Dinner Party A la Plancha

This nice bout of weather lately really has me in a grilling mood. For April, it’s my turn to host dinner party and I just couldn’t convince myself to do anything else than grill on the rooftop of our building and dine al fresco.  Thus inspired by an Argentinian plancha, or grill, themed menu I wanted foods to please everyone but would still allow me to socialize without being chained to the grill: grilled romaine salad, steak with chimichurri, grilled plantains, and then grilled pineapple with dulce de leche on frozen greek yogurt.

Most of your prep work for a meal like this is chopping, slicing and dicing. Half the romaine heads, tomatoes and slice red onions into rings. With your favorite herb vinaigrette, paint the lettuce and onions on all sides. The tomatoes are a little tricky, I left them on the top grill to pick up the smokey flavors, but you want to keep them cut side up so the juices and seeds don’t spill out.  It’s bit of a modern/deconstructed presentation, so it might be best to prepare your guests as you serve them.  This isn’t for everyone, but I thought it was something fun and different, perhaps a new take on family style? This is why I am in PR, right. While all this is grilling, serve a good Argentinian wine, like a Malbec with some cheese and grapes to get your guests started.

20150418_194935Boat the plantains in foil or soaked banana leaves with butter and a little brown sugar and pepper for some good caramelization.  The envelopes should have a little room for steam so don’t worry about wrapping super tightly. Let them and the butter do their thing on the top grill while you cook the steaks until you can pierce it with a fork, similar to a potato. The seasoning on the meat is a generous coating of salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. You don’t need anything fancy as the chimichurri will provide ample flavors. I love this sauce as you can use it on anything grilled, mix with mayo for sandwiches or stir into potatoes for a tart and tangy potato salad.

Here is a great cheat sheet to explain how to tell the doneness of the steaks.

Dessert sets itself up easily, the pineapple slices will caramelize in their own juices bringing an unexpected char flavor via the grill all while you eat the entree. I made the dulce de leche and can’t find pictures for the life of me, but I do insist that you not be intimidated. It was a bit time consuming but worth every minute. Drizzle this over the frozen greek yogurt and then serve with the grilled pineapple, the heat will melt the dulce de leche and frozen yogurt making an amazing cream sauce.

Next time you grill, pay homage to the Argentinian way of life with this menu option for yourself or for entertaining!

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