Getting fresh and fancy with a new cut of meat!
I’ve never been much of a meat and potatoes gal. Don’t get me wrong – I love eating meat and I’m pretty fond of spuds too, but I like my plates put together a little more creatively. This year, for Valentine’s Day, I’m serving steak and pasta, just to spice things up a little. And not any old steak – I’m going for the ‘baseball cut’ – it’s a beautiful piece of very thick top sirloin. I actually prefer these to tenderloin; they’re way less expensive, nicely marbled and super flavourful. I’ll be topping my steaks with a pizza-inspired garlicky-oniony-mushroomy-tomatoey-herby sauce that is delicious enough to eat with a spoon, and even more fabulous over red meat. Add some salad and a robust red wine, and you’ve got a meal that’s sure to make both you and your dining companion swoon. The best part? You don’t even have to shovel a path to the barbeque – this start-on-the-stove-then-finish-in-the-oven method is super simple. I promise. And if you’re looking for a wine to pair with this menu, I’d recommend a medium-bodied red with a touch of spice and balanced acidity that won’t overwhelm all the flavours at play; my pic is the lovely C’est la Vie Syrah/Pinot Noir blend from Maison Albert Bichot in the south of France.
For the steaks:
- 2 top sirloin baseball cut steaks (8 ounces/225 grams each)
- salt, pepper
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) olive oil
For the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 large Roma tomatoes, diced*
- 2 mushrooms, diced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) tomato paste
- salt and pepper to taste
*Or 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) canned diced tomatoes.
- Bring the steaks up to room temperature by letting them sit, covered, on the counter for 60 – 90 minutes.
- While steaks are warming, prepare sauce. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet, over medium heat. Add shallot and sauté, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, mushrooms, tomato paste and oregano and stir to combine. Let cook for 7 – 10 minutes until thickened and vegetables have softened. Remove from heat and let stand.
- When ready to start cooking the steaks, preheat the oven to 450F.
- Pat the steaks dry with paper towel and generously coat both sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat a medium-sized, heavy, oven-safe skillet (cast iron is best) over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add 2 teaspoons olive oil and let it heat for 1 minute more. The oil should be almost smoking.
- Add the steaks and let them sear 2 minutes on the first side. Do not disturb them in the pan – you need to keep them perfectly still to develop a nice caramelized, brown crust.
- With tongs (don’t pierce the meat with a fork), flip and sear two minutes more.
- Transfer the skillet with the meat in it to the hot oven. Set a timer for 8 minutes.
- After 8 minutes, check the internal temperature of the thickest part of the steaks with a digital thermometer. Remove the pan from the oven when the steaks are at 120F for rare or 125F for medium rare.
- Transfer the cooked steaks to a small plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let rest for 5 minutes.
- While steaks are resting, gently reheat sauce.
- Transfer steaks to a cutting board and slice thinly, then fan out on two serving plates (on top of pasta, if you like). Add any juices that accumulated while the steaks were resting to the sauce; stir it then spoon sauce over meat and serve immediately.