Charred Steak with Creamy Cucumber-Almond Sauce

SERVES: 4

You could use any cut of steak here, but I’ve recco’d two of my weeknight faves–hanger and flank, both of which are great on a grill and cook within 8-12 minutes. The marinade would also translate well to boneless skinless chicken thighs or shrimp, so if you’re not feeling steak, swap it out and adjust cook times accordingly. The ajo blanco sauce that sits beneath the steak is a take on a Spanish-style almond and cucumber gazpacho. I’ve turned it into a (totally vegan!) aioli by blending blanched almonds, garlic, olive oil, and cucumbers until they become supremely creamy and luscious.

Active Time: 40 Mins

Total Time: 55 mins

Screenshot 2024-06-14 at 1.44.53 PM

Produce

  • 6 garlic cloves, divided
  • 8 thyme sprigs
  • 6 medium Persian cucumbers (12 ounces)

Pantry

  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons sherry vinegar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • ¾ cup blanched almonds (whole or slivered)
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • Flaky sea salt, for serving

Protein

  • 2 pounds hanger or flank steak

1. Marinate the steak:

  • At least 1 hour and up to 24 in advance, in a medium bowl or resealable bag, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, 4 finely grated garlic cloves, and 1 tablespoon smoked paprika. Mix well. Pick the leaves off 8 thyme sprigs and add to the marinade.
  • Season 2 pounds of cleaned, trimmed hanger or flank steak all over generously with salt. Add to the marinade and let sit until ready to grill

2.Make the ajo sauce and prep the cukes:

  • In the base of the blender, combine ¾ cup blanched almonds, 3 tablespoons of sherry vinegar, ¼ cup cold water, 2 small garlic cloves (or 1 large one), and ½ cup olive oil. Coarsely chop up 1 Persian cuke and add to the blender. Blend on high, scraping down the sides of the blender occasionally, until very creamy and mayo-like in texture–if it’s too thick and the blender won’t get going, add an additional tablespoon or two of cold water until it starts to get spinning. Don’t rush the blending, it may take a couple of minutes to get really creamy–it should be the consistency of yogurt–not thick like hummus. If it needs a bit more water, add more to thin it out. Season very well with salt (it will need a lot) and transfer to a bowl.
  • Cut 5 Persian cucumbers on the bias into 2” irregular pieces. Season all over with salt and keep cold until ready to serve.

3. Grill and serve:

  • Preheat a grill, or a grill pan over medium-high heat. Lightly oil the grates of a grill. Sear the steak, covered, turning occasionally, until charred all over and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest parts of the steak registers 130 F. This can take 7-12 minutes depending on how thick your steak is and what cut you’re using. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes while you plate up the remaining ingredients.
  • Schmear some ajo blanco sauce on a serving platter. Arrange the cukes on top (if they have expelled any water during their time in the fridge you can tip off and discard that).
  • Slice the steak against the grain, and arrange it on top of the cukes. Pour all accumulated juices on the cutting board over the steak. Drizzle the dish with more extra virgin olive oil and season with flaky sea salt... and Serve!

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