Summer Steak is a Beautiful Thing

Any day that starts with pancakes and ends with steak is a good day, regardless of what happens in between. And, while I was not conscious enough this morning to capture the pancakes, I did manage to get something of tonight's steak.

This Sunday's dinner was a tribute to summer foods, and summer foods are truly wonderful. We picked up some fresh corn on the cob from the Hopkins produce stand just down the street from us that we worked into a beautiful medley with some red peppers and fresh fava beans on the side.

And the steak - a couple of 12-ounce striploins from D'Artagnan . These are strip steaks cut from the loin near the butt-end just below the ribs. It's cut from a tender part of the cow, albeit not as tender as the ribeye. My counterpart topped this all natural pasture-grazed beef with a garlic-jalapeno caramel glaze.

Now those who doubt that a garlic jalapeno caramel will work out here, just consider the typical steak sauce and then remove what doesn't work. What you end up with is garlic, peppers, salt, sugar, and vinegar. This was the basis for our sauce.

First, my counterpart sauteed slices of garlic and jalapeno in olive oil. He then added salt and a generous pour of sugar and continued cooking it until the sugar dissolved. He added a healthy pour of mild white vinegar, plus a good pour of white wine and continued to cook it, using a deglazing motion with a spatula to remove any residue from the pan. He finished it with a bit of King syrup and let it boil for a few minutes before removing it from the heat to rest.

 The corn medley began with our fresh corn. If you are planning on removing it form the cob, here's another use for the MAP torch in the kitchen, once again proving that it's not just for creme brulee.

After you have husked your corn, use the torch to sear off the remaining corn silk, being careful not to actually sear the corn. Once that's done, cut the cobs in half and use a knife to gently cut off the kernels.

With corn that fresh and pristine, we wanted our red peppers to achieve a similar perfection, so Gareth took the extra step of skinning them. This can be done with a vegetable peeler and a gentle touch. Once peeled, he sliced them, as well as some onion and leek. This was our medley for this evening, and one that would prove to work out well with our caramel.

The best way to cook a steak is medium rare, While I have long maintained that this is a bit over-cooked, Gareth took care to cook tonight's steaks to this generally-accepted state of perfection. To do this at home, you'll want a generous amount of olive oil heated in a heavy skillet until just about smoking. First, pat down the steaks to remove any moisture. This will prevent things from becoming a bloody mess in your skillet.

Using two sets of tongs, carefully sear each side of the steak, starting with the fatty edge. If you do this right, you'll end up with a thin exterior that is seared and an interior that is red and slightly warm and just cooked enough to be on the civilized side of raw. When cooked in this manner, the juices are sealed inside, and you can cut through the tender meat easily with a sharp knife.

When all sides have been seared, remove the steaks from your pan and let them rest. The best way to do this is to set a small rack over a plate and rest the meat on the rack. This will allow some of the oil to drain.

The garlic and jalapeno caramel provided a bold counterpoint to the tender, mild steak, and was a great compliment to the sweet corn medley. With starchy fava beans on the side, this was a most excellent summer meal.