I don't eat a lot of steak these days. It is expensive, and I'm on a budget...and my wife can really take red meat or leave it. But sometimes you just want to put your knife and fork into some beef, and savor the flavor. I have learned to appreciate the relatively affordable "petite sirloin" on those occasions, and have learned how to dress them up so they taste like something much more special.
Follow me below the fold for a few of my favorite treatments. When I can catch these on sale in "family packs", I pick a couple up and rewrap them in freezer paper in packages that will serve the wife and I for an individual dinner.
It satisfies that craving for steak without having to spring for a ribeye steak at twice the price.
Petite sirloins are very lean, so I find a good sauce can boost the flavor quotient that is lacking from the lack of fat marbling in the meat.
My favorite, hands down, is a topping of mushrooms sauteed in marsala and butter. The fresh thyme leaves really set it off, and you need only season the steaks with salt & pepper before either grilling them or cooking them in a cast iron skillet:
Mushrooms in Marsala Sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
2 finely diced shallots, or 1 white onion, finely diced
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 cups Marsala wine
1 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/2 bunch fresh chives, chopped
Begin the Marsala sauce by heating the olive oil in a large saute pan. Cook the shallots (or onion) and mushrooms gently until they become translucent. Deglaze the pan with the wine and add the stock and fresh thyme. Allow to reduce by two-thirds. Season with salt and pepper, as needed. Spoon the sauce over the grilled steaks, garnish with chopped chives, and serve.
Next up is something even simpler...Just whip up a batch of Chimichurri Sauce, a condiment that hails from Argentina, and spoon its deliciousness over the top of your perfectly grilled and simply seasoned petite sirloin.
Argentinian Chimichurri Sauce:
1 cup lightly packed chopped parsley (ideally, flat leaf "Italian" parsley)
3 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves (optional)
2 tablespoons shallot or onion, minced
3/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar, or red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
*if you like cilantro, you can do half parsley and half cilantro for this sauce.
Place all chimichurri sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until well chopped, but not pureed. You can baste the steaks with this sauce as you grill them, as well as serving the sauce as a condiment at the table. It's good stuff.
*Steak au poivre (courtesy of Alton Brown)
How can you go wrong with Brandy, heavy cream and cracked pepper? This sauce would make the tongue of a pair of workboots taste good.
4 nice sized petite sirloin steaks
2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/3 cup Cognac, plus 1 teaspoon
1 cup heavy cream
Remove the steaks from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour prior to cooking. Sprinkle all sides with salt.
Coarsely crush the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle, the bottom of a cast iron skillet, or using a mallet and pie pan. Spread the peppercorns evenly onto a plate. Press the fillets, on both sides, into the pepper until it coats the surface. Set aside.
In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil. As soon as the butter and oil begin to turn golden and smoke, gently place the steaks in the pan. For medium-rare, cook for 4 minutes on each side. Once done, remove the steaks to a plate, tent with foil and set aside. Pour off the excess fat but do not wipe or scrape the pan clean.
Off of the heat, add 1/3 cup Cognac to the pan and carefully ignite the alcohol with a long match or firestick. Gently shake pan until the flames die. Return the pan to medium heat and add the cream. Bring the mixture to a boil and whisk until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, approximately 5 to 6 minutes. Add the teaspoon of Cognac and season, to taste, with salt. Add the steaks back to the pan, spoon the sauce over, and serve.
The last sauce I often turn to when making petite sirloins is a reduction of red wine. I use a reasonably priced bottle from Trader Joes, and it's always good.
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Sautee garlic in a splash of olive oil for about 30 seconds over med-high heat. Add wine and bring to boil, scraping pan, until reduced by half...about 2-3 minutes. Add water, soy and any pan juices (if you cooked your steaks over the stove). Boil and reduce by half once again...3-4 minutes. Reduce heat to low, whisk in butter one piece at a time, and stir in parsley. Spoon sauce over your steaks and enjoy.
The last thing I like to do with petite sirloins is simply slice them thinly and put them on bamboo skewers. I grill them with two of my favorite TJ's condiments...either Island terriyaki sauce or peanut sate sauce, and serve over rice.
Any of these recipes will turn a piece of beef that, if you are a savvy shopper, you can pick up for $3.50/lb into a satisfying and tasty dinner.
That's all I got, folks.
What's for dinner at your home?