Nom Nom Paleo

Smashed Steak Skewers with Cherry Barbecue Sauce (Inspired by The Croods)

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I’ve always been a film buff. Aside from the obituaries, my favorite part of the local paper was the movie section; starting in elementary school, I’d pore over the weekend reviews to decide which flicks were worth dragging my family to see. Ever the weirdo, I vetoed my older sister’s request to see Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal and cajoled my parents into taking us to see Tootsie instead. Sure, in December of 1982, the cross-dressing jokes flew right over my eight-year-old head, but who cares? The movie got two thumbs up from Siskel & Ebert, people.

Ironically, I watch fewer grown-up flicks now than I did when I was in second grade. These days, when Henry and I venture to the cineplex, it’s usually with the boys in tow, so we stick to family-friendly fare. And recently, as we settled into our seats to watch another kiddie flick, this trailer caught my eye:



Yowza — an animated film about a prehistoric cave-dwelling clan! “Think they eat Paleo?” I whispered excitedly. The Double-Os nodded. “I think they do CrossFit, too,” my five-year-old solemnly added.

I made a mental note: We were going to catch The Croods as soon as it hit theaters.

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So when I was contacted by the movie studio a few weeks ago and asked to develop a recipe inspired by The Croods, it wasn’t hard for me to say yes. DreamWorks Animation requested something family-friendly, so I rolled up my sleeves and got to work creating a dish that’s simple, tasty, Paleo, and kid-approved: Smashed Steak Skewers with Cherry Barbecue Sauce.

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Speared hunks of beef, flattened with a heavy object and grilled over an open fire. Sounds like caveman family fare to me, don’t you think?

Trust me: If Lil-O — the pickiest eater in our house — liked ‘em, your kids’ll gobble them up, too!

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Wanna see the simple step-by-step instructions? They’re so easy even a caveman could do it!

Here’s what to hunt and gather to make 16 skewers:

For the Cherry Barbecue Sauce (Makes 1⅔ cup of sauce):

  • 2 teaspoons ghee or fat of choice
  • ½ cup minced shallot
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 (1-inch) ginger root, peeled and finely grated (I use a Microplane)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ¼ cup coconut aminos (or wheat-free tamari)
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup apple juice
  • 10 ounces frozen cherries, roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the Smashed Steak Skewers:

  • 1½-pound flank steak
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons melted ghee
  • ¼ cup scallions, thinly sliced (optional)
Here’s the step-by-step instructions:

The cherry barbecue sauce is a cinch to make and can be prepared ahead of time.

First, melt the ghee over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt and sauté until translucent (around 5 minutes).

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Stir in the garlic, ginger and tomato paste…

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…and sauté for 30 second until fragrant.

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Add the coconut aminos, vinegar, juice…

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…and cherries…

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…and bring to a boil.

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Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until the cherry mixture is thickened.

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While the sauce is simmering, stir occasionally and smush the cherries against the side of the pot.

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Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the sauce to a bowl or measuring cup and set aside.

A half hour before you want to grill your skewers, soak 16 bamboo skewers in water.

Grab your slab of flank steak and cut it into 16 pieces.

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First, cut the steak in half lengthwise (along the grain).

Next, slice the steak in half across the grain, then in fourths…

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…and finally in eighths.

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Carefully stab each slice of meat through the center with a soaked skewer.

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Now comes the fun part: Grab a hefty meat pounder or small cast iron skillet, and smash each steak skewer until it’s about ½ inch thick.

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GRRR! (THWACK!)

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I’m sure The Croods would’ve used sticks and stones, but I prefer to keep my kitchen rock-free.

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Season the beef with salt and pepper…

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…and brush both sides with melted ghee.

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Fire up your backyard grill, and cook over high heat for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.

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Let the meat skewers rest for 5 to 10 minutes…

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…before brushing on the cherry barbecue sauce.

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A garnish of fresh green scallions is optional, but it can instantly transform this rugged plate of skewers into a more refined dish.

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Serve immediately and watch your kiddos tear into them with sharp little incisors!

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Don’t forget to check out The Croods when it comes out on March 22nd!

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Full disclosure: As I mentioned above, this is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own.

Looking for more recipes? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPad® app, and in my cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel, December 2013).