This Festive Dirty Steak Salad is my new favourite campfire meal! At its core is a juicy, dirty steak cooked directly in the embers of the fire which is accompanied by some delicious festive sides.
Before you’re put off by talk of my festive dirty steak salad, let me just explain what a dirty steak is. A dirty steak is one that is cooked directly on the coals of an open fire. No pan, no griddle, just raw meat on hot ashy coals. It delivers the most intense flavour and crust and if you haven’t tried it, I implore that you do soon. Seriously delicious stuff.
And so this festive dirty steak salad is my nod to an unconventional Christmas dinner inspired by Iceland and the #PowerOfFrozen. Who says Christmas dinner needs to involve turkey, or be cooked indoors? I know a whole heap of people that, family demands aside, would rather spend the most special meal of the year in the woods. The woodsmoke and crisp December air builds an appetite far more than central heating and board games!
Festive Dirty Steak Salad
Cooked in the garden firepit on a beautifully sunny yet misty day, I spent a lovely few hours tending my coals and cooking my sides. In between tickling the fire I whizzed up a simple chimichurri sauce using frozen herbs and dried spices that took mere minutes.
One of my favourite elements of the meal were the Brussels sprouts. I used these button sprouts that were so tender due to their small size.
I defrosted them first, then heated a knob of butter in a small cast iron pan until sizzling. The sprouts went in and sat for a few minutes gaining some colour before being turned. As frozen sprouts are naturally softer than raw ones, they cooked to perfection this way and I highly recommend giving them a go. Please don’t try this with fresh sprouts – that really isn’t going to end well!
Next up I cooked these adorable (defrosted) baby asparagus wrapped in bacon. You get 6 in a box and I’m really looking forward to trying the other 3 cooked as suggested, in an oven. They are amazing! The asparagus is so tiny that again it cooks brilliantly this way.
And finally I got my coals ready for the steak. You need to keep things natural when cooking dirty steaks. Do not use briquettes, lighter fluid or firelighters as this will taint your steak and possibly add toxins to your food. I used a restaurant grade charcoal from Iglu, a Cornish company that went out of their way to arrange an emergency weekend delivery for my festive feast. Big thanks to all involved in responding to my BBQ emergency, I owe you all a pint :)
Cooking Steak on hot coals
Wait for the coals to get ashy and white. This means they are hot and will give you the best results. Get a heavy based frying pan and bash the coals to flatten them out. This limits the amount of oxygen around the meat (stopping flare ups that may burn your steak) and give a better ratio of ember to steak.
When the coals are pretty level, flap vigorously with a piece of cardboard or similar to blow off most of the ash and heat the coals up a little more. Then slap those steaks directly onto the embers and wait. Do not touch them for the first 2 minutes of cooking time, as you want to give the meat time to caramelise and get some good crust happening. I’m using Iceland’s grass fed Gaucho Steakhouse Sirloin Steak. Defrost overnight in the fridge & let stand at room temperature for an hour before cooking for best results. Then just before cooking, sprinkle generously with salt.
After the longest 2 minutes of your life, flip the steaks over and let cook for another 2 minutes on the other side. If there are any coals stuck to the steak, just knock them off with your tongs. Small amounts of ash are also fine and will no doubt put hairs on your chest. My steak was a little under an inch thick and I cooked for a total of 6 minutes to get this medium rare finish. If you want it less pink, cook for a couple of minutes extra.
Let the steak rest on a warm plate and covered with foil for 3 or 4 minutes. Then slice thinly and top the festive salad and enjoy your unconventional Festive Dirty Steak Salad.
if you have room for afters…
Oh, and if you need dessert advice for your unconventional Christmas dinner, grab one of these Christmas puds when you do your Iceland shop. Cook it in a microwave according to the instructions and let it go cold, still in the tub. Take to the woods and when your festive dirty steak salad is all but a memory, heat up a little more butter in that cast iron pan. Cut slices of the pud and fry in the butter (hey, it’s Chrismtas – calories don’t count!).
If you can tolerate dairy, serve with this Brandy cream and I promise the angels will start singing :)
- 50 g pot of chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon chopped red chilli
- 2 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 lemon juice
- 20 Button Brussels Sprouts defrosted
- 1 knob Butter
- 3 Baby asparagus bundles wrapped in bacon defrosted
- 400 g sirloin steaks 2 x 200g steaks
- Fresh baby spinach leaves
- Pomegranate seeds
Whizz up all the ingredients in a blender. Add a little more oil or lemon juice if too thick.
Heat the knob of butter in a small pan until sizzling. Fry the sprouts slowly, letting the colour build up. Repeat with the asparagus and bacon bundles, ensuring the bacon is cooked through.
Season both sides of each steak generously with salt just before placing on the coals. Cook for 6 - 9 minutes total cooking time, depending on 'doneness' required.
Let rest for a few minutes before slicing thinly.
Pile up a warm plate with the sides, baby spinach, steak strips and pomegranate seeds and serve with the bowl of chimichurri sauce.
Huge festive thanks to Iceland for sponsoring this recipe and allowing me to continue bringing you tasty content, for free. As always all thoughts, and leftovers, are my own.
Please note that this is a traditional style of cooking that depends on the quality of the charcoal used. Please ensure you only use restaurant grade coals, no chemical fluid or firelighters and that you cook meat to the correct temperature. All meat available at Iceland comes with optimum cooking guidelines and should be adhered to if cooking for children, pregnant women or the elderly.