Sunday, August 02, 2015

Flank Steak & Manchego Bruschetta and Garlic Soup, August 1, 2015

Thinking I was making it for Friday supper, I began marinating my flank steak Friday morning. By the time we actually had it last night, it was amazingly flavorful and wonderfully tender. The flank steak and manchego bruschetta I assembled after Jeannene had grilled the steak was one of the best things I've eaten in a long time. Jeannene liked it quite a bit, but it was the garlic soup she was oohing and ahhing over the whole time she ate it. I found the texture a little bit creepy and, to me, the flavor was kind of blah. I was glad she loved it so much, though! I'd intended to do a green salad, too, but by the time I got finished cooking, I was too lazy even to move it from bag to bowls. I did put a decent amount on the bruschettas, at least. Those are (pretty loosely) based on a recipe from The Delachaise in New Orleans. The soup comes from Bayona, another New Orleans eating spot, although I used twice the half and half they recommend (the soup seemed to need thinning), subbed roasted garlic bread for the French bread, and added marjoram. I suspect the Bayona folks would sniff at my technique (or lack thereof) and the soup may have seemed heavenly to me, had it been made in their kitchen and not by me. However, I've long been skeptical about the use of bread to thicken soup, but had never tried it. I know now that I am not a fan. However, Jeannene gives it rave reviews.

Flank Steak & Manchego Bruschetta
1 Vidalia onion (any sweet onion works here), roughly chopped
1 bunch scallions, roughly chopped
A big handful of parsley, roughly chopped
3 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
A glug of olive oil
1 flank steak
Crostini (I made mine with roasted garlic bread)
Salad greens
Manchego cheese slices

Whizz onion, scallions, parsley, garlic, and olive oil together in a food processor or blender until it makes a smooth sauce. Marinate the flank steak in the resulting sauce for at least 8 hours. My 35 hours worked out fantastically. Grill flank steak over high flames for 4-6 minutes per side. Allow to rest no less than 30 minutes. Longer is better. I had Jeannene do the grilling just as I started the rest of the meal so that it had plenty of time to rest and re-absorb its juices. Meanwhile, if you are doing the crostini from scratch rather than buying it already crisp, slice a loaf of nice bread thinly. Ciabatta, French bread, and Tuscan bread are all lovely, if you don't spot roasted garlic bread (or don't want garlic on top of garlic). Brush both sides with olive oil, then bake about 15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. Make a few extra to float atop the soup, if you're doing the soup. Top each piece with salad greens. If you like, you can smear the crostini slices with aioli or mayonnaise before adding the greens, but the steak is juicy enough that you won't miss it. Lay a couple pieces of the steak, sliced thinly against the grain, atop each toast, then top with a slice of manchego. I think a bit of snipped parsley makes a nice garnish. You could also reserve a bit of the marinating sauce, before you put the steak in it, and drizzle it over the finished bruschetta. It's a stunning bright green that would look terrific on a platter of these. 

Garlic Soup
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
2 onions, chopped
2 heads garlic, chopped
1 qt. chicken stock
1/4 loaf day-old bread (such as French, but I used roasted garlic bread), cubed
3 parsley sprigs
3/4 tsp. marjoram
3/4 tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf
Large pinch salt
Good grinding pepper
2 c. half and half

Heat oil and butter on low heat until hot and melted. Add onions and garlic. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are starting to turn brown, about half an hour. Remove lid, raise temperature to medium, and cook another 10 minutes, stirring often, until they are a deep golden brown (caramelized---this mellows the flavor). Add stock, bread, seasonings (I threw in the manchego rinds from the cheese for the bruschetta, too). Bring to a boil. Simmer on reduced heat for about 15 minutes. Remove parsley, bay leaf, and cheese rinds, if you have thrown some in the pot. Puree the soup using a blender or food processor (carefully). I love my immersion blender for this sort of thing. Return the soup to the pot. Add half and half and return to a boil. Serve topped with crostini or croutons, if desired. I also sprinkled some shaved parmesan and some parsley snippings into the bowls. Serves 4-6. 

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