Steak Salad with Chili Lime Vinaigrette

Thursday, June 20, 2019

This post is in partnership with Bounty. The content and opinions are all mine.

I've been craving steaks lately - beefy, well-marbled rib eyes and strip steaks specifically. But it's also summertime, so instead of cooking heavy meals, I've been working my steaks into hearty salads.

Thicker steaks might seem more intimidating to prepare, but there are two techniques that work remarkably well to cook them evenly every time. The more traditional route is known as the "reverse sear" technique, which I've covered on my blog before. It involves slow-cooking the steak at a low temperature in the oven and then finishing on the stove top by searing in a heavy skillet. A modern approach can be achieved by cooking a vacuum sealed steak in a sous vide bath, in which water is heated to a precise temperature. Like the reverse sear technique, a steak cooked sous vide also needs to be finished in a skillet at the end of the cooking process. Both methods are very easy to do and free up your hands to prep salad ingredients in the meantime. Regardless of the method you choose, part of the goal when searing a steak is to ensure its surface is dry first. A personal hack I have for getting my steaks as dry as possible is by using Bounty as part of the prep process. Why Bounty? They are thick and absorbent, which really helps to soak up all that extra moisture. Read on below for the full recipe, which includes more tips for cooking large steaks, as well as how to assemble this summery salad!

Steak Salad with Chili Lime Vinaigrette

Ingredients for the steak:
1 to 1.5 lb rib eye or New York strip steak, at least 1" thick 
1 tsp Kosher salt, plus more as needed
2 1/2 tsp Mexican chili powder, or see below to make your own substitute*
1 tbsp neutral cooking oil, like grape seed or canola
1 tbsp unsalted butter

For the salad:
2 tbsp rice wine or apple cider vinegar
Juice and zest of 1 lime
2 tsp honey
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 tsp Mexican chili powder*
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
1 ear fresh corn
6 radishes
1/2 seedless cucumber
1 avocado
3 cups mixed greens

Chili powder substitute:*
1/2 tsp ground ancho chile
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground cayenne

*If you've made the Mexican Chile Rub from my digital cookbook, The Kitchenista Diaries: Vol. 1, you may also substitute that here.

Active Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours
Yield: Serves 2 generously for dinner, or 4 as lunch portions
Special Equipment: 

If you plan to use your oven to cook the steak, use the reverse sear method. Scroll past this section for sous vide instructions!

Reverse Sear Steps:

Preheat your oven to 250°F. After taking the steak out of its package, use a couple sheets of Bounty to thoroughly pat all surfaces dry. Having a dry steak will give you a crustier surface later when searing.

Season the steak generously on both sides with Kosher salt, about one teaspoon per pound of meat. (I prepared an extra one for leftovers, as you can see below.)  Rub the steak with two and a half teaspoons of chili powder.

If you have the time, transfer the steaks to a plate and let them hang out in the fridge for an hour, up to overnight. The salt will have more time to penetrate that way. Otherwise, proceed immediately with cooking.

Set the steak on a metal rack fitted over a heavy-duty sheet pan. Elevating the steak on a rack helps the air to circulate for even cooking. Stick a probe thermometer in the thickest part of the steak. 

Cook the steak at 250°F until the internal temperature registers 120°F if you plan to finish the steak at medium rare, or 125°F if you prefer a medium steak. This could take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, so the probe thermometer is critical to monitor progress accurately.

After the steak reaches the proper temperature, remove it from the oven. It needs to rest for at least 15 minutes before searing, but you can let it hang out for up to an hour or so if needed. As the steak rests, its temperature will continue to climb a bit due to residual heat.

Sous Vide Steps:
This is my preferred method for cooking thick steaks because it requires much less equipment. Set up your sous vide circulator or machine per manufacturer's instructions. Set the water temperature for 130°F - 135°F if you prefer a medium rare steak or 140°F to 145°F for medium. 

Season the steak generously on both sides with Kosher salt, about one teaspoon per pound of meat. Transfer the steak to a resealable freezer bag, or vacuum seal if you have that equipment on hand. If you have the time, let the steak hang out in the fridge for an hour, up to overnight. The salt will have more time to penetrate that way. Otherwise, proceed immediately with cooking.

If you used a plastic freezer bag, you'll need to use the water displacement method to seal it. Seal all but a couple inches of the zipper top. Submerge the steak in the water, leaving the unopened part of the seal above water. When all of the air has escaped the bag and the steak is able to sink and stay underwater, seal the remaining end of the bag.

Cook the steak for at least one hour per pound, and up to four hours.

For the sous vide process, the steak needs to be thoroughly dried after it cooks. This is easy to do by laying it on a sheet of Bounty to soak up the excess moisture on the bottom of the steak and use another sheet to blot the top of the steak.
After the steak is dry, rub it with two and a half teaspoons of chili powder.

Finishing the steak:

Finishing the steak is virtually the same whether you did a reverse sear method or sous vide. To sear, heat a heavy skillet over medium-high to high heat, until it's just shy of smoking. I prefer using cast iron for steaks. Add the cooking oil to the skillet. Once the oil is shimmering, use tongs to carefully lay the steak down in the skillet. Allow it to sear for thirty seconds, then flip the steak over to sear the other side. Add the butter. Once melted, use a spoon to baste the top of the steak with butter. Flip the steak back and forth a couple times to finish the sear. (This can be a messy process, so expect some splattering on your stove top. Thank goodness Bounty helps make clean up a breeze!)

The total time in the skillet should only be a couple minutes. The goal is to quickly get a crust on the outside of the steak without overcooking that perfect interior. If you did the reverse sear method, you can use your probe thermometer, or a handheld instant-read thermometer, to confirm that the steak has reached its target temperature. For a medium rare steak, you'll want to finish between 130°F - 135°F. For medium, 140°F to 145°F. If you cooked sous vide, the temperature was already at the target before searing.

Transfer the cooked steak to a cutting board. You don't need to rest the steak before slicing! Be sure to slice against the grain for tender pieces of steak.

Preparing the salad:

Since you have an hour while the steak cooks, there's more than enough time to prep salad ingredients in that window.

Bring a small pot of water to boil, and boil the eggs for exactly 11 minutes. Shock them in ice cold water immediately after cooking, and then peel and quarter once safe to handle.

Shave the corn off the cob, and slice the radishes, cucumber, and avocado. To prepare the vinaigrette, combine the vinegar, lime zest and juice, honey, grated garlic, chili powder, and olive oil in a small container. Whisk or cover and shake well. Season to taste with a pinch of salt.

Pro tip: Place a damp Bounty sheet underneath your cutting board to help keep it from sliding while you cut those veggies.

When you're ready to build your salads, start with a handful of greens on each plate and layer half the veggies. Drizzle with some of the vinaigrette. Follow with the remaining greens, more veggies, and top with sliced steak. Garnish with sliced eggs on the side, and drizzle with vinaigrette. Enjoy!

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