This recipe will work best if you use Greek yogurt, which is thicker and creamier than other yogurts and has a consistency like that of sour cream. You may find it in some markets, such as Trader Joe’s, and in most Arabic, Greek, or Armenian shops. Old Chatham Sheepherding Company makes good, tangy yogurt you can use as a substitute (available online or at Whole Foods markets). For this recipe, the yogurt doesn’t have to be thick, but it does need to be tangy and made with rich, whole milk.
- Yields: 6 to 8 servings
- 4 cups canned diced tomatoes, drained (28 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons chopped garlic (about 2 cloves)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 long, thin, green sweet or hot peppers, or 2 green bell peppers
- 4 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground Aleppo chiles or medium-hot paprika
- 3 pounds skirt steak, trimmed of fat and any silver skin, and cut into 6- to 8-inch-long pieces
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 2 large pita breads, cut in half
- Plain Greek or other whole-milk yogurt, for garnish
- Heat the oven to 375°F.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, simmer the tomato chunks with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the garlic, and the salt and pepper for about 20 minutes, until the tomatoes break down and become soft and saucy.
- Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt one stick of the butter over low heat and simmer for about 12 minutes until it turns nut-brown and smells like hazelnuts. The solids will begin to separate and then fall to the bottom. Butter turns from brown to black very quickly, so watch closely. Immediately remove the butter from the heat, and strain through a fine sieve into a dry container. Set aside to cool. The butter is very hot, so be careful not to spill any water in it as it cools; otherwise, the butter will spit and bubble, the way hot oil does.
- Stir half of the caramelized butter into the tomato sauce and purée it in a blender until smooth. Reseason it with salt and pepper; set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, put the peppers in the remaining 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and season them with salt and pepper. Place the peppers on a baking sheet, and roast them in the oven until they are soft and collapsed, 8 to 10 minutes. Set them aside but keep them warm.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the cumin with the oregano and Aleppo chiles, and sprinkle the skirt steaks evenly on both sides with the spice mixture.
- Grill the steaks over charcoal, or sear them as follows: In a large, heavy skillet or cast iron pan over medium-high heat, mix 1/2 tablespoon of the canola oil and 1/2 tablespoon of the remaining butter. When the butter turns brown, add the steaks and sear them on the first side, allowing them to brown for about 5 minutes. Lower the heat if the pan becomes too smoky or if the spices begin to burn. Flip the steaks and cook for another 5 minutes if you want them more well done. Put them on a platter to rest and wipe out the pan. Brown the remaining steaks with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter and canola oil.
- Arrange the pita halves on a platter. Remove the steaks from the pan and rest them on the pita. As the meat rests, the juices will soak into the bread. Top with the tomato sauce, yogurt, and peppers, and serve with the extra caramelized butter to drizzle over all.
Beverage pairing: A dry but fleshy rosé will work beautifully with this dish. Alternatively, try a snappy Garnacha from the Calatayud region of northern Spain like the 2004 Yasa Garnacha.