I love that she encourages people to get in the kitchen. I love it when she creates recipes that boil down the essence of a classic dish so you get the flavor without all the fuss. I hate it when she throws way too many ingredients into a big pot and calls it a "stoup." I hate that in the book from which I got this dish, 365: No Repeats, she advocates feeding meals to dogs that include onions, which happen to be toxic to dogs. She says that her dog used to love the flavor of onions. WTF?! Her dog liked the flavor of death?
But I digress. This was one of her better recipes. Also, it included a vegetable that I had never used before: fennel! I had to modify it a bit; it originally called for skirt steak, not flank, but there was nary a piece of skirt steak to be found in Publix when I was there yesterday. She suggested using 1 pint of grape tomatoes in the orzo, but honestly, I think grape tomatoes are twee and overpriced. Regular seeded tomatoes worked quite well instead! Also, I had to omit the flat leaf parsley that she specified for the orzo because I didn't have any. I didn't really miss it, either.
1.5 - 2 pound piece of flank steak
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus some for drizzling
Salt and pepper
1/2 pound orzo pasta
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 fennel bulb, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
A couple of pinches (or more if you like it spicy!) of crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup chicken broth
2 small tomatoes, seeded and chopped
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Marinate the steak for 10 minutes in the balsamic vinegar, a good drizzle of olive oil, and lots of freshly ground black pepper.
Preheat your grill pan or outdoor grill to as hot as you dare.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and add the orzo. Cook until al dente, about 12 minutes.
While you're getting the pasta water started, preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, fennel, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
Season the steak with salt and grill for 5 -7 minutes per side. [Disclaimer: I don't know anything about using an outdoor grill, as I've never owned one. This time works on my stovetop grill pan to produce a rare steak. I highly encourage you to use the touch test otherwise: if the meat feels like your cheek, it's rare. If it feels like your chin, it's medium. If it feels like your forehead, it's well done.] Remove the meat to a cutting board and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.
Add the chicken stock and tomato to the pan and bring it up to a bubble. Add the cooked orzo, basil, and parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper until it's how you like it.
Slice the meat very thinly on a sharp angle against the grain. Plate and serve!
Rating: This is awesome
I totally didn't expect it to be awesome. I was iffy about using balsamic vinegar on steak, and I thought the orzo would be blah. But it wasn't! I would probably make it again.