How to Make: Skirt Steak with Iceberg Wedge

Celebrity chef Al Brown’s favorite recipe from his restaurant Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar is a celebration of secondary cuts and vegetables.

Kieran Scott

The following recipes are from Depot: The Biography of a Restaurant. In addition to its collection of approachable recipes, written by owner Al Brown and Kyle Street, the restaurant’s head chef, the books offers insight into the ways that New Zealand culture is reflected through the kitchen of one its most celebrated restaurants. Units of temperature have been converted for ease of use at home. ~$54

In 2008, celebrated chef Al Brown left Logan Brown, one of NZ’s best white-tablecloth restaurants, to open a string of restaurants that represent the laid-back ethos of New Zealand soul food. Leading the pack is the Depot Eatery and Oyster Bar in Auckland’s Inner City, where Head Chef Kyle Street serves up an eclectic menu of dishes cooked over charcoal and native NZ hardwood.

Speaking of his favorite dish at the restaurant, Brown reveals his penchant for the skirt steak, evidence of his conviction that secondary cuts and produce can shine with just a little touch of love and lot of open heat. “We cook our skirt steak over charcoals and serve it with habanero mustard for heat, tobacco onions for texture,” says Brown. Pair it with Depot’s recipe for iceberg lettuce and house-made ranch, and the dish becomes something truly special. “To me, it’s an unbelievable mouthful when you give the combination of them all together,” he says. “It’s a really humble dish, but just delicious.”

Skirt Steak

With Habanero Mustard, Tobacco Onions

“So unappreciated is the skirt, that for many years it was destined for the meat grinder — sacrilege, I say. When cooked over searing coals, no more than a fraction over rare, you will see why this steak has earned such high regard among chefs for its flavor and tenderness. This cut is from the pectoral area of the steer. Ask your butcher for thick skirt steak or hangar steak and ignore his reluctance, for he may be intending to save it for himself”. — Kyle Street

“Hands down my favorite dish on the menu, it is served at Depot with the habanero mustard on the side. The combination of this humble cut of beef, cooked over screaming hot charcoal, served with the hot mustard, the cold iceberg with ranch dressing and the crisp sweet tobacco onions is simply mind-blowing. I just can’t go past it when eating at the shop”. — Al Brown

Ingredients: Serves 6
Step 1. Habanero Mustard
1/4 cup roughly chopped shallots
1 teaspoon roughly chopped garlic
1/4 cup coriander stem or root, finely chopped
3 habanero chillies, seeds removed, roughly chopped
3/4 cup white wine vinegar
pinch salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups American “ballpark” mustard

Step 2. Tobacco Onions
canola oil for deep-frying
1 cup self-raising flour
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked sweet paprika
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
4 cups halved and thinly sliced onion

Step 3. To Cook and Serve
1kg skirt steak
canola oil for brushing
flaky sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
tobacco onions
1/2 iceberg lettuce, cut into wedges
ranch dressing
habanero mustard

Step 1. Habanero Mustard
1. In a saucepan, place all the ingredients except the American mustard. 2. Bring up to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes until the liquid is mostly reduced. 3. Remove from the heat, cool slightly, then purée with a wand blender to make a paste. 4. Fold through the American mustard, then refrigerate until required.
Step 2. Tobacco Onions
1. Preheat the oven to 210ºF. 2. Heat a deep-fryer to 350ºF. Or heat a medium-sized saucepan half-filled with oil. 3. The oil is ready when a cube of day-old bread turns golden when fried for about 1 minute. 4. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, paprika, salt and black pepper. 5. Toss the onion slices in the flour mix, then dust off any excess. 6. Deep-fry the onions in batches for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown. 7. Drain on paper towels and hold in the warm oven.
Step 3. To Cook and Serve
1. Preheat grill pan or barbecue to smoking hot. 2. Tenderize the skirt steaks by scoring both sides with a sharp knife. 3. Oil your steaks and season well with salt and pepper. 4. Cook for 2 minutes on each side, then remove from the heat to rest for a couple of minutes. 5. Slice the skirt steaks across the grain. 6. Divide up the sliced steak between six plates. 7. Top off the plates with the tobacco onions, an iceberg wedge with a generous amount of ranch dressing, and finish with a schmear of habanero mustard on the side.


Iceberg Wedge

With Ranch Dressing

“I feel iceberg is undervalued. We serve this to cut rich or fatty dishes”. — Kyle Street

“I’m all over Kyle’s sentiment regarding the humble iceberg. It is part of our New Zealand heritage, whether paired with Marmite in a simple white-bread sandwich, or the base for every salad in this country for decades. It’s all about the crunch, texture and the way it takes on delicious sharp or creamy dressings. I liken iceberg lettuce to nature’s vegetable sorbet. Crisp, clean and always refreshing!” — Al Brown

Ingredients: Serves 6
Step 1. Ranch Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped chives
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh garlic
flaky sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Step 2. To Serve
1 iceberg lettuce
flaky sea salt
ranch dressing
freshly cracked black pepper

Step 1. Ranch Dressing
1. Place the mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, white wine vinegar, chives and garlic in a suitable-sized mixing bowl. 2. Whisk together to combine, then season to taste with salt and pepper. 3. Refrigerate until required.

Step 2. To Serve
1. Wash and dry your iceberg lettuce. 2. Cut in half and remove the core, then chop the lettuce into portion-sized wedges. 3. Season the lettuce well with salt, then slather with ranch dressing and finish with cracked pepper.

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