preserved lemon

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto, pears and celery root

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on millys-kitchen.com

Hello from Paris!

I hope you had a beautiful Christmas. I was a bit under the weather/jet-lagged, so Beau and I had a pretty mellow holiday: a walk over to Notre Dame to hear the Christmas bells toll, a leisurely stroll through the Luxembourg gardens with a stop for coffee at the Café de Flore. A seafood extravaganza for two and early to bed. We didn’t even pop the bottle of champagne we bought!

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on millys-kitchen.com
Salt-Roasted Beef with Lemon-Hazelnut Pesto, Pears and Celery Root

But I’m planning to make up for our rather subdued Christmas celebration in a few days. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better place to ring in the new year than the city of light. Beau and I have a table booked at one of our favorite restaurants. There will be oysters. There will be champagne. There will be all manner of other deliciousness and then there will be heading out into the chill to watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle over the city. 

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on millys-kitchen.com
salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on millys-kitchen.com

But before all that, let’s talk about your New Year’s Eve dinner. 

If I were home, I’d be fixing this Salt-Roasted Beef with Lemon-Hazelnut Pesto, Pears and Celery Root. My friend Kyle and I served this at the pop-up dinner we hosted earlier this month. This beauty is Kyle’s invention. How he comes up with such creative dishes, I have no idea. Also, it takes him about two seconds to whip up an entire menu. Without cracking a cookbook. While I am jealous, I am also thrilled to be the beneficiary of his chef-brain. And even more thrilled that I got to eat this dish three times in one month: once while we were testing it, once at the dinner and again when I shot it for the blog with my friend Carrie

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on millys-kitchen.com

This roast sits at the intersection of easy and impressive. Exactly what you want on a holiday where you should be sipping champagne with your guests instead of sweating away in the kitchen. The salt crust seasons the meat while sealing in all the delicious juices. The roasted pears and celery root are a meltingly soft, subtly sweet base for the beef--far sexier than mashed potatoes. And the bright, herby pesto makes it all sing. Plus, how often do you get to smash open your meal with a hammer? Very exciting stuff.

However you decide to ring in 2017, I hope it brings you joy. Thank you for following along here and for all your kind comments and emails over the past year. You make this adventure I’m on so much more fun! 

With much love,

Olaiya


Salt-Roasted Beef with Lemon-Hazelnut Pesto, Pears and Celery Root

  • 2-3 lb boneless cross-rib roast (also known as a flat iron roast)
  • 6 cups kosher salt
  • 3 egg whites
  • ½ cup cold water
  • Freshly-grated black pepper
  • 1 recipe Lemon-Hazelnut Pesto (below)
  • 1 recipe Roasted Pears and Celery Root (below)

Lemon-Hazelnut Pesto

  • ½ cup hazelnuts
  • ¼ cup mint, gently packed
  • ¼ cup parsley, gently packed
  • ¼ cup cilantro, gently packed
  • 2 tablespoons dill
  • 1 preserved lemon
  • ¼ cup minced shallot (about 1 large)
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon 
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup hazelnut or olive oil

 

Pears and Celery Root

  • 2 slightly underripe pears
  • 1 large celery root
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

 

*Notes: My wonderful neighborhood butcher turned me onto the boneless cross-rib (or flat iron) roast called for in this recipe. I love this cut because it’s flavorful and a great value when you’re feeding a crowd. It does have more connective tissue and marbling in it than some other cuts (sort of like a prime rib roast). If that’s not your thing, you might want to consider a different cut of beef. They’re considerably more expensive, but a tenderloin roast or strip roast never disappoint. 

- If you roast or grill a larger cut of meat even once a year, I recommend you purchase a corded meat thermometer like this one. You stick the probe in the middle of your roast, while the display sits on the countertop by your oven. Set the desired temperature and it will beep when your meat is ready. No opening the oven door and letting out the precious heat. No guessing as to when your roast will be the exact doneness you like. A corded thermometer will take your roast game to a whole new level. 

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on millys-kitchen.com

Remove the beef from the fridge about an hour before you want to cook it so it can warm up slightly.

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed sheet pan and toast until the nuts turn golden-brown and fragrant, 8-12 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool. When cool, roughly chop the nuts or crush them with the side of a chef’s knife or with a mortar and pestle (no need to peel). Place the nuts in a medium bowl. Roughly chop the herbs and add them to the bowl. Cut the preserved lemon into quarters and scoop out the flesh and toss or reserve for another use. Finely dice the peel and add it to the bowl. Add the minced shallot, lemon zest and juice, salt and olive oil and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Set aside to let the flavors come together.

