Mary Beth Clark

Culinary Educator · Consultant · Author

Grilled Bavette with Urfa Biber (Isot Biber or Isot Pepper) and Salmuera

If you love steak, have you made Grilled Bavette? This favorite bistro dish is mainstream in many kitchens because the steak is so juicy, satisfying, and inexpensive compared to other cuts.

The term "bavette" depends on category. Italy makes a wonderful extruded pasta cut called bavette, similar in shape to linguini, and especially well-paired with seafood. Then there is the bib tied under a child's chin. And then there is the butcher's cut of beef, the Sirloin Flap or Bottom Sirloin Butt, from the flank section near where the Tri-Tip is found. Flap or butt…don't let its name deter you. This cut is somewhat underutilized, entirely affordable, and tastes similar to hanger steak, a true steak-lover's delight.

Bavette it is also sold as: Faux Hanger, Bavette or Bavette d’aloyau (France), Vacio (Argentina), the general term Pancia (Italy) which includes a few different “flank-like” cuts, and Sirloin Tip (New England). While it can be erroneously called flank steak, which is a cut from the flank section, or skirt steak, which is cut from the short plate section, the Bottom Sirloin cut is thicker and meatier, therefore juicier and more flavorful. Recipes often recommend marinating flank or skirt steak, but if you cook bavette over very high heat for a brief period prior marinating is a distraction, and it nears the top on the list of great-tasting steak. Raw bavette steak often weighs from 7 ounces (198 g) to 18 ounces (510 g). Try to purchase the center cut because it is thicker than the ends. There should be little trimming of fat or fascia needed, if at all.

Rather than merely grilling, add flavor twists making your version distinctively savory. Season the beef with the equally popular, Urfa Biber (Isot Biber or Isot Pepper), a chili pepper specialty from the southeastern Turkish city of Urfa. The chili peppers go through a two-part process of drying in the sun during the day then covered at night to "sweat" which infuses them with remaining moisture and intensifies natural oils. These crushed red chili peppers darken to a deep purple-brown color reflecting maroon. Their intriguing flavor possesses a combination of smoke, chocolate, raisins, tobacco…a description of a distinguished red wine. As red wine couples with grilled steak, so do these peppers. Less spicy hot than many pepper varieties, the damp irregular flakes elevate bavette's beefy character. Anoint your steak with drops of Salmuera, an herbal briny condiment that Argentina's grill masters are never without. While subtle, it enhances the overall grill experience, from working the grill to tucking into mouth-watering results.

Served with grilled potato slices. Planning a picnic or outdoor terrace party, but no grill available? Cook in advance, then enjoy Grilled Bavette the following day served slightly chilled with either sauce.

2 servings. Cooking time is 6 to 8 minutes.

1 pound (454 g) bavette steak (1 or 2 steaks)
Urfa Biber (Isot Biber or Isot Pepper) or coarsely ground Tellicherry or Malabar black pepper to taste
Kosher or sea salt to taste
Salmuera: Click for the recipe

Grill or grill pan
Extra-virgin olive oil

Steak: Remove the steak from the refrigerator one hour before cooking to release the chill for more uniform cooking. During this time, season the steak with a sprinkling of Urfa Biber or black pepper before cooking. Season with salt now OR season with Salmuera while on the grill.



Grill or Grill Pan: Preheat the grill or grill pan until very hot then brush the grill area with olive oil. Maintain high heat the entire time. Place the bavette on the oiled area of the grill or pan. If seasoning the steak with Salmuera, the flavored brine, lightly sprinkle it on the steak now. Grill for about 3 minutes. Turn over, repeat with Salmuera, and grill for about 3 minutes to medium-rare.
(Grill time depends on the thickness of the steak, how cold the meat was when put on the grill, and how hot the grill is during cooking. Touch your index finger to the tip of your thumb making a circle. Press your other index finger into the fleshy base part of that thumb. Medium-rare steak feels very similar, soft.)
Remove the steak from the grill or pan and rest for 5 to 10 minutes or longer allowing juices to redistribute.

To Cut: It is easiest to cut bavette into large sections following the grain, then cut across the grain in each section making very thin slices. Enjoy your very juicy, very pink, Grilled Bavette.




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