Marcia's Featured Recipe

Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Chimichurri Sauce, Black Beans and Rice

Whenever we visit family in Boca Raton, Florida, we always stop at "Don Arturos", a Cuban/Spanish restaurant and order the Skirt Steak (another cut of meat) with Chimichurri, Black Beans and Rice. The Chimichurri Sauce is a garlicky sauce from Argentina is great spooned over beef or chicken.

The "Flat Iron Steak" is a tender cut from the chuck top blade roast. (The chuck is the shoulder). Call your local meat department early in the morning before they begin cutting up the primal cuts into roasts. The butcher should know what a flat iron steak is. At my market they run about $4.99 per pound and average about 1# each. Two steaks will serve 4 very well. When cut on the diagonal, they are incredibly tender and juicy. This has become one of my families favorite grilling steaks. It is lean and very flavorful. If flat iron steak is unavailable, use flank steak, but try to get one before opting for the flank.

Chimichurri Sauce

There are as many versions of this sauce as there are letters in the name! This is the one I have experimented with to get one my family and students at the school like. You may add another tablespoon of the Sherry Vinegar to the sauce after mixing it. It should have a little bite of vinegar. The Sherry vinegar will be milder than the red wine vinegar.

1 cup (packed) fresh Italian or curly parsley
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar (the Sherry vinegar is well worth having in your pantry for it’s unique flavor)
1/3 cup (packed) fresh cilantro
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled, about 1 tablespoon (less if you prefer)
3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt

Puree all ingredients in processor. Transfer to bowl. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.) Makes about 3/4 cup.

Flat Iron Steaks

2- approximately 1 pound flat iron steaks

salt and pepper

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper. Cook to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove steaks from grill; tent with foil and let stand 5 minutes (this step is important to ensure juiciness).

Thinly slice steaks on a diagonal across grain.

Serve with chimichurri sauce, black beans and rice. Makes 4-6 servings.

Black Beans

2 tablespoons canola or olive oil

˝ cup of diced onions

1 clove garlic, minced

2 cans black beans, undrained

In a large skillet, saute the onions and garlic in oil for about 3 minutes. Add the black beans, stir to combine, and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, or until slightly thickened and the juice has evaporated some.


Cook enough for 4 servings of white rice according to the package directions.

Marcia's Featured Recipe

Penne with Vodka and Spicy Cream Sauce

Patricia Wells writes, "There is something wonderfully satisfying about thick tubes of pasta, such as penne, sauced with a mixture of lightly spiced tomatoes and cream. The addition of vodka makes a very intriguing dish. I’m sure only one out of a thousand people would guess that vodka is the secret ingredient. The recipe comes from La Vecchia Betolla, a lively, elbows-on-the-table trattoria in Florence, where you squeeze onto rough wooden benches and ultimately share in conversation with your neighbors, always close at hand."

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

˝ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

4 plump fresh garlic cloves

sea salt

1- 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 pound dried pasta, such as penne

˝ cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons of vodka

1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, snipped with scissors


In an un-heated skillet large enough to hold the pasta later on, combine the oil, garlic, crushed red peppers, and a pinch of salt, stirring to coat with oil. Cook over moderate heat just until garlic begins to turn golden, but does not brown, about 2-3 minutes.

Add crushed tomatoes to the pan. Stir to blend, and simmer, uncovered, until sauce begins to thicken, about 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add 3 Tbsp. salt and the penne, stirring to prevent pasta from sticking. Cook until tender but firm to bite. Drain thoroughly.

Add the drained pasta to the skillet with the tomato sauce. Toss. Add the vodka, toss again, then add the cream and toss. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and let rest for 1-2 minutes to absorb the sauce.

Add the parsley and toss again. Transfer to a warmed shallow soup bowls and serve immediately. (Traditionally, cheese is not served with this dish.)

Marcia's Featured Recipe

Beef au Jus

This intriguing recipe came from Marcia Adams book, "Cooking from Quilt Country". The coffee and soy sauce give this dish a depth of flavor and tenderness.

The CHUCK section comes from the shoulder and neck of the beef, and it yields some of the most flavorful and economical cuts of meat. The downside is that these cuts tend to be tough and fatty, and they have more than their fair share of bone and gristle. These are perfect cuts to braise and stew. The ROUND steak comes from the rump area and may be labeled "top round" or "bottom round".

3# chuck roast, trimmed of  visible fat

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 cup of coffee (brewed or instant)

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons oregano

1 garlic clove, minced

2 medium onions, sliced

Heat a large Dutch oven with a tight lid or a roasting pan, heat over medium-high heat until quite hot. Add the oil and sear meat on both sides. TIP: when searing, make sure meat is not crowded in the pan. It needs space around it for the steam to escape and evaporate, thus allowing for proper browning. The meat will stick to the pan until it is properly browned and ready to turn. Do not turn it until  it easily releases. You are looking for a deep walnut brown crust on the exterior of  the meat.

Pour the remaining ingredients over the meat. Cover with the lid or foil. Bake 3 ˝-4 hours at 325 degrees. Check after 1-2 hours and add more coffee and soy sauce if needed. To serve: shred beef and serve as a sandwich, or serve with mashed potatoes as an entree.

NOTE: this recipe works well in a crock pot. Brown the meat first and add to the crock pot.

What we are doing in this recipe BRAISING

Braising, which is a long, slow method of cooking, is the perfect technique to melt connective tissue into soluble collagen in tough pieces of red meat or dark meat poultry. Braising is good for tougher cuts — the lengthy cooking process tenderizes the meat. Though braises and stews are similar, they differ in some aspects of cooking.

To produce a braise, fat is added to a pot or skillet, and the meat is browned on all sides over high heat. Browning the meat adds flavor and color. Next, a liquid is added that comes half way or less up the side of the meat. The mixture is then covered and cooked slowly until the meat is tender. Because the meat is cooked in a closed pot for a long time, a rich sauce is produced.

According to Madeleine Kamman in the Making of a Cook, a true braise is made by searing and browning the meat, then placed on it a layer of aromatic vegetables (onions, carrots, celery leaves, and herbs) in a heavy pot as close to the size of the meat as possible. Ideally, there should be no space between the meat and the lid. Since this is usually not possible with everyone’s particular cooking vessel, she recommends covering the meat with a piece of aluminum foil pressed tightly against the meat. The foil should go to the edges of the pot and be curled upwards to catch any condensation from the lid and prevent its dripping back into the sauce.

For a stew, small pieces of meat are seared, then cooked while covered or nearly covered in liquid.