To prepare the beef, mix the salt, egg whites and water in a large bowl until the salt is evenly moistened. Place a thin layer of the salt mixture just wider than your beef roast on a rimmed sheet pan. Place the beef on top of this layer and generously sprinkle with black pepper. Use the rest of the salt mixture to cover the roast, pressing to seal the beef in. Place in the oven and roast to desired doneness: 120°F for rare, 125°F for medium rare, 130°F for medium. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest, without breaking open the salt crust. (Don't worry if the crust has a few cracks in it when it comes out of the oven; that's fine.) Rest the beef for at least 15 minutes before you crack open the crust and slice it. 

While the beef is roasting, prepare the pears and celery root. Remove the skin and any roots from the celery root and slice into ⅓-inch thick pieces. Core the pears and slice into ⅓-inch thick pieces. Place the pears and celery root on a parchment-lined rimmed sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and  toss with olive oil to coat. When the roast is about 10 degrees under the desired doneness, place the pears and celery root in the oven. When you remove the beef, increase the oven temperature to 475°F and roast until the pears and celery root are tender and golden brown, turning occasionally, 30-35 minutes. 

When the pears and celery root are done, crack open the salt crust on the beef using a rolling pin, meat mallet or hammer. Brush the salt off the beef and slice. Transfer the roasted pears and celery root and the beef to a serving platter. Spoon some of the pesto over the beef and serve immediately, passing the rest of the pesto alongside. 

Makes 6-8 servings.

Recipe by Kyle Wisner

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on millys-kitchen.com

grilled hanger steaks with asparagus, spring onions and preserved lemon relish

grilled hanger steak with asparagus, spring onions and preserved lemon relish via millys-kitchen.com
grilled hanger steak with asparagus, spring onions and preserved lemon relish via millys-kitchen.com

If you’ve been following along here for a while, you know I’m someone who loves to make unrealistically grandiose plans. I’ve got list upon list brimming with big ideas for improving the house, the yard, this blog, my photography skills, my wardrobe and my general person (among other projects).

I’m itching to completely tear up the yard of our new house and transform it into the just-unkempt-enough cottage garden I’ve been dreaming of for over a decade. I want to rip out the kitchen floor, teach myself to lay tile and put down handmade hex tile from Morocco. I want to browse Pinterest from top to bottom until I finally find THE haircut for my unruly curls. I want to get up at dawn every morning to catch the day’s first rays with my film camera. I want to string lights from the trees in our backyard and host large, raucous dinner parties every weekend.

grilled hanger steak with asparagus, spring onions and preserved lemon relish via millys-kitchen.com
grilled hanger steak with asparagus, spring onions and preserved lemon relish via millys-kitchen.com
grilled hanger steak with asparagus, spring onions and preserved lemon relish via millys-kitchen.com

A past version of me would be spending the evening mapping out my plan of attack for all these summer projects rather than writing this blog post. There would be lots of lists and diagrams. Maybe even a full-on crazy wall like the ones you see in the movies with maps and mysterious photos and lots of zig-zagging red string.

But I’ve got a different plan this year. My plan is something called Operation Summer Simplicity. It involves letting the yard and garden do their thing for a season to see what’s what. It involves living with the perfectly fine kitchen floor I have until I decide what I really want. It involves occasionally getting up early to shoot with my film camera. Operation Summer Simplicity is all about leaving enough space in my days that I can actually enjoy the one truly phenomenal season we get here in Seattle. 

grilled hanger steak with asparagus, spring onions and preserved lemon relish via millys-kitchen.com
grilled hanger steak with asparagus, spring onions and preserved lemon relish via millys-kitchen.com

While I’m pretty sure there won’t be a weekly dinner club happening in my back yard, having friends over for an al fresco meal is one of the highlights of summer for me. To that end, I’ve decided I need an uncomplicated approach to hosting dinners here at the house. That’s where my trusty Weber grill comes into play. Fire it up, throw on a beautiful cut of meat and some seasonal vegetables, uncork a bottle of wine and you’re doing summer right. 

So know this, friends: if the weather is warm and you come to my house for dinner, you will very likely be eating something from the grill. Something like this Hanger Steak with Asparagus, Spring Onions and Preserved Lemon Relish, for example.

grilled hanger steak with asparagus, spring onions and preserved lemon relish via millys-kitchen.com

I had a chance to test this recipe out a couple weeks ago when our friends Alex, Kelsey, Carlos and Susanna came over for dinner on an unseasonably warm evening and I have to say it was perhaps the easiest, breeziest dinner party I’ve ever thrown. Of course that's partly because we had invited some of our chillest friends. But I'm going to give the Weber credit for the rest. Score victory number one for Operation Summer Simplicity. 


