Monday, April 6, 2009

Persian Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak with Ramp Risotto

Oh, how I LOVE Persian food. And one of my favorite things are their kebabs. Chicken or fillet mignon... I love them both. It's the flavor that is special, and until recently, I didn't know what the flavors were exactly, I just knew it was unique and out of this world delicious and we'd often make special trips to Darya just to quench our cravings for the stuff. Now that I have my trusty New Food of Life Persian Cuisine cookbook though, it is a secret no more.

Tonight's dinner -- Persian spiced marinated skirt steak. And since I still have fresh ramps, I made ramp risotto. A bit of a twist to the usual side of plain white basmati rice.

Lets begin:

The meat is whatever you choose. Filet mignon is a classic, so is chicken breast. But I had skirt steak, so that's what I used.

You make a marinade for the meat, and it should marinate for at least 2 hours, and most Persian recipes call for 24 hours. I never plan that far ahead though, so I can't personally tell you if it makes a difference.

For a serving of 4:
1 1/2 to 2 pounds of meat
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground saffron dissolved in 2 Tbsp hot water
1/2 cup of plain yogurt
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 large onion, chopped

Mix all ingredients and then add the meat. If you are going to skewer them, cut them into the chunks before adding to the marinade. For this dinner, I grilled the steaks whole so I left the meat in large pieces. I put it in a ziplock bag and it rested in the fridge for about 3 hours.

For the risotto I started by sauteing the chopped ramps in butter. I also added 1 clove garlic, chopped.

After about 2-3 minutes, I added the rice and mixed to coat it with the butter.

I had fresh chicken stock on hand, so I spooned hot stock into the rice mixture a little at a time, stirring constantly until liquid was absorbed, then I would add more stock. This is repeated until the rice is fully cooked and tender (which means you need to taste it frequently until it's to your liking). Finish it with a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese and stir into the rice to melt.

When you take the steak out of the marinade, wipe the excess yogurt and onion mixture off with a paper towel. If you are cooking over an open flamed grill, it's less important to have it completely dry -- but if you are cooking it in a pan, try to get it as dry as you can so that it will brown nicely. Too much moisture will steam the steak in a pan, making it tough and rubbery. For best taste, you want a nice brown sear, as seen here. For mine, I wiped them well with a paper towel, then coated the bottom of my pan with canola oil, got the pan really hot, then quickly seared the meat on both sides resulting in a medium to medium rare doneness.

It's plated with the risotto, and then a traditional garnish of tomatoes. And if you have time to grill the tomatoes a bit - even better!

Q: Where can I buy ramps?
A: We get ours from Doug. :) You can e-mail him at wrn453(at) and he will gladly add you to his mailing list to remind you when it is ramp season, and you can order fresh ramps from him too! He also sells them here during season.