I knew the smell long before I knew the recipe. Hitting me as I entered the kitchen, it was intoxicating and made my mouth water. It was the smell of sharp, acidic Worcestershire and red wine, the bite of red onion and clove after clove of garlic. Pungent rosemary and the dry, grassy smell of fresh thyme blended with a sweet hint of fresh orange juice.
The skirt steak would spend an afternoon on the counter soaking in the bright, earthy marinade, telegraphing hours ahead the meal that would follow. The minute I smell this combination of flavors, even before seeing it, I am in my Mother’s kitchen, safe and happy at home.
We all have Mom smells – as opposed to Moms who smell – those scents that bring us home. (I know you exactly what you were thinking, ’cause I’m twelve years old too.) Whether its lilac or peonies from the garden, tomato sauce simmering on the stove or steak marinating on the counter, these sense memories are – if you will excuse a moment of sincere sentimentality – like a hug you can access any time. And they are a testament to our mothers who gave us these gifts.
I love you Mom.
Marinated Skirt Steak
Serves 4. To feed more people, buy a bigger steak, or a second steak. Cook this steak to medium or medium-rare. It’s a bit chewy at rare. (And you weren’t even thinking about well, right?)
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbs Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1/4 cup Merlot or other acidic red wine vinegar
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 tbs fresh thyme, separated
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1-1 1/2 pound skirt steak
- 2 tbs cup brandy – it’s a steak, use V.S. Courvoisier.
- 2 tbs chilled butter
- Make the marinade: combine red onion, garlic, Worcestershire, red wine, orange juice, vinegar, bay leaves, 2 tbs thyme and the pepper, in a bowl. Pour over steak in a freezer bag and marinate in the fridge for 4-8 hours.
- Bring the steak to room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove steak from marinade and pat dry.
- Grill: prepare a medium-high fire. Sear over direct heat for 3 minutes per side, and finish the steak off to the side to medium or medium-rare.
- Stove top: Over med-high heat, warm 1 tbs vegetable oil in a heavy skillet until almost smoking. Sear both sides of steak, about 3 minutes per side. Reduce heat to medium and cook steak to medium or medium-rare.
- Cover steak with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before carving across the grain.
- Meanwhile, strain marinade into a skillet, add brandy and bring to a boil. If you cooked the steak on the stove top, reduce the sauce in the same pan, scraping up any brown bits. Reduce liquid to 1/2 cup. Remove from heat and whisk in cold butter.
- Season to taste and serve over sliced steak.