Some friends are family; you have no choice but to have them in your life. You love them, you hate them, you would hurt whoever hurts them, love whoever loves them.
Let’s go back in time and space to Lake Nacimiento, CA, 1986…say, October-ish. A close group of married couples and their young kids are having an incredible trip at the lake; campers, tents, boats, and all. Scantily clad, tanned children are running around and splashing in the water, the defining mark of zinc oxide smothered on top of their noses. The smell of campfire and roasting marshmallows is intoxicating, the beer flows freely and the laughter never ends. There is a palpable magic in the air, a sense of everlasting youth and the love of growing older, nostalgia and bright futures, all rolled into one barley describable feeling, hovering, just within reach.
I mean, really, is it even surprising to state that 9 months later out popped 3 babies? My first best friend, myself, and my cousin, were all born in two week successions of each other. We have that trip at Lake Nacimiento to thank for each one of our existences.
Time goes by and people grow. We live, we learn, and we love. We laugh, we cry, we hurt, and most importantly, we dance. Time and growth should be celebrated; life should be celebrated. Celebrations should naturally coincide with food, really, really, good food. Food made with love and memories.
This was a meal to celebrate the birth of a friend, my first best friend.
And chocolate cake….that’s good too.
Grilled Sirloin Flap with Strawberry Salsa and Chipotle Balsamic Reduction
I must say that this meal was intended to use flank steak. The market was out, so the sirloin flap was the next best choice. It was really good, but my heart still belongs to my beloved flank. So I really do recommend the flank steak if it’s available to you.
And a quick note on the measurements for chipotle in adobo; I take a can of chipotle peppers in adobo and pour the adobo into a food processor, seed the peppers, then put those in as well. I then pulse it all up and use that paste for all of the applications below.
1 2 pound sirloin flap steak
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons chipotle in adobo
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
¼ cup canola or vegetable oil
salt & pepper
2 cups chopped strawberries
½ cup diced red onion
1 radish, diced
1 red jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt
Balsamic Chipotle Reduction
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo
1 tablespoon honey
For the steak, pound it out with a meat tenderizer. I try and do mine so that the steak ends up being one uniform thickness. Mix all of the marinade ingredients (minus the salt and pepper) and marinate for 20 minutes or up to 12 hours.
In the meantime, mix all of the ingredients for the salsa, then let sit in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to let the flavors develop. Now, if you think strawberry salsa is crazy, just trust me on this. When you have some beautiful in-season berries lying around, give it a shot. It’s one of those really surprising things that just works, even though you wouldn’t think it would.
The reduction is quite simple. Bring the ingredients to a boil then simmer over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Make sure to stir a little bit throughout so that the honey doesn’t stick to the bottom. Once it is a thick and syrupy consistency, you’re good to go.
Let your steak come to room temperature before cooking, and liberally sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides. Preheat the grill on high for about 15 minutes. Once preheated set the burners to medium-high and place your steak on the grill. It should need about 7 minutes per side for medium to medium rare.
This is really beautiful to serve family style. Once I let my meat rest for at least 10 minutes, I slice it against the grain and fan it out over a bed of watercress. Top with the salsa and drizzle the reduction over the top.
Sweet, savory, spicy; a multitude of joy and surprise in each bite. This is one for the ones you love. One to make memories with. Enjoy.