Inside the Skirt

stuffed skirt steaks - 1

I had a question about whether I actually attended the World’s Championship Chili Cookoff — and the answer is a resounding YES, I was actually there all 3 days! I saw, smelled and tasted (not to mention wore!) more chili in those 3 days than I would normally in a year, and loved every single minute of it.

In addition to the chili competition, there were various vendors and a couple of food demonstrations. I had the privilege to work with one of the Celebrity Chefs, Sharone Hakman, owner of a barbecue sauce company called Hak’s BBQ Sauces (all his own creations). The dish was: Chili & Blue Cheese Stuffed Skirt Steaks and the recipe is below.

In the hope that the World’s Championship Chili Cookoff returns to Palm Springs next year, I strongly urge you to attend – it’s quite an experience. Friday was “Home Style” chili; Saturday was “Salsa Verde” chili; and Sunday was “Restaurant Style”. Each had its merits and they all differed in taste, texture and heat.

Most were made of ground beef, though shredded and diced beef did appear. One group (the Vikings) served a shredded beef chili accompanied with a topping of jalapeno pepper, onion and salt that was an interesting difference. They also had moose jerky – more tender and flavorful than the usual beef jerky we find in the local markets.

Restaurants sampled their chili and offered it for sale – the contestants only sampled theirs. (A few days later, I spoke to one of the judges, Ruta Lee, who said judging the chili was one of the hardest things she ever did!). The hardest part for me was deciding whose chili to taste next!

Just a note – usually the picture at the top of this blog truly represents what the dish should look like. Today – not so much! We were unable to load the picture of the actual dish that Chef Sherone Hakman and I made due to some computer glitch – so this one shows one from some time last year where I used spinach instead of peppers and slices of garlic. The mint scattered around the dish was to offset the strong smell of garlic-breath! (Not everyone is the garlic freak that I am!)

Chili & Blue Cheese Stuffed Skirt Steaks

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 4 skirt steaks, trimmed of excess fat
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 3 oz. blue cheese or Stilton, broken into chunks

Roast peppers on a grill (smoke them if you can) or under the broiler until they are blistered on all sides, turning frequently.

When smoking/roasting is complete, place in paper bag, close bag and let rest until cool. Once peppers are cool, using a paper towel, remove charred skin. (Don’t try to do this when the peppers are raw, or fresh off the grill – let them cool and the skins will come off easily.)

Slit peppers open and remove ribs and seeds.. (NOTE: If you want these spicy, leave some or all of the jalapeno and/or poblano seeds but still remove the ribs. The heat is mainly in the seeds.) Thinly slice each of the peppers, keeping them separate on your chopping board or platter and dividing them each into 4 equal portions.

Taking 1 skirt steak at a time, salt and pepper both sides generously. At one short end, place 1/4th of of the red bell pepper slices, 1/4th of the poblano slices and 1/4th of the slices of the jalapeno. Divide the blue cheese pieces equally into 4 sections; scatter one section over the peppers. Begin to roll the skirt steak from the small end where the peppers are, rolling as tightly as you can, until the whole steak is rolled up. Set aside, seam side down. Repeat for the other 3 steaks. If you’ve rolled them tightly, you shouldn’t need to secure them with toothpicks. The cheese should hold them together.

Be sure your grill is clean before beginning to heat it. Oil it lightly. Set each roll, seam side down and grill over medium heat until done to your liking, turning occasionally so that it grills evenly.

When done, let sit, covered with foil, for about 5  minutes, then cut each roll in half. on the diagonal. Garnish with crisply fried garlic slices and sautéed onions.

Serves 4-6

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