A steak dinner requires minimal cooking skill but tastes so good! The only skills involved are cutting up a sweet potato, flipping a steak and chopping some cilantro. Juicy steak, sweet potato fries and chimichurri make a winning combination.
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What is chimichurri?
Chimichurri is a condiment popular in Argentina and Uruguay. It is traditionally made with fresh parsley, garlic, dried oregano, olive oil and a hint of vinegar. I only had fresh cilantro so I thought I’d try it, and I was so pleased with the results that I wanted to share the recipe.
There’s a cute story that the name ‘chimichurri’ comes from Englishmen asking from something spicy (‘give me curry’). I heard that story in a bar in Buenos Aires though, so I make no guarantees as to whether or not it’s true!
What if I don’t like cilantro?
If you don’t like cilantro feel free to swap it out for flat leaf parsley. You will need 1/4 cup of parsley instead of 1/4 cup of cilantro. Apparently, cilantro tastes like soap to some people.
Do I have to use red wine vinegar specifically?
There are so many different types of vinegar, but in this recipe they are not interchangeable. You need to use red wine vinegar. I tried it with apple cider vinegar and the feedback that I got from the dinner table was a polite ‘please don’t do that again’.
Tips for cooking steak
Which type of steak should I use?
Use the best steak you can afford. Organic, grass-fed filet mignon would be wonderful. However, as that can be a bit pricey, another good option for a steak dinner is top sirloin. This is the top part of the sirloin and is more tender and smaller than the bottom sirloin.
One thing to note: there are different cuts of meat in different countries. Ask your butcher for their recommendation if you’re not sure.
Allow the steak to come to room temperature
The steak should be at room temperature before you put it in the frying pan. This ensures even cooking. If the steak is cold when you put it in the pan, then the center won’t cook properly.
Pat the steak dry
Pat the steak dry with a paper towel before seasoning. This is to ensure the outer part crisps up and browns properly. If you pat it dry after seasoning, then some of the salt and pepper will be removed.
Season the steak before cooking
Samin Nosrat, author of “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”, explains that by adding salt to the meat before cooking, it allows the meat to absorb and retain water better. This makes for a much juicier steak and more margin for error in terms of overcooking the meat.
Allow resting time
It is so important to allow the steak to rest when it’s done cooking. Number one because it makes a mess if you cut into it immediately. By letting it rest, you give it time for the juices to be absorbed back into the meat. It’s also easier to cut once it has had time to rest.
Cut against the grain
When slicing the steak, cut against the grain. It slices the long fibers and makes the steak easier to chew and more tender.
Tips for making sweet potato fries
Space them out
Use two baking sheets if you need to, but make sure the fries are not touching each other on the baking sheet. If they are crowded too close together, the steam they release while cooking will make them turn soggy.
Cut the greaseproof paper to size
If the greaseproof paper is too large for the tray, the overhanging edges will burn. Alternatively, you can grease the baking sheet and skip out on the greaseproof paper altogether.
Allow them to crisp up
Leave the sweet potato fries on the baking sheet for 5 minutes after they come out of the oven. This gives them time to crisp up.
Romantic dinner for two?
If you’re making this steak dinner as a romantic dinner for two, have you considered making Sea Salt Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles for dessert?
Simple Steak Dinner with Cilantro Chimichurri
- Frying pan
- Baking sheet
- Greaseproof paper
- Chopping board
- Sharp knife
- Small bowl
- Paper towel
Steak and Sweet Potato Fries
- 2 steaks
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 sweet potatoes
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- ¼ tsp red chili flakes
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- 1 cup arugula (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
- Remove steaks from the fridge. Pat dry with paper towel then season with salt and pepper and allow to come to room temperature.
- Peel the sweet potatoes. To cut them into ¼" fries, first slice one side of the sweet potato and lay it on this flat side. Cut ¼" slices then lay these slices flat and cut them into ¼" fries.
- Arrange the fries on the baking sheet and coat with 2 tbsp of olive oil. To get the fries crispy make sure they are not touching each other. Bake for 20 mins then turn and bake for another 10-18 minutes until crisp.
- While the fries are baking, finely chop the cilantro and garlic. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, cilantro, garlic, chili flakes and salt and pepper.
- 10 minutes before the fries are cooked, heat the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, add your steak. The oil should sizzle. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of your steak and desired degree of doneness. Flip them when they are deep brown color (about 3 minutes) then cook an additional 3 minutes for medium-rare, 4-5 minutes for medium and 5-6 for well done.
- Allow the steaks to rest for 5 minutes in the pan before transferring them to the plates. This allows the juices to be absorbed into the steak and makes it juicier.
- Remove the sweet potato fries from the oven and allow to crisp up on the tray for 5 minutes while the steaks are resting.
- Transfer the steak and sweet potato fries to plates and serve with cilantro chimichurri sauce and arugula if using.