Thu Jun 23, 2016
I have a running list of recipes where I can jot things down in any moment of inspiration. It's something I've maintained for many, many years, which means some of those items date back to my earliest days of grilling. One such long standing idea was to use tostones—fried green plantains—as a serving piece with steak and sauce adorning it, a nice little appetizer in my mind. I tend to build Meatwave menus from that recipe list—after forming a theme, I pick and choose from the list to assemble a grand feast. So it came to be at a recent Venezuelan inspired Meatwave that this tostones idea finally found a home, and I was sure glad it did.
In of itself, this is not really a new recipe—it's a combination of a bunch of different items I've developed in the past, brought together in a new way. It started with the making of guasacaca, a Venezuelan avocado salsa that I was already planning on putting together to serve with arepas.
I also had skirt steak pepitos—Venezuelan sandwiches—on the menu for that day, and figured I could use the same steak I making for that for these tostones. The steak utilized a marinade that was heavy on the Worcestershire and also brought in oil, garlic, cumin, and sugar for an overall earthy, salty, and slightly sweet flavor.
Tostones themselves are also territory I've covered in detail before, so I was well accustomed to making them by this point. They started with green plantains that I peeled and then sliced into two-inch sections. I then fried those plantains pieces until each side was lightly browned.
Next I smashed them down between two pieces of parchments paper into 1/4-inch high discs. The next step would be fry them again, but I held off on that until the steak was cooked and resting to ensure my tostones would be hot a fresh for serving.
After removing the skirt steak from the marinade, I seared it off on a freshly fired up grill. Using a recently lit set of coals ensures maximum heat, which is perfect for skirt steak—you want to get an excellent crusty exterior while keeping the innards a rosy medium-rare.
Once the steak was done, I slid my smashed plantains into 375°F oil and let them cook until throughly crisped—about one minute per side. I then transferred them to a paper towel-lined tray and seasoned them with salt to taste.
At this point, I turned my focus back to the steak, and the first cut revealed a beautifully cooked end product. I diced this juicy skirt steak into a small 1/2-inch dice—this size was not only right to fit on the tostones, but also created shorter muscle fibers that made the skirt steak more tender and less chewy.
To assemble the final product, I first squeezed on a layer of the cool guasacaca onto each tostone. I followed that with a smaller dollop of Matouk's West Indian Hot Sauce—a fiery papaya and habañero hot sauce that I had on hand to also serve with my arepas. Then I finished each one up with a small pile of steak.
This recipe idea may have had to lay in wait for a long time before seeing the light of day. but it was worth it. The sum of all the parts was incredible. The tostones proved to be a great crunchy and sturdy vessel to hold the toppings, which came together to have a pleasing spicy and cool contrast from the sauces and a heartiness from the extra-beefy steak. Making all the separate items alone may seem a little much for such a physically small end result, but remember that each piece can have much more use beyond this appetizers alone—I used the steak to also stuff pepitos and arepas, the guasacaca found a home on both of those as well, plus as dip for tequeños, and any leftover tostones were served as a side on their own.
Tostones with Grilled Skirt Steak
- Prep Time:
- 1 Hour
- Inactive Time:
- 4 Hours
- Cook Time:
- 15 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 5 Hours 15 Minutes
- 12-14 servings
- For the Guasacaca
- 2 ripe Haas avocados, seeded and roughly diced
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 1 small green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
- 1 medium jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped (optional)
- 2 medium cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup packed roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup packed roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice from 1 lime
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the Steak
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic (about 1 medium clove)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 lb skirt steak
- For the Tostones
- 4 green plantains, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Matouk's West Indian Hot Sauce
- To make the guasacaca: Place avocados, onion, bell pepper, jalapeño (if using), garlic, cilantro, parsley, vinegar, and lime juice in the workbowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until everything is finely chopped, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. With the motor running, drizzle in olive oil through feed tube. Process until sauce is completely smooth. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to squeeze bottle, cover, and place in refrigerator until ready to use, up to 3 days.
- To make the steak: Whisk together oil, Worcestershire sauce, salt, brown sugar, garlic, and cumin in a small bowl. Place steak in a large resealable plastic bag and pour in marinade. Seal bag, removing as much air as possible, and place in refrigerator and let marinate 4 hours to overnight.
- To make the tostones: Fill a cast iron skillet with 1-inch of oil and heat to 375 degrees. Place plantain pieces standing upright in oil and fry until light golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and fry second side until browned, another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined platter and let sit until cool enough to handle.
- Using an object with a flat bottomed surface, smash the plantains to about 1/4" in height. Bring oil back to 375 degrees. Working in batches, fry plantains until golden brown on each side, about 1 minutes per side. Remove to paper towel lined plate. Season with salt.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill steak over high heat until deeply browned on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Remove to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice into a 1/2-inch dice.
- Squeeze both gusacaca and hot sauce onto each tostone. Top each with skirt steak and serve immediately.