UP IN SMOKE
Happy 4th of July!
In the South, summer leads up to a sweltering 4th of July where food, freedom, and family goes hand-in-hand with barbecue, sweet tea and (unfortunately) flocks of mosquitoes.
No matter how hard we tried, a trip to the store for lighter fluid and charcoal always seemed like the first order of business in the morning, that and getting pounds and pounds of both regular and smoked boudin from the local Market Basket. So with Community Coffee in hand, the women started to get to work on the fixins. Deviled eggs, which were slightly addictive from the addition of white vinegar. Slabs of French bread were sliced horizontally and brushed with melted butter and served with Jack Miller’s barbecue sauce for dipping. Pale yellow potato salad came modestly dressed with mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper and cayenne. Smiling half-moon slices of cold, juicy, ripe cantaloupe curiously counted as a vegetable (and not as a dessert.) Plump, meaty slices of homegrown tomatoes and skinny slices of cucumbers both covered with salt and pepper donned our holiday menu.
I can remember the subtle creak of the screen door as I stretched it open to check on the progress going on outside (the creak reminded me of the sound a grasshopper makes while scratching one leg against the other.) The combination of Louisiana humidity and smoke from the barbecue instantly made my eyes sting, but the lovely, familiar waft of meat smoking away on the pit made up for any inconveniences.
As this holiday is approaching this week, I have been reminiscing on this 4th of July memory as I sit in my yard-less, grill-less, loft in Nashville. Destined and determined, I pulled out my sturdy grill pan, cranked the heat to high on my electric stove, and seared a beautiful skirt steak to pure perfection. In my excitement, I failed to realize A) the entire place quickly began filling up with smoke, and B) I live in a loft, which means “opening up all of the doors” is not an option for ventilation. The whole place smelled of grilled meat, smoke and immediately my eyes began to water. I smiled as curiously as a cantaloupe. Success.
I hope you and your loved ones are blessed this holiday with feasts, family, and fireworks!
Amber Wilson was born into a Cajun family in which making roux became a rite of passage. She is a freelance writer and the author, recipe developer and photographer for the Southern memoir-style blog www.fortheloveofthesouth.com
Recipe: Serves 2
Note: This steak is particularly amazing served with this side and this sauce! Also, this recipe has only 2 ingredients, which means the quality of the ingredients really matters. Make sure you get the best skirt steak you can find and use great quality salt as well! It makes all the difference in the world.
1, 1-1 ½ pound skirt steak, trimmed
Course sea salt
Sprinkle coarse sea salt onto both sides of the steak and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, crank up a grill pan or cast-iron skillet to high. You want the pan to be smoking hot (literally.)
After 30 minutes, dab the steak with paper towels making sure the steak is as dry as can be. Season both sides of the steak with sea salt.
Once the pan is ready, place the steak in the pan/skillet and let cook for 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let the steak rest for 5-10 minutes. This step allows all of the lovely juices to evenly distribute back into the meat. Thinly slice the steak at an angle, against the grain (not straight down into the meat.) This will ensure tender, juicy pieces instead of tough, dry pieces. Enjoy!