Top Sirloin, who would have thought? For company, a crowd, or a special meal, a thick-cut sirloin (I recommend 1 1/2 inches) cooked correctly, provides plenty of tenderness and flavor for a reasonable price. And for those lacking an outdoor grill, this cut is ideal for a cast iron pan on top of the stove and then finished in the oven. Complements to Chef Anne Burrell for this easy, delicious spice combo and cooking technique.
I add vegetable strips or stems (this time mustard ends from my salad) to provide a rack under the sirloin when the cast iron pan is put into the oven. You can use any vegetable you have on hand–celery, long slices of zucchini, carrot lengths, etc. Don’t discard after cooking, they are delicious. The spices, meat juices, and hot pan will give these grilling rack vegetables sensational flavor.
“Country Natural” beef, sold at PCC, Whole Foods, and Central Markets (Ballard and Town & Country) was used in this dish at $10.99 a pound. Country Natural is a cooperative of 100 family farmers, primarily in the northwest, committed to environmental sustainability and raising responsibly-grazed cattle without antibiotics or growth hormones. No corn is used in the finishing process, only grain, alfalfa, and potatoes. 90% of the diet is through open-pasture grass feeding.
Because there isn’t much shrinkage, my $9 piece of beef netted two very generous servings and could have easily served three for lunch. The cumin and coriander add to the richness of the dish. I have made this meal for a crowd and set two pieces of sirloin in a 12 inch cast iron pan. “Lodge” brand cast iron pans are available for about $30 (for 12 inch) at Crate and Barrel, and for less at World Market. I also own a 10 inch pan and an 8 inch one for toasting spices. Your local hardware store might also carry them, as will any kitchen shop.
Turn oven to 350-375 degrees.
Remove sirloin from refrigerator, unwrap from packaging, and set on plate.
Dry toast cumin and coriander seeds and pour out on sheet of paper you will use to make a funnel. Place seed into grinder and grind. You may have extra to add at the end, or save in a jar for another day (with a lid).
Brush one side of sirloin with olive oil and cover with a layer of the toasted spices; use your hand or the back of a spoon to press down on the spices; turn meat over and repeat process.
Pour high heat oil into cast iron pan and turn heat onto medium. When oil is hot, carefully place sirloin in pan (I use long-handled tongs). Set timer for 4 minutes. After four minutes carefully turn meat over and cook another four minutes.
While meat is cooking, prepare your grilling rack. I cut the bottom five inches off the mustard leaves I was using for salad. Or slice two carrots (zucchini or ribs of celery) in half length wise. Lift up your meat with tongs and carefully place vegetable pieces in the bottom of the pan (don’t burn yourself) and then rest your beef on the vegetables and put pan in the oven. Set timer for 10 minutes.
After ten minutes take meat out and turn it over and cook for another 10 minutes. You might want to check the temperature of the meat after the first ten minutes to access doneness– rare to medium rare is 125-130 degrees on an insta-read thermometer. After twenty minutes in the oven recheck the temperature. When you get close to 115 degrees check after every few minutes. Once you reach the desired temperature, remove meat and greens from the pan and set them on the cutting board to rest for a few minutes so juices redistribute and then slice thinly.
Bitter Greens Salad:
Heat dry cast iron pan on medium.
Rinse and shake dry 6-8 leaves of escarole and 6-8 leaves of mustard and cut them in half or thirds. Add greens to the dry hot pan and toss for a minute or two until they begin to slightly cook down. Add a generous sprinkling of salt while cooking down (I used a big pinch of Maldon). The salt will reduce some of the bitterness. Remove and spread on a plate to cool so the greens don’t overcook.
Add the olive oil to the pan and peel and thinly slice a shallot and begin saute. Add 1-2 T mustard seed and cook both together until shallots reach the desired consistency. Pour over greens and add a splash of rice wine or other sweet vinegar to finish. Gently toss greens and add salt and pepper to taste.