There’s a reason it’s called a Challenge

by zydecopaws on December 20, 2010

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This month the 4-ingredient Challenge this lived up to its name. You may not be able to tell, but those are kumquats and beets you see in the background of the picture above. Add in flank steak and gnocchi, and you have the December version of an outdoor cook’s nightmare.

The first challenge was just getting the ingredients together. Kumquats turn out to be impossible to find in local groceries and I had to rely on my kumquat monger and fellow Challenge participant to ship them up to me. Thanks Rob!

I’ve also never made gnocchi before (much less what to do with a kumquat) and wasn’t about to try it from scratch for this meal. And it turns out fresh beets are almost as scarce this time of year. I had to go to three different grocery stores before the remaining ingredients were secured for the meal.

The next challenge was to figure out how in the heck these four things could be combined in a single meal. I’ve never seen Asian-Italian fusion (kumquats and gnocchi), and beets don’t seem to be consumed by either of these cultures. Flank steak is somewhat more versatile, but most recipes I found leaned towards Mexican dishes. I finally settled on combining the beets and kumquats into a warm beet salad; from there the goal was to use the flank steak and gnocchi in as simple a manner as possible.

The beets and kumquats were up first. Well, not really, as the flank steak had already spent a couple of hours in a marinade of red wine, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and thyme. But they were going on the grill to roast well before the steak did. The beets were thoroughly washed, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch chunks, and unceremoniously dumped into a small foil pan. About a dozen kumquats were sliced thinly and added to the top, followed by about two tablespoons of chopped ginger. Enough red wine was added to just cover the bottom of the foil pan, and the whole thing was covered up with foil and put on Bubba Ho-Keg to roast.

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The beets spent about 25 minutes on the grill at 450°F. The flank steak was added to the grill, and after about six minutes per side was a nice 135°F in the center.

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In the meantime, a handful of beet greens were chopped and dropped with some bacon bits into a small amount of bacon grease. They were stirred and removed from the heat in less than a minute, then added to the beet/kumquat mixture and stirred in well. The gnocchi was boiled and served with a simple sage butter (finely chopped fresh sage sauteed in melted butter until the butter began to brown). The steak was sliced and served with crumbled gorgonzola cheese.

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The results were surprisingly good. All of the dishes had very strong and distinct flavors that didn’t clash. If I had to do it over again, the only thing I would have changed would be to sprinkle the bacon bits over the top of the beets rather than incorporating them in the dish. Oh, and that gorgonzola cheese would have also made its way to the beet salad as well; it was delicious on the beef, but even better on the salad.

And the other thing I would change is I wouldn’t let my food get cold while taking pictures…

Don’t forget to check out how my fellow bloggers fared with this month’s challenge. I’m sure they won’t disappoint.

About the “On Our Grills” 4 Ingredient Challenge Bloggers

The BBQ Grail
The BBQ Grail website was created in 2007, initially to document the author’s quest to find the perfect backyard BBQ experience. Since that time The BBQ Grail has become one of the more popular BBQ blogs on the internet and is listed on Alltop.com as one of the top BBQ blogs.

Into the Flames
Rob launched Into The Flames in the summer of 2010 as a way to share his passion for cooking, eating, and exploring food.

Grill Adventures by Broadcast Marc
Grill Adventures by broadcastmarc was started in March of 2010. According to the author, he started the BBQ thing when he was 30, before that they ate a lot outside and had fun, but when kids came into their life they started serious cooking. Most of it is really healthy. The grill has a special place in his heart because they love to do things outside. Everything he makes is an adventure, and sometimes they use the books. They try to grill as much as they can year round.

Bob’s Brew and ‘Que
Bob started Bob’s Brew and ‘Que in August of 2009 with the intent of sharing his views on food and drink. Originally focused on BBQ and Homebrew, it was inevitable that the influences of his upbringing in the San Francisco Bay Area and it’s wealth of ingredients as well as his heritage as an American of Japanese ancestry would help focus his blog, as it has his approach to food and drink.

Nibble Me This
Nibble Me This is Chris Grove’s blog about his misadventures in live fire cooking. ”I have no culinary training….I’m just entertaining myself with fire and food”.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Rob December 20, 2010 at 8:28 am

Beautiful cook Paul. I like the olorful roasted beet salad with kumquats and as always your meet looks perfectly done off the grill. The gorgonzola is a great idea – a classic match to meat and beets. I ate my cold as well…

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zydecopaws December 20, 2010 at 8:37 am

That’s the problem with making things look nice, especially when you have a cold kitchen like ours. In spite of that it still tasted good, but I’m sure that those in the family with less photogenic plates enjoyed the meal more than I did… ;)

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Marc December 20, 2010 at 8:50 am

Wow looks great…there were absolutely no kumquats to get at this side of the ocean….your dish look just great !!! hope the januari “challenge” is much much easy’er …

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zydecopaws December 20, 2010 at 9:03 am

Thanks. We couldn’t find any up here either, so we enlisted the assistance of our kumquat monger (Rob). And then the week after my wife found some in one of the local specialty produce stores. Of course, by then it was too late…

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Bob December 20, 2010 at 10:05 am

Yes, these four ingredients sure threw me for a loop at first. That Gorgonzola looks like a great addition. I like the looks of that plate.

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The BBQ Grail December 20, 2010 at 11:47 am

Excellent job! Kumquats were a challenge, that’s for sure. Great job all the way around.

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GYSC December 20, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Wow! I am not sure if you a more an artist or a magician with what you are able to come up with! Great stuff.

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Chris December 23, 2010 at 6:55 am

“I’ve never seen Asian-Italian fusion (kumquats and gnocchi), and beets don’t seem to be consumed by either of these cultures.”

That was the exact thought that I had and struggled with when trying to figure out how to put mine together. It truly was a challenge this month to try to pull it all together as one dish.

You nailed it, Paul! (Plus I like the fact that you used store bought gnocchi too! )

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zydecopaws December 23, 2010 at 11:36 am

Thanks. There was no way I was going to try to make gnocchi from scratch with all the other challenges associated with this cook. Although I’ve grown and canned/pickled beets before, I don’t normally buy them fresh and cook them for same-day eating. And I don’t think I’d ever even seen a kumquat before those Rob sent showed up in the mail.

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