Skirt Steak Salad with "Wilted" Greens, Tomato, Avocado and Lime By Rick Bayless
Serves 4 1 medium-large head (8 ounces) frisée/curly endive (root-end cut off, remainder cut into 2-inch sections) OR 8 cups salad spinach, long stems removed 2 medium-large ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into ½-inch (or smaller) cubes 2 medium avocados, peeled, seeded and cut into ½-inch (or smaller) cubes 6 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil (divided use) 1 pound skirt steak (thicker "outer" skirt steak is most tender-it should already be trimmed of the exterior white membrane and surface fat) Salt Ground black pepper 2 to 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped or crushed through a garlic press ¼ cup beef broth or water 1 chipotle chile en adobo, stemmed, seeds scraped out and finely chopped ¼ cup fresh lime juice About 1/3 cup grated queso añejo or other dry grating cheese, such as Romano or Parmesan
Chef's Note: For me, this is an incredibly satisfying dinner, with a thick slice of the seven grain bread from our local bakery. I love the extra-beefy flavor of skirt steak, the rustic chew of the frisée (salad spinach is also good), and the savory pleasure of the warm, chipotle-infused dressing. The creamy avocado and ripe tomato don't hurt either.
Method Scoop the frisee (you should have about 8 cups) or spinach into a large bowl. Strew the chopped tomato and avocado over the top.
Set a very large (12-inch) heavy skillet over medium-high heat, and measure in 2 tablespoons of the oil. Sprinkle both sides of the skirt steak with salt and pepper. Lay it in the hot oil and cook until it's about medium-rare, about 1 to 1 ½ minutes on each side. Remove to a cooking rack set over a plate-this keeps juices in meat, rather than running out onto the plate.
Turn the heat under the skillet to low. Add the garlic and stir for a few seconds until very aromatic. Then pour in the broth (or water), and stir to release any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet (the liquid will quickly come to a boil). Turn off the heat and add the chile, along with the lime juice and 4 tablespoons of the oil. Season with salt (usually ½ teaspoon) and pepper (about ¼ teaspoon is right for me).
Cut the skirt steak into roughly 3-inch lengths, then cut each piece across the grain into ¼-inch strips. Add to the bowl with the frisee. Pour the warm dressing over the frisee and toss to coat thoroughly-the greens will wilt slightly. Divide between dinner plates or large salad bowls. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and serve right away.
A Few Riffs on Steak Salad: Feel free to substitute boneless skinless chicken breast for the skirt steak. Or choose a 1- to 1 ¼-pound piece of flank steak, cook it whole (it'll take a few minutes longer than the skirt steak), then slice it across the grain (if pieces are awkwardly long, cut them in half). When our local tomatoes aren't in season, I use sliced sun-dried tomatoes (ones that have the texture of soft dried fruit). This is the perfect place for farmer's market greens like Japanese mizuna or shungiko greens, wild arugula, young dandelion and amaranth; a little watercress, young purslane and pea shoots are great additions from my perspective.
Bacon-and-Onion Steak Salad:This variation may be over-the-top for everyday eating, but I love bacon as much as skirt steak: Slice 2 thick pieces of bacon crosswise into ½-inch pieces. Scoop into a very large (12-inch) skillet, along with a sliced red onion and a tablespoon of olive oil. Fry until the onion is richly browned. Scoop into a bowl, leaving behind as much fat as possible; use the skillet to fry the meat, as directed. Add the onion mixture to the salad along with the meat.
Vegetarian Grilled Eggplant Salad:When I've got the grill fired up, I often grill extra things to feature over the next few meals: Cut 1 large eggplant and 1 large red onion into ½-inch slices; spray both sides of slices with oil; sprinkle with salt. Grill over medium-high until browned and softening (this can be done on a grill pan, too). Cut eggplant into strips. Make the dressing in a skillet as described, replacing the beef broth with rich vegetable stock and the lime juice with balsamic vinegar. You may or may not think the avocado fits.