you don’t need very long.
- Remove from grill and let it sit for 15 minutes to let juices redistribute.
- Slice into thin strips against the grain and serve as noted below.
Just before you put your meat on to grill you can prep your ingredients for the sandwich and salad. I use similar ingredients in both dishes so that I’m not chopping up a million things. I use bell pepper and onion–raw for the salad, and grilled for the sandwiches. While the meat is cooking, throw on your onions and bell pepper to grill and soften.
The only differences is that the steak gets some Dijon horseradish sauce, and the salad gets a Dijon vinaigrette along with some sliced cherry tomatoes. Hubby doesn’t care for raw tomatoes, which is the only reason I leave them out of the sandwiches. Both dishes get blue cheese crumbles.
Once the steak is cooked, slice it up into thin strips against the grain and use half for the sandwiches and half for the salads. It’s easy!
- Half of the steak (approx 1 lb cooked meat, sliced)
- 1 tablespoon horseradish sauce (see below)
- 1 red bell pepper, grilled, then sliced into thin strips
- 1 medium red onion, sliced into thick rounds and grilled
- Arugula leaves
- 1 baguette, or 4 sandwich rolls (I like ciabatta rolls for this)
- ¼ cup horseradish sauce
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt (you can use mayonnaise too, but I don’t like the taste of mayonnaise and use Greek yogurt instead)
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- For the horseradish sauce: in a small bowl combine horseradish sauce, Greek yogurt, and lemon juice.
- To assemble, arrange your bread of choice. Top with steak slices, grilled onions and peppers, arugula, and top with blue cheese and desired amount of horseradish sauce.
- 2 large handfuls arugula or 1 small pre-packaged bag
- 1 orange or red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
- ½ medium sized red onion, sliced into thin strips
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
- Honey Dijon Vinaigrette (below)
- Half of the steak (approx 1 lb cooked meat, sliced thinly)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon
- ½ tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt & fresh ground pepper (to taste)
- Toss the arugula, bell pepper, red onion, cherry tomatoes, and blue cheese with just enough of the vinaigrette to moisten and coat the arugula and veggies .
- Top the salad with the cooked steak.
- In a bowl, whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients until emulsified. Adjust flavors to your liking.
Not Your Average Steak Wine
When it comes to grilled red meat, most people will lead you to big wines like Zinfandel and Merlot (which I recommend quite often, depending on the dish), but for a dish like this you need something that won’t conflict with the acidic flavors of the salad dressing and the spicy arugula, while also holding it’s own with the meat.
Also, a skirt steak isn’t a very fatty piece of meat, so a tannic wine won’t benefit from this dish. Besides, a big tannic wine will kill the salad.
Instead, the flavors I think of with both dishes are umami and acid. The steak is marinated in soy, Worcestershire, dark beer, and other ingredients bringing out a savory quality in the meat. The salad contains arugula, which is peppery and a dressing that is acidic and has a slight spicy bite from the Dijon.
The sandwich doesn’t have the dressing, but it does have a spicy creamy horseradish sauce giving it the same spicy bite. Plus, I always take weather into account. It’s summer, so I’m not in the mood for something heavy, tannic, or bold.
The wines I recommend for this are red wines that are high in acid, low in tannin, light to medium in body, and have peppery characteristics. The last time I made this I paired it with a Zweigelt from Austria, a Beaujolais Cru from France, and a Pinot Noir from the Finger Lakes region of New York. All were excellent choices.
2011 Weingut Berger Zweigelt, Niederösterreich, Kremstal, Austria
You can find this wine between $12-$15 for a 1 liter bottle (vs the typical 750 ml bottle), which makes it great for parties or large gatherings since you get more bang for your buck in terms of quantity!
The key characteristics in this wine are its bright nose with tart cranberry and raspberry fruit, pepper notes, and acidic mouthfeel. The tart fruit, pepper, and high acidity pairs very well with both the salad and steak. This was my favorite with the salad in particular since the peppery notes really complimented the spicy arugula. The wine alone tastes fairly tart, but paired with the salad and meat it becomes really delightful!
2011 Georges Duboeuf Fleurie Clos des Quatres Vents, Beaujolais, France $19
Similar to the Berger Zweigelt, this wine was high in acid with similar tart cranberry notes, but with less pepper, and added some deep cherry flavors to the mix. Acidic and bright, with red berry fruit, softer mouthfeel, this was a standout with the sandwich, but worked well with both dishes.
2010 Wagner Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir, Finger Lakes, New York $25
What stands out with this wine is, again, that bright fresh red fruit and a touch of pepper, though this has richer flavors likely attained from oak aging. The nice acidity in the wine is also key. If you choose Pinot Noir for this pairing, this is a nice option. But if you have a hard time finding Pinot form the Finger Lakes, just look for a new world style with bright ripe fruit (not an earthy style).
So how can you accommodate to a variety of BBQ palates this summer without overworking yourself? Well, by trying out a meat dish presented two ways, and one that doesn’t compromise in taste. I say keep it easy and fun by using similar ingredients, but applied in different ways to keep everyone happy in the back yard.
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Mary Cressler is a Certified Sommelier, a Wine Location Specialist, and the proprietor of Vindulge: Wine Education & Consulting. She conducts wine classes and events and offers consulting for individuals, restaurants, and event planners.
She writes about wine, food, and travel on her blog Vindulge. Mary resides in Connecticut with her husband, twin boys, and two Chihuahuas.