Country Spotlight: Grilling a la Plancha in Andorra

Andorra

What I’m about to post is without question the most thrilling, enjoyable, and fun culinary exploit I’ve taken thus far. While leafing through the pages of the latest Bon Appètit magazine, I came across a piece that profiled Eric Ripert, a chef and co-owner of Le Bernardin, a Michelin-starred restaurant on the west side of New York City. Ripert grew up in the Andorra region, sandwiched between Spain and France, and adopted a customary way of grilling which revolves around doing so on plancha — or slate.

“The Man of La Plancha” spread featured a steak, grilled summer vegetables, sourdough bread, baby potato salad, israeli couscous tabbouleh, and peaches in lillet. I chose to cook and highlight the first three, as the process associated with grilling each entity enhances the next one. That’s not to say I wouldn’t seek out of this July 2013 issue of Bon Appètit for this profile alone. I thoroughly enjoyed every step I had to take to ensure that I prepped and cooked to the best of my ability, from the purchasing of the slate at Home Depot to arranging the vibrant colored vegetables on the pan prior to their foray onto the slate. I sincerely hope you enjoy this culinary venture as much as I did. One thing to note is that I opted for a flank steak instead of the porterhouse steak featured and grilling the flank steak took considerably less time than the porterhouse would.

Home-improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowes provide these slabs of slate for like $8 for 5. Other than the feelings associated with being a baller as one grills over slate, there are some stark contrasts to grilling a la plancha as opposed to regular grilling. The slate’s hot surface yields a mahogany crust on steak, complete with browning herbs. The meat is also never exposed to the grill rack directly, so it won’t blacken in the same vein as it would otherwise. Perhaps my favorite thing about this whole process is that after you finished grilling the meat, the slate is coated with all the rich, juicy goodness that the steak leaves behind. Next, the vegetables go on, completely taking on the properties and richness from the steak before them for distinct flavor. The last piece of the puzzle is the grilled sourdough bread, rubbed with garlic and olive oil and fresh off la plancha.

A few tips for actually utilizing the slate while you grill:

1.) Rinse them with water, sans soap, as the slate is porous. You can also place the slate on the grill rack about 15-20 minutes prior to actually grilling.

2.) Even if the slate cracks (it did so the first time I utilized this technique), it can still be used. Make sure you buy slate that is thick enough to endure this process. Apply a bit of olive oil onto the slate before throwing on your various foods.

3.) Don’t lift the slate off the grill when the grill is in full flight in terms of heat. Remove the grate with the slate on top of it, using oven mitts or gloves.

4.) When cleaning after a meal, scrub it with a wire brush and wipe down with a wet (water only) paper towel.

5.) Enjoy!

3 on the Grill

Slate-Grilled Porterhouse (or Flank) Steak
Recipes taken from the June 2013 issue of Bon Appétit

3 tbsp. olive oil plus more for slate
2 (2-2 1/2″)-thick porterhouse steaks or flank steak (4 lbs. total), room temperature
1/4 cup herbes de Provence
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
16×16″ untreated natural slate floor tiles 1/4-1/3″ thick (in case one breaks)

If using a charcoal grill, prepare for high heat. Place slate on grill grates and heat (don’t worry if it splits or cracks; it can still be used). If using a gas grill, place slate on grates, then heat grill to high (cover grill while heating and grilling). Using paper towels and long-handled tongs, lightly coat slate with oil.

Sprinkle steaks with herbes de Provence and season with salt and pepper, pressing gently to adhere. Drizzle each steak with 2 tbsp. oil to moisten herbs. Grill on hot slate until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 115 degrees for medium-rare (the temperature will continue to rise a steaks rest), 10-15 minutes per side.

Transfer to a cutting board or platter and let rest 20 minutes before slicing.

Raw Flank with Herbes de Provence

Summer Vegetables
3 small Italian eggplants, (about 1 1/2 lb.), halved lengthwise
6 small beefsteak tomatoes, (about 2 lb.), halved crosswise
3 small zucchini (about 1 lb.), halved lengthwise
2 large red bell peppers (about 1 lb.), cut lengthwise into 1 1/2″ strips
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/3 cup fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

If using a charcoal grill, coals should have cooled to medium heat. If using a gas grill, reduce heat to medium-high.

Cut a small strip from rounded side of eggplant halves so they will lie flat. Combine eggplants, tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers, garlic, and rosemary on a rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with oil, season with salt and black pepper, and toss to coat. Place vegetables on slate and grill until browned and tender, 5-8 minutes per side. (Some vegetables may cook faster than others). Transfer to a platter.

Summer Vegetables 1

Summer Vegetables 2

Summer Veggies on Slate

Sourdough Bread
1 medium round loaf sourdough bread (about 1 1/2 lb.), cut into 1″ wedges
1/4 cup olive oil
garlic clove, halved
Kosher salt

If using a charcoal grill, coals should still be around medium heat. If using a gas grill, keep heat at medium-high.

Drizzle both sides of each slice of bread with oil. Place bread on slate and grill until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a serving board or plate, rub both sides of bread with garlic, and season with salt.

Serve steaks with grilled vegetables and bread alongside.

Finished flank steak, veggies, bread

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