Garlic-Olive Oil Paste for Steaks

Garlic Paste (it really isn’t a paste, but it isn’t a sauce either.)
Enough for a 1.5 pound steak

2-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped (I used 2 large cloves)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt (Kosher or the type you would need to put in a grinder)

Optional: 2 black pepper corns
               1-2 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
               5-10 whole coriander seeds (I used 10)

Special equipment: Mortar and pestle

This holds about 12 ounces (360ml) and I think this is as small as you should buy. I wish that I had a larger one. We’ll see. I bought this at IKEA for about $10. It is heavy marble, and has a very smooth exterior and a slightly rough interior. The marble makes it very easy to clean.

Peel and roughly chopped the garlic, and place it and the salt, and 1 teaspoon olive oil in mortar (and the optional ingredients if you are using them).

With the pestle light crush the garlic chunks a couple times with an up and down action.
Then, holding the mortar tightly in one hand, grind the ingredients in a continuous circular motion, twisting it occasionally to pull the material under and between the mortar and pestle.
After about a minute of grinding.
Note: you need a mortar that holds at least 1 cup. If you can find one that holds 3 cups, it will be easier because the pestle will be larger with a larger grinding surface.
The goal is to mash the ingredients into a relatively uniform paste.
When you have a nice texture, add the rest of the oil. (If you add all the oil at once  before grinding, the garlic tends to float around and it is much harder to grind it.)
That’s it.
The salt in here is necessary, because it acts as small grinding stones within the mash mixture. You also need a mortar that is light rough on the inside. I have seen some that were as smooth on the inside as on the outside. That would make grinding much more difficult because the roughness grabs the material and briefly holds it while you work out your day’s frustrations.
The whole process will only take a couple minutes.
Don’t forget to add the oil to your log. If you have three portions of meat, is is 40 calories of oil ,four portions is 30 calories of oil. 
This thin paste can be used on steaks of any sort, but I like using it on beef flank steaks, as they are relatively lean and benefit from having some added oil. I also use it on my pizza crust in place of a tomato sauce.

Preparing a flank steak takes a few additional steps.

Do you see the muscle fibers running from the lower left corner to the upper right? That is the “grain” of the meat, and when you serve a steak like this, you will slice it into 1/4 or 1/2 inch slices across the grain (moving the knife from upper left to lower right, in this picture) when you plate this meat for your dinner guests.

To help further tenderize the meat, before adding the garlic-oil paste, score the meat. Using a VERY sharp knife, cut a series of 1/4 slices into the meat, parallel and 1 inch apart, at about 45 degree to the grain.

Then, cut it again, on the same side, but at right angles to the first cuts.

Flip the steak over and repeat the process on the other side. Then, rub the garlic-oil paste on both sides.

At this point, you can pause our dinner prep. You could do all this even a day in advance. Just wrap the meat in plastic film and refrigerate, and it will be ready as soon as the grill is hot. Using an oil paste like this will help keep the steak juicy and tender.

When ready to grill, preheat the grill on high for at least 5 minutes (gas grill) or let the charcoal burn down to gray embers. Brush the grates, and using tongs and paper towel, carefully rub vegetable oil on the grates to help prevent the meat from sticking.

This steak cooks quickly.  It is generally an inch thick at most, and when you criss-cross cut 1/4 inch on both sides, you open up a lot more cooking surface. (See how the heat opens the cuts?) About 4 minutes per side will be medium.

Last night, I accidentally let it go a total of 9 minutes and it went to medium-well. (When cooking something that goes so quickly, don’t get sidetracked watering your herb garden.) For us, that was a disaster. An edible mistake, but not one that I will commemorate with pictures. (We like our steaks medium-rare, which is about 6-7 minutes total cook time.)

Nutritional data?  Depend on the size of the portion, and the exact cut of steak. The paste is enough to cover a 1.5 pound steak (above). I generally cut a flank steak into four ounce portions, so I can get about 6 servings per steak (many fewer if both of our boys are eating with us.) A four-ounce portion would have about 20 calories added from the oil.

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Posted in Garlic, Grilled

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