Yes, this could be from the Grill chapter but, just to keep us on our toes, Ruhlman has included it in the Vinaigrette chapter.
Really? you might ask, a whole chapter on salad dressing? As it turns out, the fundamental ratio of 3 parts fat with one part acid (emulsified or not, to your preference and the particular application), has far more uses than we have been giving it credit for. In fact, Ruhlman says it should be considered one of the so-called “mother sauces” of classic cooking since it’s really just a base from which many, many other sauces can be made. Even as a vinaigrette it’s incredibly versatile. The oil can be something neutral like canola or more assertive like a walnut or sesame oil. The acid can be any number of vinegars as well as citrus juice. Herbs, spices and aromatics get thrown in regularly (garlic, shallots, mustard, thyme) and from there you can incorporate all kinds of things: capers, peppers, sriracha, mayonnaise, sour cream, egg, maple syrup, Bailey’s…ok I went too far but I think I’ve made my point.
Obviously, when you grill meat you have nothing from which to build a pan sauce and here again vinaigrette can come to the rescue, as in this recipe. The steaks get nothing more than a healthy coating of salt and a two-hour rest at room temperature before grilling. Cook to whatever degree of done you prefer (and please don’t tell me if that means there’s absolutely no pink left; I’ll never look at you the same way again. I’ll look at you like I look at my mother for crying out loud). After a post-cooking rest of 5 minutes, serve with the vinaigrette (I advocate slicing the steaks first so more of the vinaigrette gets on the meat and also because it’s more show-offy and that’s how I roll.)
This was so good and I loved the slightly unusual combination of flavors in this vinaigrette: balsamic vinegar, fish sauce, serrano chiles, and oregano. As much as I think a good piece of meat doesn’t need much more than salt and pepper, it is nice to have an easy option to change it up a bit from time to time.
Grilled Strip Steaks with Chile-Oregano Vinaigrette is on page 212 of Ruhlman’s Twenty.