from Wood-Fired Cooking, pp. 54-55.

My new SoJoe fire pit arrived last week and I was dying to take it out for a spin. Although it came with a rotisserie set that I’m dying to use, I decided instead to grill a stuffed flank steak in the new cookbook I bought to inaugurate the fire pit. I’ve spotted close to ten recipes in it that I want to try. The one I present here struck me as the easiest and most spectacular one in the book. It certainly was good.

I have by no means given up on my Weber kettle grill. A project in the near future will involve using the 6 fire bricks I recently acquired to insulate the kettle so that I can do a slow wood-grill in it.

For the moment, I’m focusing on building a fire and roasting a flank steak:

Serves 6 as a main course

1 (1 1/2 – 2 lb) flank steak

Shadowcook: Make that definitely a two-pounder.

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Gremolata stuffing:

1 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/4 cup julienned fresh basil

6 cloves garlic, blanched and minced

Shadowcook: I take her point that blanching garlic removes the bitterness, but I’m not sure I want to. Anyway, I didn’t.

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1/3 cup bread crumbs or panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons olive oil, for moistening

For the remainder of the recipe:

2 red bell peppers, roasted and peeled

Shadowcook: Two would not have been enough to adequately cover the surface of my butterflied flank steak. I chargrilled four peppers on my gas grill, slipped off the burnt skins, and opened them flat.

2 cups packed spinach leaves

8 ounces Italian fontina or Monterey Jack cheese, thinly sliced

Olive oil, for brushing

Wood-Roasted Red Pepper Wine Sauce (page 191, for which you’ll have to buy the book)

Prepare a hot fire (475 degrees to 500 F) in a wood-fired oven or grill

Shadowcook: I started a fire by filling a charcoal chimney with hardwood brickettes. When the coals were blazing hot and red, I dumped them in the fire pit on one side. Then I laid four medium oak logs over the coals and let them catch fire. It didn’t take as long as I thought: 15-20 mins for the chimney coals, another 10-15 mins for the logs to catch fire from the coals.

Now, I don’t know why she begins with the making of the fire and then proceeds to stuffing the flank steak. I stuffed the flank steak and then made the fire. Prepare the meat ahead of time.

Butterfly the steak by slicing through it horizontally (with the grain), cutting almost through, leaving halves attached by 1/2 inch. Open and flatten the cut meat and lightly season with salt and pepper. Pound the steak to create a fairly even thickness. Set aside.

Shadowcook: Unless you’re skilled with a very sharp carving knife, ask a butcher to butterfly the flank steak for you. My butchers are really good and even they couldn’t prevent a thin section from becoming a seam that tore open in the meat. I watched the butcher butterflied it: long slices, one at a time, running the length of the steak until he had nearly reached the other side. And have him pound it. Why not?

To make the gremolata stuffing, combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Set aside, reserving 3 tablespoons for garnish.

Cut the roasted peppers into 4 large slabs. Lay the spinach leaves over the opened steak. Line with cheese slices, then the red pepper slabs. Sprinkle with the gremolata stuffing. Roll up the steak tightly lengthwise. Tied the rolled steak with kitchen string about every 3 inches. Brush with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Shadowcook: It should be obvious, but make sure to roll up the steak against the grain. In other words, the grain should run horizontally, not vertically, laying on the counter in front of you. Because of the tears in the steak, I tied the roll six or seven times. Less than 3 inches separated the strings, which made for easy carving into servings. Season LIBERALLY. Remember, if you’re using Diamond Crystal kosher salt, it has less than the salinity of regular salt.

Place the meat on a grate in the oven or on the grill and turn to brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Move off direct heat and continue cooking for 20 to 25 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 120 to 130 degrees F. Transfer to a carving board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 130 to 135 degrees F. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds, sprinkle with the reserved gremolata, and serve with the wine sauce.

Shadowcook: Since it’s an open grill, I didn’t move it far from the direct heat. As the meat contracted and shrank, the cheese and peppers oozed out of both ends and through the small holes in the meat. It looked a delicious mess. For most of the grill, the temperature remained low enough to worry me that I would dry the meat out before it reached the recommended degree. But then, something happened about 20 minutes into the longer grilling and it shot up to 130. I took it right off and let it sit under foil.

To tell you the truth, I was forced to let it rest for longer than was good for it. I tasted it about ten minutes after. Succulent. But I had no choice except to wait to servie it. When it arrived at table room temperature, it was good but not as good as it would have been twenty minutes earlier. Be sure your guests are lined up and ready to eat after it’s rested. The cheese needs to be hot and a bit runny and the peppers warm. The beef at the center will still be pink.

At any rate, it made a hell of a visual impression on everyone at the table. And tasted pretty good.

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