Thursday, February 19, 2015

Flank Steak Rolls a Hit at Wine Tasting

Host, Ty, at left: gathering around the foods
Last evening an informal wine tasting was held at the lovely home of Ty and Ann Hanson. I made a few appetizers to contribute to the foods. I have to say I had more fun last evening than I have in a long while. The circle of friends attending were all lovely and convivial. I had a few people who love cooking, and with whom to bounce ideas back and forth. My husband had someone to talk computer geek stuff. We both came away from the evening happy and grateful for such lovely people and such a lovely time. 

Michelle Podoll setting out the wines
I wrote about this upcoming event about 10 days ago, when I was doing a trial run of a couple of the recipes I was planning. My goal is always to pair foods with wines in a way that brings out the best in both. I had created the Lemon Thyme Chicken Fillo Cups to pair with a Ferarri Carano Chardonnay and also with a Pinot Noir. I am happy to report, after last evening's event, that this appetizer paired well with both these wines. The wines presented ranged from about $13 to $73 in price. There was a Cabernet Sauvignon from Spain, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, two Zinfandels, a Rhone varietal blend and a Chardonnay from California, an Italian Chianti and a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. 

Asiago/cream cheese logs
The other appetizer I had made as a trial run on that same day needed a little modification. This second appetizer was Flank and Asiago Rolls. In the trial run I rolled a narrow rectangle of Asiago cheese with a sliver of scallion in the individual flank steak bites. The fact that Asiago will tend to crumble a bit meant that in some of the rolls, sticking the toothpick through the roll meant the cheese broke in half. Plus, the cheese was a bit overwhelming this way. My sister-in-law, who was there to taste these trial runs, suggested maybe grating the cheese and mixing with cream cheese. I thought this was a great idea. I wanted to keep the strength of flavor of the Asiago, being the component that would make it a good pairing with the strength of the Cabernet Sauvignons being served.

While prepping for the event of last evening, I did grate the Asiago cheese finely (using a small-holed grater (rendering thin strings much like the fresh grated Parmesan one finds in the grocery) and mix in just enough cream cheese to make the mixture form-able. I wanted to roll the cheese into narrow logs this time, making it easier to roll in the sliced meat segments. I ended up with 84 little logs, 6 to 7 grams, or .21 to .25 ounces each. I was completely happy because, as it turned out, I had only two thin bits of the flank steak left, after using the entire 84 cheese logs. Great eye for what was needed (as I pat myself on the back!).

Flank & Asiago Rolls, served
How many appetizers this recipe will yield depends on how one slices the flank steak, and how accurately the little cheese logs are weighed. The cheese logs can easily vary widely, so I used a little scale to ensure they did not vary beyond 6 grams. I have sliced many flank steaks for similar type appetizers, so I have some practice, but it is not a difficult thing to do. There will be waste involved (which we are happy to devour!). Ends that are too thick and not long enough to make into a roll - there is no getting around the waste there. Some slices will end up thicker than others. Just keep slicing and thinking "thin".

Flank & Asiago Rolls

makes about 80 to 85, approximately
Flank & Asiago Rolls

2.3 pound flank steak
1/4 cup Sweet Smoky Cocoa Rub 
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chipotle powder

6 - 8 cloves garlic, minced finely

12 ounces Asiago cheese, grated finely
8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup Hoisin Sauce
scallions, slivered for rolling
toothpicks for skewering

The hostess, Ann, prepping salad
One or two days before, Combine the Sweet Smoky Cocoa Rub with the olive oil, salt, chipotle powder and garlic. Place the flank steak into a gallon sized zip-top bag. Take one half of the oil mixture and rub evenly onto the steak in the bag. Flip over the bag, and apply the remaining mixture evenly onto that second side of the steak. Seal the bag and place in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days.

Up to 3 days in advance, prepare the cheese. Grate the Asiago finely, and using hands or a hand mixer, thoroughly combine with the cream cheese. It is best to use a scale or some implement to make all the cheese logs of equal size. Measure out a small amount. Six grams is plenty. Roll this into a log about 2 inches long. Repeat with the remaining mixture, setting the logs into a container as shown in the photo above. Set waxed paper between layers. 

Have ready the scallions. If larger, slice lengthwise down the scallion, then cut this into lengths about 2 or so inches long. Store these in a zip-top baggie in the fridge if making the day before or earlier in the day.

The day before, or early on the day needed, preheat the broiler with the oven rack on the second level from the top. Set a rack onto a low rimmed baking sheet (cover the baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup later), set the steak on the rack and place under the broiler for approximately 6 minutes per side. Remove from oven and tent with foil until cooled. The meat can be sliced at this point, but there will be far more mess. If possible, once the meat is cooled, wrap and store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight before slicing; once sliced, the slices can be stored one more night in the fridge.

Once ready to slice, begin at one end, cutting across the long grain of the meat. Set the knife at an angle away from you to get wider strips of meat. All that is vitally important is that all the slices be across the grain, ensuring tender meat. Slice the meat as thinly as possible. Once the meat is too wide for the knife to span easily, slice it into two sections lengthwise. Then, continue to slice off thin pieces until all the meat is used up. I used a 2.3 pound piece of flank to yield the 86 rolls. The slices of meat will need to be long enough to wrap around the cheese log and scallion sliver.

It takes about 40 minutes to make all the rolls. Set the Hoisin Sauce in a small bowl and have a pastry brush ready. Set the flank slices, cheese logs, scallions and toothpicks arrayed near you. Lay out a slice of meat and using the pastry brush, dab a small amount of Hoisin sauce on the slice. Set one cheese log and a sliver of scallion across the width of the meat and roll to encase. Skewer with a toothpick. Repeat with all the remaining meat. These should be eaten the day they are rolled as the scallions become soggy if kept too long.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. .