Tuesday, August 7, 2012

charred pepper steak sauce

skirt steak with charred pepper sauce

This is Alex‘s birthday week, which, in case you’re new here, means that there’s an open package of bacon in the fridge, the promise of oysters, shrimp cocktail, small-batch bourbon and babysitters on the horizon, butter and chocolate will soon align to meet their many-candled cake destiny and I, well, I bought some steak. I bet you’d imagine that a guy married to gal who likes to cook things that make people happy would be frequently entitled to his favorite food on earth, made at home, just because it’s a Tuesday. Well, once every year or so, that is exactly what happens.

broiled red pepper
so you don't lose any pepper juices

This is also that point in the summer where pretty much every human being I know is either at their own beach house or a guest in someone else’s right now. If you’re in the former category, well, la-de-dah, okay? If you’re in the latter category, I know a secret: You are totally going to get invited back next year because I have just the hostess gift for you to bring. You’re welcome.

peppers and tomatoes and spice

pureed

I’m not going to lie; I hadn’t given a single thought to steak sauce before I made this. I don’t eat a lot of steak thus I don’t have a beloved steak sauce, thus my expectations were limited when I found this recipe in Tasting Table last month and by the way, do you get Tasting Table? I discovered it a year or two ago and it’s about the best thing that lands in my inbox each day and no, nobody paid me to say that. Their restaurant suggestions almost always lead to excellent discoveries and I love their newer cooking content, even more so after this recipe because, holy moly, guys. This is one of the best surprises to come out of my kitchen in eons.

simmered for a bit
you can strain it for a smoother texture

I ate wanted to eat it (Because I’m dignified and stuff. I also have a bridge to sell you.) off a spoon. Sure, it’s good on steak but I have a feeling it’s going to be the new ketchup/barbecue/dang this chicken is dry tonight and needs a little something-something (What? It happens.) sauce around here for a while, because it’s amazing. You char a red bell pepper under the broiler, remove the seeds, and blend it up, blackened skin and all, with tomato puree, a bit of olive oil, balsamic, Worcestershire, molasses and a bunch of spices from ground ginger to mustard to onion powder and allspice. You cook this mixture for 15 minutes, you pour it on steak and then after that, you throw away every bottled condiment in your fridge because they had a good run. You appreciate their years of service. You hope they’ll find their new digs suitable and understand that it wasn’t them and it wasn’t you either. It was this punchy rust-colored jar of unparalleled steak awesomeness put them out of business, and it’s really not sorry.

charred pepper steak sauce

Condiments, previously: Barbecue Sauce, plus some pickles [Wow, is that it? Time to make some mustard!]

Two years ago: Zucchini and Almond Pasta Salad
Three years ago: Lighter Airy Pound Cake
Four years ago: Napa Cabbage Salad with Buttermilk Dressing (Guys, this is one of my favorite salads on the site.) Key Lime Meltaways
Five years ago: Mixed Bean Salad

Charred Pepper Steak Sauce
Barely adapted from Tasting Table’s test kitchen

It is shameful how little I adapted this recipe, and a testament to awesomeness that is stumbling upon a recipe that is a rare hole-in-one. Nevertheless, I made a few, tiny tweaks: my pepper took longer to char, because I have the world’s worst broiler; I add some salt specificity because I’ve learned the hard way how drastically different Kosher salt can affect a recipe; I used a smidge less allspice. Finally, I cooked it for a lot longer than suggested, because I felt it thickened up better and had more of a saucy cooked taste after simmering for a while (rather than just until the first bubbles appear, as suggested). I hope you love this as much as we do.

Someone is about to ask if you can can this and my early research suggests that you can. Update: It’s a Can’t Can (unless you have a pressure canner). However, I think it would keep really well in the freezer.

Yield: 1 2/3 to 2 cups steak sauce. We would not have minded doubling this.

1 red bell pepper, small was suggested, I used a large and didn’t regret it
2/3 cup canned or fresh tomato purée
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon molasses
3/4 teaspoon table salt or more to taste
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

Preheat your broiler. Place your pepper on a baking sheet and cook it under the broiler until all sides are charred, turning with with tongs as needed. Don’t skimp on the charring as this skin will add a fantastic flavor dimension. Mine took about 15 minutes, but I have a terrible broiler. Yours might only take 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer pepper to a mesh sieve set over a blender jar or food processor work bowl to cool until you’re able to handle it, about 15 minutes.

Tear open the pepper and remove the seeds and membranes with your fingers or a paring knife. Add the pepper (with its skin) to the blender along with the remaining ingredients. Puree mixture until as smooth as possible. Transfer mixture to a small saucepan. Simmer it gently over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. It will yield a fairly smooth that can be used as is, but if you’d like a smoother consistency, you have two options: running it back through the blender or food processor again (I got a smoother blender after the fibers had cooked down more on the stove) or pressing it through that fine-mesh sieve (I started doing this, then decided it wasn’t worth the trouble).

Store in an airtight jar in the fridge for one week, though I suspect it will keep for two.


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