These Cold Meat Recipes Are Just as Good as Hot (or Even Better)

These Cold Meat Recipes Are Just as Good as Hot (or Even Better)
Flank steak, cold? Gooood. (Photo: CTHB, Shutterstock)

“It’s too hot to eat” is a sentiment Caribbean folk know too well, especially in August, though admittedly it’s often said but rarely abided by. Yet with continual heat waves sweeping across the US, we must be mindful of our ecological footprints and utilise various strategies for staying cool besides putting the AC on full blast. Cue: cold meals (and I don’t mean cereal).

Some people refuse to eat cold food, salads included, but hear me out: There are more enticing, more satisfying meals that we can enjoy cold, especially in summer months. Here are some of my go-to dishes, all of which delighted even the most demanding clients when I was a chef catering outdoor summer events.

Chimichurri Flank Steak Salad

In the early aughts, flank steaks — bavette, if you’re fancy — were all the rage. You were hard-pressed to find a TV chef who wasn’t extolling its virtues, one of which used to be its affordability. Increased popularity has driven flank steak prices up, but that doesn’t negate the fact that this cut does well with marinades, is easy to cook, and tastes great cold. The chimichurri sauce, which is by no means traditional, does double duty as marinade and dressing, offering a taste of summer with every bite.

Ingredients:

For the chimichurri sauce:

  • 1¼ cups olive oil
  • 1½ cups Italian parsley, chopped
  • ½ cup coriander, chopped
  • ¼ cup mint, chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 serrano chilli pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • Zest of one lemon

For the steak:

  • 1 1kg flank steak, trimmed (skin and membrane removed)

For the salad:

  • 1 box of organic spring mix (or whatever leafy greens you prefer)
  • 1 pint of cherry or teardrop tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 cup gorgonzola (or feta), crumbled

Place the chimichurri sauce ingredients in a food processor or bullet thingamajig and pulse until you have a coarse mixture. Do not puree!

Use half of the mixture to smother the flank steak and place it in the refrigerator for at least two hours, preferably overnight. On a hot grill or in an oven set on broil, cook the steak for approximately four minutes per side. Bring to room temp and pop it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

To assemble: toss the spring mix and tomatoes in half of the remaining chimichurri. Thinly slice the cold steak and put on top of the greens and tomatoes, drizzle on the remaining dressing, and top with cheese.

Salmon with Asparagus and Avocado Crema

There’s something I find comforting about a cold piece of salmon, which resulted in my somewhat ill-advised sashimi phase. (The amount of money I spent on sushi that summer could have kept a former Soviet country up and running, but I digress.) Cold grilled salmon is exceptionally versatile. You can use it in sandwiches, flake it and tossed with pasta, or serve it atop a pile of leafy greens. This dish sees grilled fillets accompanied by lemony sautéed asparagus and topped with herbaceous avocado crema.

Ingredients:

For the salmon:

  • 2 100g salmon fillets, skin removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

For the asparagus:

  • 2 bundles of asparagus, approximately 16-18 spears
  • ¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter, salted
  • Zest of one lemon

For the avocado crema:

  • 1 Hass avocado
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

For the salmon: combine the garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, herbs, and spices and smother the salmon with it. Let it marinate for an hour before placing the fillets on a nonstick baking tray in an oven heated to 230C for 12 minutes to reach medium doneness — the filets should have a deep pink, cool, and firm centre surrounded by light pink flaky flesh. Bring to room temperature before refrigerating until ready to serve.

For the asparagus: Sauté the asparagus and lemon zest in the butter until the spears are tender-crisp (around four minutes). Sprinkle with parsley, remove from pan and refrigerate.

For the crema: place all the ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.

When you’re ready to serve, equally divide the asparagus onto (preferably chilled) plates and place a piece of salmon on top or each portion. Drizzle on the avocado crema.

Honey-Cilantro Chicken Thighs

This is ideal picnic food. Eat on its own, or serve with sliced Persian cucumbers tossed in a couple of tablespoons of furikake seasoning.

Ingredients:

  • 4 bone-in skinless chicken thighs
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup green onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon red chilli flakes

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and toss. Place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to marinate.

Preheat an oven to 200C Place chicken thighs on a foil-lined baking tray and bake for 35 minutes, brushing on more of the marinade every five minutes until the thickest part of the chicken thigh reaches an internal temperature of 70C.

Shrimp with Noodles

I don’t know about you, but I love eating cold Chinese takeout leftovers. This recipe is a basic version of a lo mein dish that I order whenever I have a takeout craving.

Ingredients:

  • 500g dried Chinese egg noodles
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • ½-inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 sprigs green onion, chopped
  • 2 cups of (whole) snow peas
  • 1 cup shitake mushrooms, de-stemmed and sliced
  • 1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 500g prawns, de-shelled and deveined (frozen is fine)
  • 1 tablespoon red chilli flakes (optional)
  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

Boil noodles according to package instructions. When cooked, drain and toss with vegetable oil to prevent clumping.

In a large skillet, heat sesame oil until smoking. Working quickly, sauté ginger, garlic, green onion, peas, and mushrooms for a minute. Add shrimp (thawed if using frozen) and red chilli flakes. Sauté for another minute, then add hoisin and soy sauces. Stir, remove from heat, pour over noodles, and toss. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Pork Chops with Peach Chutney and Minted Orzo

Buckle up, buckaroos. This recipe has many steps, but the overall result is worth it. I served this at the rehearsal wedding luncheon, and the beef Wellington I painstakingly made alongside it sat there begging to be chosen. This is the Jennifer Hudson of dishes — in an ensemble, it sings the loudest — and is absolutely a star. If you serve this at a dinner party, you’ll be awash with praise. If you take this to a potluck, be prepared to receive jealous ire from the other cooks.

Ingredients:

For the peach chutney:

  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 very ripe medium-sized peaches, peeled and chopped into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 Thai chilli, chopped
  • 1 serrano chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon allspice powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½-inch piece of ginger, grated

For the orzo:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup dry/uncooked orzo
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 4-6 large mint leaves

For the pork:

  • 2 200g bone-in pork chops
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided into 1- and 2-tablespoon portions
  • 1 teaspoon madras curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ginger powder

For the chutney: score the bottom of the peaches (make an X) and dunk in hot water for a minute or two to loosen the skin. Once cool (you may submerge in an ice bath to speed up the process), peel, remove the piths, and chop. Place all chutney ingredients in a saucepan and cook for 15 minutes over medium heat, stirring regularly. Cover pan with lid, remove from heat and let cool before refrigerating.

For the orzo: bring water, butter, and lemon juice to a boil in a saucepan or small stockpot. Add orzo, cover, and cook for 8-10 minutes until the grains are al dente and slightly chewy. (Remember, orzo may look like rice, but it’s pasta.) Drain any excess water. Once cool, add chopped mint and stir. (Cooking mint turns it brown and removes the bright, fresh flavour.)

For the pork: Combine the seasonings and a tablespoon of the oil and rub the mixture all over the meat. Marinate for a couple of hours. Heat the remaining oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Sear pork chops three minutes per side before turning down to medium-low heat. Cook for eight to ten minutes. Remove from the skillet, bring to room temperature, then refrigerate.

When you’re ready to serve, place each pork chop on a cup of the orzo (the cooked orzo should yield two cups) and top each with a generous dollop of peach chutney.

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