Grilled Hanger Steaks with Asparagus, Spring Onions and Preserved Lemon Relish

  • 2 hanger steaks, about one lb. each, patted dry with paper towels
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 1 ½ lbs asparagus (buy the fatests stalks you can find so they don't fall through the grill grate)
  • 6-8 thin spring onions
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 recipe Preserved Lemon Relish (see below)
  • Special equipment: a corded instant-read thermometer

*Notes: Ideally you want to salt the steaks at least 4 hours before you intend to grill them. If you forget or don’t have enough time, it’s not the end of the world, but salting the steaks in advance helps to season and tenderize them, so it’s worth the extra step. The steaks can be salted up to 24 hours in advance. 

- A corded instant-read thermometer may seem fussy, but unless you’re a professional, it’s really the only way to cook your steak perfectly every time. Bonus: you won’t have to open the oven door or grill lid a gazillion times and let all the heat escape while you’re cooking.

- Here's a great list of tips for grilling. Here's another.

grilled hanger steak with asparagus, spring onions and preserved lemon relish via millys-kitchen.com


At least 4 hours before you intend to grill the steaks, sprinkle them very generously with about 2 teaspoons of salt each. Lay the steaks on a plate and place them, uncovered, in the refrigerator. If you think of it, turn them over once or twice while they're hanging out in the fridge. This allows the surface to dry out more, which leads to better browning on the grill. Remove the steaks from the refrigerator about an hour before you intend to grill them and let them sit at room temperature.

Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and place them on a rimmed sheet pan. Trim any wilted ends from the onion greens. If they're long cut the green tops off the onions along with a bit of the pale green or white part to hold them together. Cut the hairs from the root-end of the onions, but leave enough of the root to hold the onions together. Cut the bulb end in half lengthwise if it's thick. Place the onion tops and bulbs on the sheet pan with the asparagus, keeping them separate. Pour enough olive oil on the asparagus and onions to coat them well and use your hands to rub the oil onto the vegetables, especially the tips of the asparagus. Generously sprinkle with salt.

Use your hands or a silicone pastry brush to generously coat the steaks with oil. Insert the thermometer into the center of one of the steaks. Take care not to angle it up or down or you'll get a false reading.

grilled hanger steak with asparagus, spring onions and preserved lemon relish via millys-kitchen.com

If you are using a gas grill: Light your grill. Turn all the burners to high and preheat the grill with the lid down until it is very hot, 10-15 minutes. 

Place your onions on the grill and cook without turning until they have nice char marks on one side and are starting to soften, 3-5 minutes depending on how hot your grill is. Turn the onions over then place your steaks and asparagus on the grill. Cook the asparagus, turning as needed until they are lightly charred and cooked through. The cook time for your asparagus will vary depending on their thickness. Check them often and take care not to let them get soggy, the goal is bright green, crisp-tender stalks. Remove the asparagus to the sheet pan when they’re done. Continue to cook the onions, turning as needed until they are soft and cooked through then place them on the sheet pan with the asparagus.

Cook your steaks until they are nicely browned and char marks appear on one side, about 2-4 minutes. Turn the steaks and cook until char marks appear on the other side, about 2-4 minutes more. Turn all the burners to medium-low, close the lid on the grill and continue to cook until the steaks reach 115° for rare, 120-125° for medium-rare or 130°-135° for medium. (The steaks will continue to rise in temperature as they rest.) Remove the steaks from the grill and rest for 5 minutes. Slice steaks and serve with grilled vegetables and Preserved Lemon Relish.

If you are using a charcoal grill: Build a 2-level fire in your grill like this (scroll down to number 5). Once your coals are hot and covered in ash, set the grill rack in place, cover the grill and let the rack heat for about 5 minutes.

When the grill rack is hot, grill your veggies as above. When they are almost done, move them to the cooler side of the grill to finish cooking, then place your steaks on the hotter side of the grill. Remove the vegetables to the sheet pan when done. Cook the steaks, uncovered, until they are nicely browned and char marks appear on one side, about 2-3 minutes. Turn the steaks and cook until char marks appear on the other side, about 2-3 minutes more. Move the steaks to the cooler half of the grill and continue to cook to desired doneness (see temperatures above). Remove the steaks from the grill and rest for 5 minutes. Slice steaks and serve with grilled vegetables and Preserved Lemon Relish.

Makes 4 servings.


Preserved Lemon Relish

  • 2 preserved lemons
  • 4 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup mint leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon chile flakes, or to taste
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt, to taste
grilled hanger steak with asparagus, spring onions and preserved lemon relish via millys-kitchen.com

Run the lemons under cold water to remove excess brine then quarter them. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon and discard. Finely chop the preserved lemon skin and place in a small bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients except the salt and stir well to combine. Taste and add salt if necessary. (Some preserved lemons are salty enough you won't need to add salt.)

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.